It's me (Allison), stepping in again as guest blogger to provide an update on the past few days. There's not too much to report in terms of major events - we've simply continued to enjoy our time together and to help make dad as comfortable as possible. He's been sleeping more and is very fatigued, but he's still able to eat (and enjoy!) food and be present in conversation with us and with visitors. He's had no other major headaches and isn't waking up as often during the night with back pain. His major complaint for the time being is just the fatigue and mental malaise.
In our visit this morning with the hospice nurse, Robert, we discussed some questions regarding what to expect in the coming weeks. Without going into the specifics, we know that we can expect dad's overall energy level to continue to gradually wane, with daily ebbs and flows. Robert likened this process to the landing of an airplane, reiterating that his role is to help manage the turbulence and allow dad to have a "smooth landing." He indicated that dad likely has many more weeks to enjoy with family and friends, but we are all mindful of how quickly these days pass and our desire to spend them well.
We're grateful for the hospice care, as it complements our efforts to accompany dad in what Robert alludes to with the airplane analogy. Dad has written before of having lived a good life and now wanting to die a good death. And he knows that his dying will be merely a passage into the life which is truly life. Over the last few weeks, dad has voiced that he is not in any hurry to die, but that he is ready. It continues to be a privilege for us to walk with him in these days, to rejoice even in this sacred threshold, this unique transition of life that Mother Teresa dared to call our "coronation." We can only see death in this light because of our faith in the resurrection. Life on earth is sweet, to which my dad's life bears testament, but the joys of heaven will be sweeter still, and so we have hope.
We enjoyed the sweetness of a warm April day yesterday, taking advantage of a visit from my dad's sisters (Kathy and Liz) and brother-in-law (Dave) to do some work in the garden. After an hour or so of weeding, the siblings headed down to the local nursery so my dad could pick out some flowers to fill the empty spots in a few beds. The garden continues to be a source of beauty and refreshment for us, especially on these warm days.
My dad has also enjoyed several other visits and phone calls from good friends in recent days. It's difficult for him to sustain long conversations, but he is delighted and encouraged to spend time with people who have meant so much to him, sometimes over the length of many years. It's a gift for the rest of us too, to witness the way in which dad has cultivated relationships with very different sorts of people and how he has been a vessel of God's love in his friendships.
Dad does hope to write again on the Ogler, but I'll continue to fill in for the days when he lacks the energy to write himself.