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Memories of a Great Dad

Dad went home after two weeks in the hospital. His recovery was slow, but he got back into his old routine, driving, traveling, volunteering and helping out at church. He joined his friends who joked about being members of the “Zipper Club.” A f ter about f ive years, things gradually began to change. He was not reading, which was unusual. His face, usually bright and inquisitive, was sometimes expressionless. His eyes had a f lat glare. He would have hallucinations and became easily disoriented. Parkinson’s was the doctors’ first diagnosis, though they later changed it to Dementia with Lewy Bodies. In either case, it was irreversible. Mom, who had spent much of her adult life as a caregiver for her parents, Dad’s parents and their aunts, now had a new patient to tend to, the man she had loved since she was a girl. *** Pat, my wife, first met Dad in September of 2004 when we went to Grand Rapids to meet my parents. Dad was living full time in the Christian Rest Home, the same home where he had been a volunteer for several years. When we walked in, Dad was sitting in his wheelchair, his head lolled slightly to the side. Mom had combed his hair and shaved him before we arrived. When I kissed him, he said, “Hi, Dickie.” I introduced him to Pat, and we made small talk before taking him on a

strenuous daily walks through the neighborhood. He said that once he pushed through the tightness in his chest he felt better. Then in February 1993, a latenight call woke me. Dad was in the hospital undergoing emergency bypass surgery for blocked arteries. He was out of surgery by the time my plane landed, and when I got to the hospital our small family was gathered in the ICU waiting room. Mom was distraught and exhausted. Then suddenly there was a rush of activity. Dad’s surgery had been an emergency. He had not stopped taking the aspirin to thin his blood, a nd t he incisions t hat held his cracked chest together were coming lose. He was seeping to death. A second surgery stopped the bleeding, but the drama was not over. After a week in the ICU, the doctors decided he was healthy enough to move into a general hospital room. Soon he broke into a raging fever and began struggling to get out of bed. Bob and I had to hold him down as Mom and Mary got the doctors. Back in the ICU, his body swelled with fluids. His face seemed to stretch and become part of his chest. He was close to death, and the doctors worked hard to stabilize him. He later asked Mom, “Why were the boys holding me down?” The swelling gradually went down, and his vitals returned to normal. 40

Profile for Tidewater Times

June 2014 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times June 2014

June 2014 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times June 2014