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On Death and Dying

My husband's father is dying. As I type this his family has gathered back east to sit by his bed and hold his hand, waiting for the last breath. It may be hours or days, but it is definitely time. This man was larger than life in his younger days. I never had the privilege to meet the man who flew airplanes and went on motorcycle trips with friends. I didn't meet the skier, the hiker. By the time I met him, he had already had his first small stroke, putting a stop to the flying and riding. He shuffled when he walked and refused to admit he needed a hearing aid. The man I met was warm and funny, even if you didn't see it at first. Family was everything to him. He adored his wife of more than 60 years. He is probably one of the most generous people I have ever met. He still loved to hunt and fish so much so that they bought property in Wyoming and spent their summers there the last 8 years. Their place in Wyoming brought him so much pleasure and I think added years to his life. It give him a zest for living that I did not see when I first met him. My husband married later in life - he was 45 when we married. Our oldest daughter now 7 got to go fishing a time or two with Papa out in Wyoming. I wish our 5 year old had gotten that opportunity as well, but by the time she was old enough to be interested age had already robbed him of that pleasure. He was a proud man, never wanting to be old. When the bi-lateral stroke hit three weeks ago we knew his odds of recovering were slim. We've sat for three weeks with the ups and downs of small victories and larger setbacks.


I've had several discussions with the girls on death and the realities of this situation. C prays for Papa's not to need anymore doctors. M relates it to when we lost our dog last summer. Each coping with it in the ways their young minds can. At dinner tonight, C asked why I was crying and I explained that Papa wasn't going to get better, that he was dying. Her response was "That's not sad, that's a happy thing for Papa. Then I can talk to Papa all the time like I talk to God." Such wisdom for a 5 year old. Wisdom we can all use when we lose sight, mired in grief. I don't think she'll ever know how much comfort her words gave me tonight.


My prayer for him to finally be free of the pain that he's suffered for years. I hope he knows how many people loved and respected him. I pray for our family that we can heal from the grief of losing someone so dear to us.


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