My Dad passed over on Dec. 20th of 2010. <– Those are the words but the reality of acceptance is infinitely more difficult. This wasn’t supposed to happen. He had heart surgery – it was urgent. While there are people, in Quebec, on waiting lists for surgery – my Dad never made those lists. His case was that much of an emergency. My Mom won’t accept that; she is blaming the hospital. She is trying to convince herself that Dad was some sort of practice case for new cardiologists.
For the weeks preceding the surgery, Daddy had no energy. A man who used to be up before the birds was sleeping an alarming amount. Sometimes not even making it out of his bed, he was that tired.
I don’t have a very high opinion of the medical profession as a general rule. Too many doctors place themselves on a pedestal and forget the whole purpose of their profession. To heal, to help their patients. Not in this case. I watched them care for Dad after the surgery; it was apparent that he was in a good deal of trouble. The surgery itself was a success but there was so much going on with Dad. He was old school. When doctors asked him how he was feeling, what was going on with him – he would always answer that he was fine. No problems. But that wasn’t true. He was in bad shape. His kidneys were diseased. They were simply not functioning anymore.
Like his own father, this is what took him from us. He crashed in surgery, due to a critical drop in blood pressure. They tried to get his kidneys to start but they simply wouldn’t. His blood pressure continued to crash throughout the 2.5 days following the operation. He never regained consciousness to any great extent. Fluid entered his lungs, due to his kidneys. Pneumonia set in, quickly.
Dad passed over early on Monday, Dec. 20th. He was tired. I really believe he was tired and just wanted to be free of the pain, of the discomfort and the decline in his quality of life. For over a year, he had blood transfusions. At first every 6 weeks, then every 4, then…every 2. You could actually see when it was time for him to be transfused. His skin would take on a yellowish hue. The transfusions had side effects. His entire body was covered by a rash from which there was no relief. Believe me, we tried everything. Benadryl, Aerius – oatmeal baths, calamine lotion, creams – nothing worked. His body simply refused to accept the new blood and reacted.
The above are the facts – medical facts but there is so much more to all of this. Watching my Mother in such terrible pain. Daddy was her rock, she says. Her foundation. The person who kept her perspectives in order. They would have been married 61 years in February. After that many decades, couples become integral to each other. They are joined. It may as well be physical; they become that attached on an unseen level. Psychology can define it with words but the words simply will never truly offer a viable explanation. Its theory.
There’s such a huge hole in all our lives. A gaping black space that Dad used to inhabit and make our lives whole. Dealing with the loss is hard enough – monumental but add to that, the ridiculous bureaucracy of death, with the government, with the banks, with legislation. It compounds everything until you just don’t think you can take it anymore.
The hole is always there but there are times when it forces its way from the lower brain to center stage and overwhelms you. It chooses it’s own way and time to manifest. Watching television, seeing a commercial for a book and thinking that I should order it for my Dad. Or a program on one of the channels – thinking that I should call him.
Mornings are the most difficult. Dad used to give me a lift in to work, every morning. I would listen for his car. I listen every morning and of course, there is no sound. Just odd vehicle passing by the house on their own way to work.
There is a part of this that continues to play through my mind, like video clip on continual repeat. Sitting beside his bed, that Monday morning. I had been called by the hospital with the news that Daddy had gone. I had to go and do the identification – they never tell you that’s what it is though. He was laying in the bed where we had left him. The machines silent – tubes removed. Dad looked like he was sleeping. He looked…very cliche, but he looked at peace. I held his hand and cried. Cried and cried some more. Our lives had been altered. Something very precious had gone.