Friday, August 30, 2013
My Dear Dad
An unexpected turn of events occurred on my Maine vacation visit to see the family. I just couldn't wait until October as I had planned to meet my newest nephew and spend time with my brother and his family visiting from Bali. With a wedding in Alaska that was smack dab in the middle of the month of August and my husband being away at the beginning of August I was delighted to find a halfway reasonable ticket the day after the wedding to the east coast. In my haste I had forgotten that my older brother and wife had already "booked" a visit at our family camp and I felt a bit guilty for totally overlapping their visit but they were quick to let me know that I was welcome to be there at the same time.
My son had been back for a visit early on in the summer because he had a strong calling to be around his grandparents as we all have had it in the back of our minds that it could be a last visit.
My father, Raymond Rogers was a cancer survivor for over 30 years. We almost lost him when I was in my 20's before he had any grandchildren at all.
There were several episodes in which I just happened to be visiting that he experience various health crises, the most major one being a massive heart attack on the very last hours of a visit to our new home in Arizona 4 years ago. I was able to care for my mom in the sunniest and warmest of places while he had his quadruple bypass and subsequent aftercare. How convenient!
He is a survivor through and through and has bounced back remarkably from many more tentative health crises.
The week I was here he was doing better than any of us had seen him in past years but the lack of mobility and ability to really do much of anything was wearing on him I know for sure.
Tuesday night my one brother and family and I took off for a facebook friend meetup on a glorious Maine coast day allowing for my other brother and his wife to enjoy a little less crowded time with the folks. My eldest brother is extremely busy as the chancellor of the University of Alaska and has to carve out precious time to visit with family.
Several friends and neighbors had stopped in to visit that day and my dad enjoyed it very much.
We had a wonderful dinner with Alaskan salmon grilled by my brother and blueberry salsa lovingly prepared by my sister in law and a rare home baked blueberry pie that my mother cooked. She'd given up on baking desserts years ago. I had made a huge jar of kimchee at my brother Dan's request which my dad bravely tried even though he didn't normally like spicy food he actually enjoyed it.
I gave him a little extra helping of pie and got to sit next to him at dinner.
After dinner the folks settled down into the other cottage which is yards away from our original family cottage and were watching an old Sean Connery movie. We stopped in and sat with them and I went back to the other cottage and within several minutes I heard my brother shouting that something was happening to dad. It seemed he had just kind of keeled over and I was there in time to witness his last few breaths while my older brothers brothers heroically did hundreds of chest compressions and mouth to mouth until the EMT's showed up. And because my folks neglected to bring the Do Not Resuscitate order with them from their winter home the EMT's were obligated to work on him for another 20 minutes by state law.
I was able to hold his head in my hands and comfort my mother and my dear sweet father passed away with Three of his five children and daughter in law and wife of 65 years were present in the room when he died..
We made a circle around him and held hands for some silent reflection.
Since he passed my two sisters have arrived and there is not one of us that is not comforted and uplifted by the manner and timing in which he orchestrated his exit from this earthly plane.
There were several signs before and after that some of us experienced in the form of unique animal appearances and dreams that have made the experience so much more numinous.
The very next morning after his death we were standing outside in a circle and my little 15 month old nephew from Bali began waving and beaming as if someone was standing in the gap in the circle where no one was standing and then he pointed to the sky. He repeated that again later on, pointing at the other cottage and waving, then pointing to the sky.
I needed to chill out the the same morning having a few moments of quiet reflection overlooking the bay after the adrenaline filled and fairly sleepless night, closing my eyes and allowing a few tears. When I opened my eyes from the half reclined position, a perfect bald eagle soared across my field of vision.
He was a dear sweet gentle and loving man and I feel that I got the gift of being able to say goodbye to him these last four years and bathe in his lovingness and care as well as being able to have the chance to let him know how much I cared for him. Who can ask for more?
His passing not a tragedy but a blessing and he will be missed by so many.
We're so grateful that he didn't have to endure any more hospital and doctors visits and that he passed peacefully in his own home surrounded by so many that cared about him.
In his classic style he made sure he was ahead of me in cribbage this week, 3 games to one, skunking me the first game!
And he had ordered us all a lobster dinner in advance from the local lobsterman that uses our property as access to the bay which the lobsterman graciously gifted us the order of six lobsters that we ate in his honor that next night.
Here is a picture of us from that last meal we had together.
I'll be heading back to Alaska on Wednesday and then have a busy month ahead of me trying to get ready for several shows, an art retreat, trip back east again and our yearly migration south.