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Sometime early this morning, my dad passed away. He had been declining for some time, and each milestone step had brought him closer to this day: he stopped driving last year, he began using a walker around the condo, he spent the majority of his time sleeping on the couch, and his memory had drastically faded to the point we couldn’t ask him anything about the past. He just didn’t remember. And then his heart began to hurt and beat irregularly, and he asked to be to be taken to the hospital. They found, along with his heart issue, that he had colon cancer. The clock was winding down.
We haven’t had much death in our family. My parents’ parents died many years ago, the last one in 1984. I realize it’s part of life and try to keep perspective, especially since my dad lived a happy, 91-year life. We don’t have much to complain about. He didn’t suffer much, though he didn’t like these last few weeks lying in bed constantly. Despite it all, he retained his sense of humor, and he was always pleasant. He died with dignity and grace.
Once as I sat beside him in his bed, he said, “John, I don’t want to leave.” I know he didn’t want to leave Mom… ever. He promised he’d always be there as she worried about being alone without him. But alas, God takes who He wants when it’s the appointed time.
I will always remember these last few weeks at my parents’ condo. I’ve enjoyed serving them, attending to my dad, consoling my mom as she bemoaned the inevitable, and being with my brothers as we each took turns staying up with my dad. It was exhausting yet rewarding to help him through this.
Took Madeleine on a motorcycle ride today out toward the Cascades. We stopped along a beautiful river and took a few pictures.
Ajax passed away today, and I’m heartbroken. He has endured several weeks of extreme pain, enough for him to stop eating and lose over 10 pounds in a short time. I took him in to the vet this morning for an ultrasound, just to confirm the cancer that we suspected. Our drive was quiet. I think he was annoyed that I didn’t let him drink anything. He was very thirsty. They led him off to the backroom, and I went off to work.
The radiologist arrived in the afternoon and confirmed our suspicions. He had sizable growths over several organs. Dr. Cullen called and said she’d be around for another couple hours if I wanted to take care of it today. It seemed like the appropriate thing to do.
I found Ajax in Room #2, very excited and happy to see me. He was moving around the room with great agility, and I wondered about what we were about to do. Ajax seemed energetic and really like his old bouncy self from months ago, but it was just disguised anxiety and some excitement that I finally was going to take him home. Seeing this was tragic to me, especially as he backed himself over my feet and sat down as he often did, just to be close to me. Little did he know that he had just a few minutes of life left.
And this was my pain. I was directing this euthanasia, directing the doctor to administer barbiturates that would quickly kill him. Was it right? I again questioned the doctor who assured me that this was the right path considering the extent of the cancer and the pain that Ajax was going through each day. I just wanted to take him home one more day and appreciate his kind soul, to have him sit by my feet in the living room, to pet him as he slept on the office carpet.
Yesterday, in the backyard, as he lay in the grass and I lay in front of him, I snuggled my head under his chin and on his paws. He lowered his chin on my head with purposeful firmness, embracing me in the only way he could. It was sweet and affectionate. He knew I was distressed by his pain, too. These Berners are such an intelligent, kind breed of dog. Such a loss when they leave a family.
Nice job, Madeleine!
Flew to SLC for the weekend, picked up Andrew and Madeleine, then drove down to see my folks in LV. As we came back through Provo, we met up with Alex who was enjoying a break from Yale during the Thanksgiving holiday. We got together on our last morning for a photo in downtown Provo. Fun to be with them all.
Another reason why we love the Seattle area…
Sometimes when riding on my motorcycle, I come across a beautiful scene from the road that makes me pull to the side and stop. It takes some time to park the bike, get out my camera and capture the picture, but it’s always worth it. This shot was taken a few miles off the Strait of Juan de Fuca Highway in the Olympics. Not sure if I could ever find the place again, but it was worth the stop.
Heard a nice duet recently. This girl, Evie Clair, was recently on “America’s Got Talent”, and the young man has a tremendous voice, too.