"Am I home?" he asked. "Yes, you're home and you don't have to go anywhere" I answered. "Look around do you recognize where you are?" I asked him. "I recognize the stone wall, the fireplace." he answered. "You're home." I repeated.
Wednesday night Dad started his own process of transition. He awoke at midnight and called me complaining of confusion and not feeling well. My brother and sil went upstairs and spent some time with him administered medicine and settled Dad back to sleep. On Thursday morning I called to check in on Dad as I drove to work. The last thing I said to my sil was "If you think he is going to die, call me. I will come home" At 10:30 as the children cleaned the classroom my cell phone buzzed in my pocket. I checked the number and immediately my stomach lurched and a lump came into my throat. It was the call I had been dreading. My father was dying.
Dad wasn't doing well and I had to go home. I went directly to Dad's. He was alert but his breathing was labored. The nurse was on her way. Now I'm unsure if we administered additional medicines or if we waited. It seems foggy and far away even though it was just two days ago. I held Dad's hand and sat with him on the couch. He had his oxygen on and his eyes closed. I spoke to him reassuringly. I told him we were going to have a new nurse. I told him she had a great name. You'll never guess what her name is.... He opened his eyes turned to me and asked "Is it Roberta?" He's a comedian even in the midst of crisis! I told him "No her name is Barbara!" When she arrived she busied herself assessing the situation, administering medicines, ordering refills, arranging for a hospital bed and setting up a regular med schedule that would be followed until a final nighttime dose would be given to get Dad through the night. As the afternoon went on Dad slept soundly. I cleaned. It is what I do when I am stressed..... I stayed until my sil came back to relieve me. My plan was to return Friday morning knowing that the nurse would be out.
Friday I called work to give them an update. In my mind I anticipated my care duties over the next weeks, or so I thought. I dropped 'n' at school, went to the store to pick up some essentials to have on hand at Dads as well as the makings for Friday's dinner and headed back to Dad's. I called first and there was no answer. Called my brother and he was too scared to go upstairs alone. We went in together and things were not good. We immediately went to work administering meds that in hindsight should have been constant through the night although we were not given that directive. We did our best to get Dad comfortable, We had him on his side with pillows propping him up just a bit. Finally our nurse arrived. She was shocked by what she saw. She immediately knew by Dad's breathing that he was 'actively dying'. She got to work to make Dad comfortable we bathed him, changed him, laid him flat to help with the secretions. We did our best. We now had a new scheduled of meds and the understanding that death was imminent. A priest was called, more meds were ordered from a local private drug store and calls were made. R came home to help. Soon the hospital be came. The four of us moved Dad so that he could be more easily cared for. We sat vigil all day. A visit scheduled for Saturday was moved up to Friday afternoon. Dad was opening his eyes from time to time and even responding a bit. When our local priest came to offer the prayers of the sick at 2:30pm Dad opened his eyes for him and even said thank you when he finished the prayers. It was moving. Dad was ready to go home.
On December 5, 2009 at 12:45 Robert Joseph Dillon went home to be with his beloved.