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The Summer of Love and Death Continues … Dad is Dying

Dad Us Last Camp

Dad’s last visit to Camp Confidence

With some of the ‘Fambly’ …

And Jeff Olson and Mary Harder – They are part of our Heart Fambly & Camp Confidence 

The Sunday after Mom’s funeral, some of us kids were sitting at the breakfast table with Dad.  He cleared his throat, which he did when he was nervous, and told us, he was not going into the clinic in the morning for dialysis.  He was done.  He was tired.  He was ready to die.  He would follow Mom to heaven.  We knew this was coming, but, like my brother Patrick shared with me later – it was like a bomb going off in our hearts.

There were 5 things he wanted before he died:

  1. Be at son Mike and Dawn’s Wedding – Yes, we had a wedding in between Mom and Dad’s dying.  I was Officiating and Fambly was planning this celebration, too.
  2. To talk with Father Walsh and ask him to do his funeral (and convert us kids back to the Catholic Church!).
  3.  Connect with Mike O’Rourke from the Brainerd Dispatch, who had been asking to do one last interview with Dad about founding Camp Confidence/Confidence Learning Center.
  4. Take a bunch of the Fambly out to Camp Confidence for one. last. look.  Sharing memories and stories … Wow, THAT was a beautiful day.
  5. A BBQ Rib Dinner with all the sides!  (And his favorite cocktail – or two).

Whew …

Later that day, I took a break and headed to my apartment across the yard.  I needed quiet meditation time, and asked God for wisdom and support, as I was feeling exhausted and over-whelmed.

houseplant on coverlet

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Deep into meditation, I heard the word ‘Ezekiel’ … in a soft whisper.  Minutes later, again ‘Ezekiel’, and the 3rd time, in a normal speaking voice.

I opened my eyes … expecting to see someone – well, Ezekiel – but I didn’t.

I sat quietly … Ezekiel … hmmm.  I felt a comfort – something I really needed – Thanks, God … Thanks, Ezekiel – whoever you are.  I trusted the comfort I felt and was grateful for it.

I didn’t know anything about Ezekiel, so I looked him up!  Ezekiel is a Hebrew priest and prophet of the sixth century B.C. His name means: God will strengthenThat was reassuring – I needed all the strength and support I could get.

The next day, I walked across the yard to spend time with Dad and visit with Fambly.  He was in his recliner in the living room – “Hi, Daddy-o!” I said, with a kiss on his cheek.  “Hi Deb!  Say, I’ve been thinking and we’ve got to get my funeral put together, will you help me?”  I didn’t well up in tears, I remembered Ezekiel: God will strengthen.  I didn’t gasp.  God will strengthen.  Dad was clear with what he wanted, and asked me for help.  I took a breath, God will strengthen, and let it out.  I smiled and said, “You bet!  Let’s do this!”

The priest was called, the local parish was notified and the funeral home was given a ‘heads-up’.  Special people came to visit.  Once again, stories and laughter filled the house.  Wedding plans were being delegated, Dad still was beating Patrick at cribbage … We kids agreed to have Jake contact a neighbor in the cities who made pine boxes for his casket.  (I/We had suggested Dad make us Pine Boxes for Christmas Gifts, as every year he had to come up with a new idea for all 7 of us kids … Mom nixed that idea!)  Even though Dad was dying, there was a lighter air and not so sad as when Mom was crossing over.  He was very ready to go.

cribbage

There came a day we thought he was going off to bed and sleep his way to heaven. We took turns being with him.  I remember him opening his eyes hours later and looked at me, kind of confused … I smiled and said, “Hi there … Nope, Daddy-o, you’re not in heaven, yet!”  Then, he asked if there were any ribs left?!  Seriously, he never followed protocol, so why start now!!??

flat lay photography of grilled meat on brown chopping board

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Dad’s time had come – for real this time.

We called everyone together and gathered around.  I climbed in bed with him, Patrick shared ‘The Lord is My Shepard‘ by heart, and then we started to sing his favorite songs.  We got to Edelweiss and Dad took his last breath – we thought.  I had my hand on his heart – it had stopped.  Then he opened his eyes and took one LOUD BIG last breath – we all JUMPED!! – Jake boisterously started back in song, “Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow, bloom and grow forever …..”  (Some things you never forget).  I started laughing and crying at the same time.  Dad was a kidder and a prankster – and he ‘got us good’ on that one.  I could see Mom taking his arm as he was chuckling on his way, saying, “Ok, Dick, that’s enough now, come along!”

edelweiss

It was one awesome funeral!

We were wrapped in Holy, Precious Moments as we shared this time together.

Fambly.

Thanks Mom and Dad … Without you … We would not BE FAMBLY.

With a Grateful Heart.

Your Daughter,

Debbie

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The Wedding … It IS a Summer of Love!         Here is Mom’s Story.

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A Summer of Love & Death – Mom

It was a tough summer for our ‘Fambly’.

It was a summer of Love.

Both my folks were dying …

Let me share about our Mom …

Mom&Dad50th

Mom, Dad & The Big Kids

“Fambly”

We, Fambly = Mom & Dad, 7 Siblings/Spouses/Significant Others/Children & Little Children, filled the consult room, waiting for the oncologist to talk with us and share Mom’s diagnosis.  It was the day after Mother’s Day.  Apprehension, faith and love were holding us together like a superglue.  Mom had lung cancer.  The wonderful oncologist, tenderly held Mom’s hands, looked her directly in the eyes, and said with her permission, Hospice would be contacted that day.  It took our breath away.

Life is real.

In 2 months, she was gone.

Before she left … We sang to her, shared silly stories … maybe a secret or two.  We painted our toenails with her.  She had a dress to show us girls – she hoped wouldn’t be ‘too fancy’ for her funeral!  The rosary was prayed.  We cried.  Lots and LOTS of tears.  A Priest came to visit.  Mom and my little brother, Jake, planned the music for her funeral – so special. (He was amazing singing through. it. all.  Making Mom proud ’till the very end!!).

Rosary

In the middle of the night, she left us.  We were with her.  Dad made it very clear he wanted to be with her at her last breath.

Everything became still. 

Silent. 

Peace-filled.

Before we called the funeral home, we made a Fambly Circle. (Every night after supper, Mom would have us go around the table and say something we were thankful for.)  In our circle of love for Mom, we each shared a story, or something we were grateful for, or got in trouble with/lesson learned – ’cause life is real with Mom.  More tears, then laughter!!  After we shared, we started singing some of her favorite songs – someone(s) got out their phones to get all the words right!  We ended with Silent Night … the harmony so precious.

 

It was a silent, holy night …

We love you, Mom!

(She’s still dropping feathers to say ‘Hello’!)

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With Love and a Grateful Heart,

Your Daughter,

Debbie

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Dad’s Story     The Wedding Between 2 Funerals

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