Where to start,... first off sorry I've not written sooner. Still wrappin' my head around it all. Quite a little story to tell & the life experience for my family recently, has left me without words these few days after his passing. Ya see,... Dad grew up in the Catskill Mountains, NY, in a small school & in a small family. Most folks home would have only known him for his ability to play a bunch of instruments from the wee Ukelele to the Great Highland Bagpipes(& practically everything in between). Two years ago he left his homeland for the Pacific Coast to bring the gospel the Lummi Indian Nation near the Canadian border in Washington state. It had been his dream to do so & in the 80's he had had a vision that the Lord would bring him back to the waters he was visiting on vacation to do so.
In mid August this year, he caught a cold that wouldn't go away & then after xrays the Doc's determined that he had Pneumonia. A few weeks later they drained 2 liters of fluid from his lungs & examined the fluid to understand the cause. On a Thursday they phoned him & let him know that they had found Cancer cells in the fluid... Being the eldest Son he rung me first whilst I printed business cards for the Carolina Surf Rod llc. debut at the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the annual swapmeet. Floored,... I cried a bit & told him I would be on my way soon as I was able, just hoping to comfort him the following week when we expected to hear the Onocologist's way ahead for possibly the next 9 months to 9 years & perhaps that they had made a mistake or that we could find out his chances of beating the disease...
I came in on that Saturday & Tom, his fellow Missionary, met me and my little family at the airort in Bellingham, WA(a very tiny stop). Dad was back to the Docs for medication & a check up. When he got home he was pulling an O2 bottle.... … ... Dad Bagpiped for 30+ years & could hold his breath past the 2 minute mark. At 57 (was not a smoker) & I just 20 years the younger(nearing 40),... I hugged him in unbelief. Embracing the old man he whispered I love you & thanks for coming. I wanted to be a good son & bear the news with him,... I didn't expect the next few days to go like they did...
We watched some of the Long Way Around documentary(I really wanted to do a long trip with Dad someday) & Sunday mornin' we went to church. Not knowing what else to do at the end of the service, I wheeled his chair down front, shaking I hulked him from the wheelchair tears streaming & choked up I motioned for the worship band to gather round & pray for the not so old, Old Man. I held him like a child & trembled some more. I prayed for him & then asked a blessing on the worship band after they had prayed for him with his fellow missionary. My little one(2 ½ his only Grandaughter) danced for him & sang,... he urged me to let her run & fuss all she wanted,... he said, “she brings life to this house” with a winded pleasing smile in dear love of his Grandchild.
Dad didn't sleep Sunday night, I didn't know,... Monday we had another appointment with a care giver plus an Xray to do. I had to hand fed him most of the day with cut food & water through a straw, whilst he bent over struggling to breath. I lifted him to get the Xrays clothed in a lead blanket they gave me. We hoped to see what his Lung fluid level looked like soon. I stayed up all day Monday & Tuesday without sleep urging him to breath & relax as I monitored both his O2 level (that hit as low as 79%, normall is 95%+) & his heartrate (that hit as high as 124, normal for him was 60). He fought for everybreath for 48 hours straight as I held his hand & stayed by his side to encourage him. We prayed a lot as he cried out to God that he was drowning in his lungs. I held & kissed him on th head & prayed some more.
The next morning(Tuesday) I told his bride that she needed to hear what I had to say,... she could no longer look after him,... & that he needed in the Hospital as soon as we could calmly gather paperwork & our selves together. All this while we called the Xray techs, Onocologist & Caregiver to prep the Emergency room (stacking cards in our favor for immediate treatment of another Lung Draining procedure)upon arrival). When we arrived we were able to wheel him back immediately & they were able to stabalize his breathing with some morphine & a larger mask with higher pressures, I figured we'd get him comfortable & worry about the Cancer report Thursday as scheaduled. We were not supposed to be visited by the Onocologist that morning, he excused my little girl out the room & gave Dad 6 weeks to live,... he had stage 4 of the most rapidly attacking cancer there is. He said the biggest problem was,... he didn't know when the 6 weeks started(later determined at first cough 6 wees prior). We cried, we prayed & then I made the hard calls to the family with the news & that the doc suggested if people wanted to see him,... they needed to start there journey soon. Another procedure was approved & they pulled 1.6 Liters out of his left lung. With a shot of Morphine it was immediate relief. We were given a room where I layed in a recliner next to Dad all Tuesday night & he rested a bit,... but not before many visits. The Elder of the Lummi Tribe(95 years old) had taken Dad as her son in recognition of his love & commitment to summer camps & activities with the little people, her Grand & Great Grand Children by wrapping him in a blanket. Though she would normally not travel due to age she came to the hospital as did many Native Brother to my Father.
(to be continued...)
God Bless & Godspeed!