take care of the girls…part one

taken: 10.04.18     phone photo

The two most important men in my life are Danny and my dad.  They treated each other with such respect.  On October 14th I was going to spend the day with my parents.  It was Sunday.  My plan was to go to a sacrament meeting and then head straight there.  Danny offered to join me.  As we were getting ready Dede sent a text-  “could you skip church and come now? it’s been a long night.”  My dad had been on hospice care for several weeks.  He was too weak to walk.  Dede or I tried to be there in the morning until he went to bed because it was a lot for our mom on her own…and 90% of the time it was Dede.  In fact, I hadn’t been there for several days and I was looking forward to being there and relieving Dede.  

My dad had weeks of not being able to hold down or eat food and sometimes liquids.  We were told that the restlessness and anxiety he was experiencing was “terminal agitation.”  The night of October 13th and morning of the 14th the agitation had hit its peak.  He hadn’t slept for two days…and not much sleep the days leading up to that.  Dede had planned to stay until he fell asleep- he never did.  He was afraid.  The hospice staff over the phone told her- “you have to give him his medicine and then stay on top of it-preventative and not reactive.”  He WOULD NOT TAKE IT.  Dede was exhausted and emotionally drained.  

We got there as quickly as we could.  I walked into the back door.  My dad’s hospital bed was the first thing you saw as you entered the back door of their home.  I went straight to him.  I asked if he wanted a hug.  His bed was set upright so I embraced him with both of my arms.  He returned the hug and patted my back.  “Did you have a hard night Dad?” I asked him.  He said that he had.  “Why aren’t you sleeping?” His only response, “It’s nearing the end.”  

Dede, at mom’s insistence, told me more about their night.  He had been combative, yelling and struggling, which was totally out of character.  He truly had been the sweetest patient as we cared for him these last months.  I felt an overwhelming gratitude for all of the time and selflessness Dede had given my mom and dad and wanted to do anything I could to help.  Her only instructions- “get him to take his medicine and then give it to him every three hours so his agitation doesn’t get this bad again.”  She left to get a few hours sleep and mom and I were strategizing about how to get him to take the medicine.  Danny said confidently, “I’ll do it.”  He grabbed the Rx and headed to his bedside.

“Bob, I need you to help me take care of these girls. Do you want to do that?”  He nodded that he did.  “They need you to take this medicine.”  I am going to put it in your mouth.  My dad opened up his mouth…and it was done.  We were shocked.  We hoped he would go right to sleep because it had been days since he slept.  Instead, my dad wanted to go to his office.  Danny wheeled him back there.  Wheeled him back to bed.  Then he wanted to sit on his walker.  Danny gave him a back rub.  Then suggested an “army bath.”  We got warm water, a washcloth, and a bar of soap.  Danny cleaned him right up…joking and lovingly caring for a man he respected so much.  My eyes filled with tears.  I love Danny for more reasons than I can count, and at that moment my heart overspilled with gratitude for these men- my father and the man I married.  

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