Saturday, October 21, 2006

Another New Day

I wrote about A New Day not too long ago. Today is a another new day for me. I have spent one week without my dad and my heart is broken. I haven"t written in a while so let me try to catch up.

Thursday, October 12, 2006: I visited dad this evening. He was unresponsive to my touch, questions or commands, though when the respiratory therapist came in and moved his oxygen monitor on his finger, he clinched his fist and wouldn't let her put it back on. This was the only sign he was still with us. Usually when he doesn't respond or wake up, I just stay 15-20 minutes and go home. Tonight I felt as though I shouldn't leave so quickly so, I stayed for about an hour or so. As I looked out the window in the dark night, I prayed that God would work out his will in dad's life and to keep him from suffering. When I arrived home, met me at the top of the stairs and asked me what was wrong. I told her nothing but I was a little depressed. I was thinking a lot about the times I had complained to her about having to go and put dad to bed, especially when I had something else planned. My thoughts were of God telling me, "Brad, since you complained so much about taking your dad to bed, you won't have to do that any more."; And then dad ends up in the hospital where others are taking care of him and I'm just in the way. I know that's not the way God works but I guess it is a natural thought during a long illness of a loved one.

Friday, October 13, 2006: I went to work this morning and immediately began the daily fire drill of fixing what was broken. My latest project was on the rocks and sinking fast so I had to get the vendor working on it ASAP. I received a call from the nurses at about 10:30am saying that dad's vital signs didn't look good. So, I drop what I am doing and jump in the truck headed for the hospital. When I got to the room, dad's blood pressure was 95/45 and I remember thinking, "This isn't good." Dad was still unresponsive and his vital signs were very weak. The doctor had stopped by to talk with me and told me things did not look very promising. She also told me that they had noticed blood in dad's urine and began testing for what they already knew; confirmation came back this morning that his kidneys were already shutting down. Jennifer came in and encouraged me to talk to him but I couldn't say much without tearing up because I knew what was to soon come. I told her I wanted to talk to him but I just couldn't get the words out without crying uncontrollably and I didn't want him to know how upset I was. Later that evening we decided to go get a bite to eat. During the meal we discussed whether or not to go back to the hospital and stay with dad. We decided that we should go home and get a good night's sleep because there might be some long days and nights ahead before the inevitable occurred. I found it difficult to go to sleep knowing that the phone might ring any minute with bad news.

Saturday, October 14th, 2006: The phone rings and my biggest fear is now real. The nurse told me that we needed to come right away. We quickly dressed and headed to the hospital. As we got off of the elevator and headed to dad's room, the nurse stepped from behind the desk and with tears in her eyes she shook her head. I asked, "He's gone?" and she nodded her head. I grabbed Jennifer and held her tight as my heart broke. My daddy was gone. I had been expecting this with every phone call for the past eight or ten years. Now it had finally come to pass. My pastor had just arrived and the nurse let us into the room to see dad. Jennifer commented on the peaceful look on dad's face, he seemed to finally be at rest. As she looked out the window she noticed a beautiful sunrise over the hilltops. It seemed so fitting to see such beauty through the window and I could imagine dad had seen that sunrise as he was led by angels to meet the Master in heaven. Brother Jim mentioned how Jesus had risen early in the morning to meet with his Father in Heaven and it seemed that my dad had done just that; he had risen early from his worn out earthly body to meet with Jesus. At 5:37am, dad went home to be with Jesus.

