… the visits were a great comfort to Dad & he was deeply touched by each & every one. I got to meet someone special that Dad xalled his Big Brother “Ron Warbus” aka Uncle Ron. They basically ended up havin' a Christian worship service right there in the hospital room,... Granny(Mary Helen, the elder) played her drum & sang hymns & songs in her Native tongue that are only sang by her family. She has a voice of many waters & the presence of someone very important. When she speaks, everyone listens. Dad, though labored in breath, prayed a blessing over the people & told them “Haishka”,... which means thank you in their language. Many of them also prayed over Dad. We finally got Dad down for some rest & with a couple helps to the Lieu,... I got him to bed.
The next mornin' many nurses, folks from hospice & several missionaries came to see Dad. My brother arrived, so that was Dad's second child,... one more to go. Swil Kanim, a miraculous Lummi violinist came to see Dad. He had recently performed for the Seattle Orchestra. He was an incredible artist & after a performance for us humble hillbilly's,... joked with Dad that he had actually brought the instrument by to see if Dad would mind playing it. Dad smiled & with weary eyes & a big grin beneath an oxygen tube in his nose told him he would be honoured. He played an old hymn called Sweet Hour of Prayer with a very olde tymey feel & then stepped it up once thru into a jig version of the same song. We all clapped & it was good to have been there to see Dad play the fiddle once more. We had collectively agreed to hospice for Dad & so that afternoon we went.
Emergency room, Hospital & Hospice in 2 days,... it all happened so very quick. Young people from te Lummi Nation came by to Dad's bedside including a 13 year old girl he had been teaching the Ukelele to. What choked me up was that even the younger kids would sit by Dad's bed quietly ooking at him with the face of a 40 year old mother who was loosing a Son. No one taught them this mature notion,... & it was heartbreaking to behold. The young girl & her 2 sibblings were known as the Jefferson Sisters.
Dad had told me that the Lummi women, when they grieved pulled a voice from deep down that was indescribable, I did not expect it to be so piercing. These young girls voices could split the mightiest oak with the shear power they delivered these accapello songs with. I shuttered & cried,... unable to look at them as they sang so beautifully at Dad's bed side. Their beautiful voices echoed thru out the Hospice. I'm sure the others there makin' there own journeys home were as touched as we were. I don't know how to,...
...all I can say is pure. They sang with all their might, in love,... & for my old man who had spent a little time with them over the course of only 2 years. The Superbowl has never heard the talent at a half time show that these gals brought to a man who simply loved & encouraged them.
People from the mission brought food & homemade rhubarb pie. The Hospice volunteers made hot soup, cookies & fresh coffee. Dad witnessed to one of the Gals as he had been doing the nurses in the hospital,... My brother & I would make the old man as comfy as possible,... & try to look after him thru the night. He was on a trickle of morphine,... & his breathing was laboured, though he had no pain.
The next Mornin' we got one more jam session in with Dad on Uke, my brother on Mandolin, me on a Travel guitar & Dad's fellow prison chaplain on a fullsize guit-fiddle. He'd pass in & out but we carried on. My Sister flew in that afternoon. Dad had all 3 kids now. Family, Friends & Missions folks would come from all over the Continental US & several Provinces of Canada. More visits, more food. His 90 year Old Mom & Dad would be in the next day to see him I would say in his ear as I held a water straw to his lips & encouraged him to eat some fruit I had broke up for him. Got some good scottish oatmeal in his belly with a wee bit o jam for sweatner. Dad prided himself (though humble) as a highlander albeit he was a few generations from his Grandad that had come over from Scotland & had answered a call to bring the gospel to the First Nations(Native) folk in western Canada many years ago. Sis was a bit of a sweet goof but Dad told her that her laughter filled the room with sunshine. He loved all of us knucklehead kids. Dad would get one last night with all us kids(all nearin' 40) at his bedside. A couple kisses good night & failed attempt at the potty & that would be near the end of Dad's ability to communicate with us as I set my chair close to his bedside so I could hear him breath & coax him along thru his last night.
By midnight I knew he was slippin'. The caregiver came in & I could tell her concern. By 6am I was able to sit him up a bit & wet his lips with a swab. My brother & Sister did not understand what was taking place at first & when Dad's bride arrived, we had to put her at ease. Dad unable to do much more than breath,... passed away around~2:15 that afteroon surrounded by his children, wife, other family & friends,... knowin' full well where he would spend eternity,... surrendered to God's will & trusting in faith for His mercy. Friendly Laughter, Singing & funny stories of things he'd done had filled his room that day as he left us peacefully to go home.
We should all be so fortunate...
(once more, to be continued,...)
God Bless & Godspeed!