I prayed that God would give me just a few weeks or even days to bring my Wil home to sit on this log home porch with me and watch the sunsets again...to be here in our home and give me time to love him a little longer. I wanted to tell him how rich and fulfilling my life has been with him. (We have been married 34 years). He has loved me more than any other human being has ever loved me. I wanted to remind him how many thousands of people he has helped, inspired and challenged over the years..in his many humanitarian efforts around the world. God gave me my last request to bring him home. He had fallen June 11th and after hip surgery, intensive care, contracting urinary tract infection, which never wanted to go away, three and half weeks in Care and Rehab Center, then almost immediate drop in blood presssure to 50 and renal failure, he was rushed to ER, where Doctor gave me 1 minute to make critical decision to "let him go" or go "full code" to keep him alive. WOW I was not able to talk to anyone except the Chaplain who followed me from the Rehab Center. I made the decision to go "full code".|
My dear Wil had gone down in only a 2 day period of time and I almost lost him. He was in intensive care for 2 weeks and I stayed there 24/7 sleeping on and off and standing by his bed during the night. I was asked to make the decision to let them put a pect tube in his chest for his feeding and also a main line on his chest for all medicines and other bodily necessities. He hardly gave me any sign that he would rally or recover. Suddenly he did awaken a few times and when they saw he was out of danger, they said they would be moving him to another floor in the hospital. I followed him there and his stay continued for another 2 weeks. His UTI continued and heavier doses of antibiotics given. Then he contracted CDiff infection and his room was quarentined. I stayed 24/7 again. He rallied and was helped to sit twice in the lounge chair for 20 min. He became compative with the nurses on several occasions and I had to intervene for them.
I was informed that he was too ill and two different facilities had evaluated his charts and could not accept him because he would require skilled nursing. I was informed that in 24 hours, I would need to bring him home. I was more stressed in the following moments than I ever was singing the national anthem for 83,000 fans on televised Monday night football for the Washington Redskins. I immediately called 3 different Hospice groups and interviewed them with special questions about what they would provide and how they would help me. In 15 min. I had selected the Hospice I wanted, ordered all the equipment I would need for him, including hospital bed, lift machine, wheel chair and linens. I called the hospital and told them my equipment would be delivered at 5pm and they ordered the ambulance to deliver my Wil home to arrive about 6pm and Hospice told me they would also arrive to sign Wil in and receive the equipment and patient. I had to clear out my king sized bed and put in a double bed from the garage...all in time for Wil to arrive. My small bed would be pushed over to make room for the hospital bed. Then I had to move my files out of the bedroom and clear off my dresser, make sure my home was vaccum clean and things nomally around picked up to make room for all the visitors, nurses, doctor, chaplain and certified nurse assistants who would now be showing up at my door every day and all during the week. A gift of food was delivered from Humana, my health insurance Co., 3 cases of food drink for Wil was delivered by Hospice, Depends, plastic gloves, plastic pads for the bed, Wipes and other supplies were delivered by Hospice.
My precious 2 daughters in love were here to help me but when I finished
I was exhausted but excited that my Wil was coming home. Yes we did watch the sunsets together and I did get to love on him a little longer, but he began to decline very soon and his urine catheter suddenly showed blood in it, which the nurse recognized as his body shutting down again. On Friday Aug. 19th, the nurse removed the catheter and the last food was given to him. His bowels and bladder were no longer processing the food drink nor the applesause, toast and other real foods we were giving him. My heart sunk deeper in despair as I watched him continue to decline over the weekend. I called Hospice and told them I wanted to sign a form to DNR. I couldn't put him through that experience and possibility of crushing his fragile ribs and chest. He was still calling my name the last day of his life on Tuesday and his little cat was sleeping on his bed. I was afraid everytime I looked into the room or awoke in my bed next to his every morning...to see whether he was still breathing or not. I was in charge of his medicines and all parkinson, heart, blood pressure meds had been stopped hours earlier. It was my duty to open the "Comfort med box" which Hospice nurses told me would be reserved for the end of life needs.