In just a couple of hours it will be a full week since dad left this world. He has begun a new day in Heaven. His days will no longer be filled with gasping for breath or wondering if the next breath will be his last. No more pain or suffering. I am still here and I will make it through this but, my heart is broken. We are never truly prepared to lose a loved one but, I believe God has been preparing me for this for quite some time now. I believe the times of taking dad to bed over the last year or so were provided by God as a way for us to spend time together when my schedule wouldn't allow any other time. Dad and I used to talk on the phone almost every night, even if I was coming over to take him to bed. I believe God used the last thirteen weeks of dad being in the hospital as a way to get me used to not talking to dad every night. I believe God allowed me to go home the night before dad passed away because I don't think I could have handled being in the room when he passed. I also believe God has prompted me, through the encouragement of other people, to start writing these journals to help me express my feelings and to help ease the pain by sharing it with others. There are many other ways that I can see God's providence through this trial and I realize, none of this is about me or dad. It is about God getting the glory for helping us in our time of need. He promised he would never leave us or forsake us and I believe he has been right by my side through all of this. We finished cleaning out dad's house yesterday and I think that was the hardest part so far because now it is real. There is no place to go that was dads; he is really gone.

Every day will be another new day for me for quite some time. I will be missing arguing with my dad over some silly thing or him fussing at me for shaving my head. Though it was inconvenient at times and very difficult to see him struggle to breathe, I will miss going and taking him to bed every night and I will miss the daily phone calls. I will miss being able to ask him advice on things like fishing, cooking, or maybe building a deck or playground for Jordan. I have lost my best friend, my biggest fan, and most of all, My Daddy.Brad Walker

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Essence of Time

A couple of weeks ago, dad was moved to a long term care unit in the hospital where he has been for the last ten weeks. Wow, ten weeks! It is amazing how our brains process time. It seems like only a few days ago dad went into the hospital yet, it also seems like he has been there for years. Where does the time go?

I recall spending my childhood days wishing for summer; school would be over and I could do all the fun things kids do when they aren’t in school. Then, as soon as it came, summer was over and it was time to go back to school again. Then the wish was for Christmas break and so on and so on the cycle continued. I began to think about these things recently when the Crimson Tide of Alabama faced the warthogs…ummmmm…. I mean Razorbacks of Arkansas. I had promised my dad I would spend the afternoon watching the game with him. Having been in SICU, I had not been able to spend more than a few minutes with him in over eight weeks. We enjoyed most of the game together but the nurses came in and gave him his medication just at the start of the fourth quarter causing him to fall asleep almost immediately. Even though he slept, I kept my promise and stayed to watch the remainder of the game, including two overtimes. These few hours will likely remain in my memory as some of the most precious times I have ever spent with my dad. Mike Shula’s boys lost the game but I won some much needed time with my dad.

This is the essence of time; it is not necessarily how you spend the time but simply that you took the time to spend with your loved one or friend. Many times we tend to be too busy to spend time with those we care about. Something always comes up and causes us to put off spending time with those closest to us. I recall a song by Harry Chapin that starts off like this:

A child arrived just the other day

He cam to the world in the usual way

But there were planes to catch and bills to pay

He learned to walk while I was away.

And he learned to talk before I knew and as he grew,

He said “I’m gonna be like you, dad,

You know I’m gonna be like you”

Many of you probably remember the rest of the song. I can look back on my life and say I was much like the boy; I wanted to be like my dad. And as time passed, I can see all the times I had other things to do and did not go see my parents. Dad always tried to spend as much time with me as possible but there were those times when something else took the place of our time together. My dad may not have been the best dad but he was the best one I will ever have. I know I have a few precious days left with my dad (I already miss not talking to him on the phone every evening), so I am making the best of the times I can spend with him. I am also trying to make a conscious effort to spend time with my mom or at least calling her every day or so just to say hi because I know my time is limited with her, also, even though she is quite healthy. I am also trying to make time for other relatives that I just don’t get to see or talk to very often. But most of all I am trying to make sure I spend quality time with my daughter on a regular basis. I want her to know that she is important enough for me to spend time reading, playing dolls or just sitting and watching her movies.

We are only on this earth for a short period of time and we should use that time wisely. Taking time out of our busy schedules to spend with others could very well make all the difference in someone’s life; It says “You are important to me and I care about you”, you never even have to say a word. This is the Essence of Time!

Brad Walker