Sunday, April 01, 2012

My Father - December 21, 1925 - April 1, 2012 - R.I.P.

So, the weekend of March 24-25, my dad and my step mom were down in Coffeyville, KS overseeing the auction of my Uncle Joe's property.

They were walking into a restaurant when he fell and broke another vertebrate in his back.

In great pain, they made it back home, consulted their family doctor who advised them to get him to Olathe Medical Center. They checked in on Monday the 26th.

During the week they performed surgery on his back and repaired the broken vertebrate and gave him morphine for the pain.

He had a bad reaction to the morphine and sort of lost touch with reality.

They were in the process of weaning him off the morphine when his heart stopped on Friday morning.

They performed CPR and got his heart started again, breaking some of his fragile ribs in the process. He didn't regain consciousness. They put him on life support and the doctor told my step mom that dad probably wouldn't survive another resuscitation attempt.

She summoned the family. I called into work and spent all day Friday, March 30th sitting with the family, waiting and hoping for the best. My youngest brother started driving in from Los Angeles.

After 10 uneventful hours of sitting in the ICU waiting room it was clear that he was stable and in no immediate danger so I made my excuses and headed for home.

GTO was at a concert that night so I didn't have the opportunity to tell her what was going on.

She didn't even know he had been in the hospital. I hadn't told her because when you are 87 years old, being in and out of the hospital for this and that is pretty much routine.

This would come as a shock to her. She loves her Grandpa more than anyone else in the family. Probably more than me. I think the feeling was mutual on both sides and I’m OK with that.

Dad recently had his 69 year old WWII Merchant Marine Pea Coat overhauled and gave it to GTO, along with his Merchant Marine service ribbons. They were very close.

I once tried to talk to GTO about my wishes around Living Wills, Advance Directives and the fact that I wanted to be cremated. She cut me off and said “I’ve already made up my mind that you and Grandpa are never going to die so we don’t even need to have this discussion.”

I wasn't looking forward to delivering bad news. I actually considered postponing The Talk for at least another day. She was scheduled to have her senior photos taken on Saturday. That's a whole other story for another time.

So I was concerned about delivering such horrible news just hours before she was supposed to be posing for a set of once in a lifetime photos.

Would she be able to NOT look completely sad and devastated? Would I be sabotaging the photo shoot? Shouldn’t I wait until after?

But I also thought about how she would feel if I didn’t tell her and the worst happened. What if she didn’t even know he was sick and he died before she got a chance to say goodbye? Would that forever taint her senior photos? Every time she saw them would she remember “Oh yeah, that was the day my dad knew that Grandpa was dying and he didn’t even tell me so I never got to say goodbye.”

I knew what I had to do.

I woke her up on Saturday morning and told her what was going on. I didn’t tell her the part about how the doctors probably couldn’t resuscitate him again. I didn’t tell her about the doctor saying “I’m concerned”. I didn’t tell her about dad’s Advance Directive instructing the family to pull the plug because he didn’t want to be kept alive by a machine or lose his dignity.

I just told her he didn’t regain consciousness after they resuscitated him and they were still evaluating his condition. She cried. A lot.

I told her if she wanted me to take her to Olathe to see him I would. It was up to her. I assured her that I could get her there and back before the photo shoot.

As I was out running errands that afternoon, she texted me and asked “Are you sure tomorrow won’t be too late?”

Despite my best efforts to sugar coat things, she knew exactly what the situation was. I have a very smart daughter.

I assured her that we could wait until tomorrow. I knew this because my step mom had already decided that no matter what the doctors said, she wasn’t taking dad off of life support until my brother got here from California.

The neurologist ordered a CAT scan and did some tests. There was significant brain damage, but as of Saturday morning the neurologist wanted to give it another 24 hours before passing judgment.

Sunday morning I got the call that he had taken a turn for the worse and we should get to the hospital as soon as possible.

I woke GTO up and said “Get up and get ready. We need to go to the hospital.”

We headed for Olathe Medical Center. One of my brothers was already there. He was sitting in the room ICU room with my step mom holding vigil over our dad. As soon as I entered the room he bolted to the waiting room and I took his place next to my step mom.

My sister and nephew had come in with my brother but they were off grabbing a bite to eat.

A lot of my step mom’s family was already there when I arrived. More trickled in.

Finally, when everyone who was physically able to be present was in attendance, the decision was made.

Family members were asked to step out of the ICU unit while they withdrew the mechanical life support apparatus.

Family members who wished to return to be with him in his final moments were allowed back in. Those who were emotionally unable were excused.

None of my siblings could see it through. They all had emotional meltdowns and couldn’t go back in. One of my brothers had to leave the hospital before it even got to that point. And that’s OK. We all handle these things in our own fashion.

But I felt strongly that at least one of my father’s biological offspring needed to be there at the end. Although he had only been married to my mother for 18 years and he had been married to my step mom for 34 years, I couldn’t just drop all of this in the step families lap. I needed to be there.