I dreaded opening that box. I called the nurse one night earlier at midnight to walk me thru it and there I discovered the meds needed to help him ease his breathing. This night he was really struggling to breathe and was also trying to clear his throat. He was agitated and his hands were shaking. I gave him only a small portion of the morphine .50 because I wanted to make him comfortable but keep him awake. He was no longer talking, even calling my name but he knew I was there, stroking his face and holding his hands. I stood there praying that God would give him a safe and comfortable passing into that wonderful presence of the Lord. I left, feeling so heavy in my heart and went into the living room to sit in his tv chair and instantly dozed off. About 10 min. later, my daughter in love Gina, woke me said "mom you better come look at dad, I don't believe he is breathing." I literally ran and upon entering the room, I knew it was true. I rushed to him and touched him, waiting to feel him breathing, but my darling Wil had waited until I left the room (so I wouldn't see him leave). I just cried out, we all did, with thanksgiving to God and with heavy grief of heart. We all held him and stroked his face and hair, held his hands, hoping it was not true. But his beautiful spirit soared above the clouds like the wings of an eagle. We were on the cell phones calling family members everywhere, calling Hospice to come and crying and hugging each other. We all had participated in loving and caring for him these few days granted to us by our Heavenly Father. We were so grief striken but so happy for him. I said to everybody.."He is with the Lord and he doesn't have parkinsons anymore. He's standing up straight now. We all laughed and cried at the same time.
Yes just after midnight on Tues. 8-23, at 12:45 AM 8-24-11 my darling Wil passed from my arms into the loving arms of Jesus..."absent from the body and present with the Lord". At 3 AM we had a Christian and native ceremony for our Wil. The Hospice nurses and the Chaplain came. There were 10 of us present to help us celebrate his life in our old traditional southern way of having a "wake" in our home. They dressed him in his Marine Dress Blue Uniform with all his badges and medals, 2 sons sang Indian home going songs with Indian hand drum and I sang "Jesus Rock of Ages, let me hide in thee ", we smoked him off with eagle feather and cedar and sage, My son put an eagle feather in Wil's hand and the Chaplain gave us words of scripture to bring hope and celebration to our hearts. The Crematory Van arrived (the family did not want me to watch as my 2 sons helped take our darling Wil from our home for the last time). He will be buried later in our nation's capital, at Arlington National Cemetary with full honors.
Today the loneliness is setting in on me after days of visiting family members all around the area and others (including a son) flying in from Oklahoma to spend some time with the family. Tables of food, grandchildren playing, music going, photographs taken, dogs being called in, flowers arriving, people loading up in their cars....all of this became distractions and helped me not feel anything. I could not sleep in our bedroom for several nights...just couldn't do it. I slept on my couch. But first morning after getting to sleep at 6am...I walked down the dirt road and suddenly I shouted, whaled, bellowed out the NO, NO, NO I can't take this. He can't be gone. I bent over crying and shaking and sobbing my heart out..and suddenly someone was pulling me up. It was my elder son, and he held me as I shook with great sobs of grief.
I'm sorry this is such a long message. But I feel a little better just having gotten through this and put my feelings down on the screen.
Thank you dear Wil for these past several good days and I forgive you for the bad days you made for me (when I felt like this was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my entire life). Thank you Lord for giving me a few more days to "love on him" Thank you darling daughters in love (Cindy and Gina) and their husbands, my two sons who live here in the Smokies, for their strength and support. Thank you dear Hospice family of nurses and doctors, Julie and Jamie, and Mark the wonderful chaplain. I am passionate now about Hospice and the wonderful service they gave to my dear Wil and to our entire family. We are so greatful for your loving care and service. Thank you Father for that little hummingbird you sent to me that morning when I told you I was ready to let Wil go and I would accept your perfect will for him. That hummingbird was a sign to me that it was because you loved me so much, that you gave me that extra time to love my Wil and watch the sunset on this porch with him overlooking these beautiful Smoky Mountains.
This was so so hard for me but God was helping me each day to have the strength to endure for love's sake and to make Wil's last few days, comfortable and full of loving words and hugs and a season of peace. I was able to get a few things done that he was worried about, like getting our will updated before he passed. I had to help him sign his name because he forgot how to hold the pen. He had a beautiful sense of humor the last few days before he stopped speaking. One day, after he was irritated with the nurse pulling him over, the nurse said she was all done and would be leaving..he looked at her and said "you promise?". This was an amazing man who touched the lives of thousands and was loved by so many. I love you darling Wil. "I will always love you and I will see you in the morning."