I told GTO she didn’t have to go back in. She could go to the waiting room. She wanted to go back in and see it through. She’s as strong as she is smart.

My daughter and I were his only biological offspring to watch him draw his last breath.

My father passed away early in the afternoon of April 1, 2012.

Here are some memories of my dad from this blog. The first one goes all the way back to my very first month as a blogger in January, 2006.

My First Cussword

My Dad's Zippo

My Dad's Zippo Part 2

My Dad

I love you dad. You done good. Rest in peace.


Joe said...

Sorry I'm late with this, but I'm saddened for your loss

Xavier Onassis said...

You're not late my friend. Although I started writing this post the day he died, I didn't finish it and publish it until today.

Thank you.

Spyder said...

I'm so sorry, for you and for GTO! A girl's grandpa is a special person. I'm glad she was able to be there. I can tell that not only did you love him but you respected him too. That's not always the case with family. Hugs

Xavier Onassis said...

Spyder - Thank you!

Average Jane said...

So sad for you and GTO, but glad you were able to be there with him.

kcmeesha said...

Looks like you Father has long and eventful life, had kids who are not in prison and died with dignity surrounded by a loving family. something all of us should aspire to achieve.

Faith said...

I love that last picture of the 3 of you that you posted.

Dammit...I'm having a hard tim e typing right now because of the tears. You buggar! :P

Ok, I cleared them away. ::sigh:: I'm so sorry, XO. He has always sounded like a wonderful father. Clearly, he showed you the ropes well. All my best to you and your family during this time!

TheDLC said...

Nice post, XO. I'm glad you and GTO were able to be there in the end.

Nuke said...

A very tasteful and respectful post. My best to your whole family, but especially you and your amazing daughter.

I Travel for JOOLS said...

I'm saddened for you and GTO and your loss, but I think you both will find a certain peace by your decision to be with him as he passed.

Take care, my friend.

Keith Sader said...

I'm sorry for your loss, and hope the memories of your father console you during this period. I well remember the last moments with my father as well. Sending warm thoughts from SoCal your way. I'm glad you could be there through the end.

Anonymous said...

When your heart is empty with grief, filling it with happy memories can help you find your smile.

Know that I am sorry for your loss.

Janet said...

*hugs* to both you and GTO.

GB, RN said...

There's something special about being there when a loved leaves their mortal life. It has nothing to do with faith or religion, either. I'm glad you were able to be with him for his last moments, your daughter as well.


John Guzmán said...

So, so, so, sorry for your loss man :( he looked like an awesome guy.


Well Hell Michelle said...

Damn, I'm sorry for your loss. It's good to hear that both you and your daughter were there for him.

Nick said...

Good you were there. My sympathies.

Xavier Onassis said...

Thank you all for your kind thoughts. It means a lot.

Super Dave said...

For Xavier and GTO


Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn's rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush,
Of quiet birds circled flight
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there. I did not die.

So sorry for your loss
Take care

Groucho K. Marx said...

From your fellow blooger and (I hope) friend and a guy taking care of his own Dad on his deathbed:

My most sincere and heartfelt condolences XO- Joe and also for your most-wonderful daughter and family as well.

banky said...

I'm really sorry for your loss. I know you'll be strong for GTO because you had a father you respected and admired just like she does. You have a rich history of life and stories to regale the world with. Because of that he may never really be gone.

Xavier Onassis said...

Thanks Super Dave, Doc and Vince!

I'm grateful that he didn't linger and suffer.

Poodles said...

I'm late, but I'm sorry. I miss my dad. And my grandpa. And... Sucks ass. Hugs to you.

Ducky's here said...

I'm sorry for your loss, XO. Dad's are pretty special creatures.

I still go down to the cemetery and talk to the da when I need to.

It's funny how they stick around. He'll stick around for GTO, also.

sue hanes said...

XO - Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful life story - about your dad - and especially for posting the pictures. I felt as if your dad's life was passing before my eyes.

I am so sorry that you have lost him. He must have been a very special person.

And your daughter - I know that she is going to make a great contribution to this world - whatever she does.

I intend to check back and read the linked stories.

Thanks so much - XO - for making my stupid situation that I have allowed myself to be in - have more perspective - from reading about your wonderful Father.

L A Little said...

OMG, I just read this and I'm so very very sorry!!!!

Old Fart said...

So sorry for your and GTO's loss XO.

I went through the same thing with my mom 12 years ago.

We pulled life support per her wishes, and when the last breathes came only 2 of her 5 kids could take being there in the room with her.

I'll never forget being in that room.

Xavier Onassis said...

poodles, Ducky, sue hanes and L A Little - Thank you! And for those of you whose comments weren't published right away, I apologize. I have comment moderation turned on for anything older than 7 days and I don't maintain my blog as well as I used to.

Dan said...

Wow - beautiful post - I'm sorry it took so long for me to see it. Congrats for being related to a man who did things right. I'm sure he appreciated the fact that his son has more than the standard amount of gumption.