Long time - no Pip... - Piparskeggrsbok
Feb. 20th, 2010
08:53 am - Long time - no Pip...
It's been a few months since I've written anything here.
Many of my readers know me from other "places" and are likely aware of what is transpiring.
The last week of June, I had this terribly strong feeling that I needed to go home to Massachusetts for a visit. My wife and I were planning on doing so to be at my niece's wedding the 1st weekend of October. But, I had this overwhelming notion that if I did not go at the beginning of July, there would be someone close to me who would not be there in October.
It was a good visit...even had a spontaneous day with my dad (he's a man of habit, routine and planning). I had been telling him of some of the genealogy research I'd been doing. A name I mentioned sparked his memory...all of a sudden he offers to take a day trip, drive up to the village where my great grandmother (Mary Francis Burke nee Brady) was born. He'd recalled attending the funeral of one of her cousins in 1951, when he was 16.
We spent several hours there (Williamsburg and Haydenville), driving around the area and then we stopped at the cemetery. We found the cousin's grave, along with several others I could match with names in my research notes.
Dad had a bad cough and seemed to tire more easily than usual; losing weight, too. Mom and I worked on him to go see the doctor. He did the week after I returned to Illinois.
He'd been walking around with a pneumonia infection. During the followup for that treatment (at the end of August), they found a lemon-sized tumor in his right lung, located around the pulmonary artery, which had been masked by the pneumonia.
Preliminary treatments started; 2nd chemo was the Monday after the Wedding. Chemo was chosen because there was evidence that the cancer had spread some after the X-ray - MRI - PET - CAT - Blood Panel series was done. When it was just the big tumor, they were looking at targeted radiation. The doctors offered no false hope; when found, the cancer was already Stage 4.
Dad had a good day for the gathering...was alert and engaged during the ceremony (11 AM), ate his dinner and stayed until 9 PM at the reception afterwards. He slept most of the day afterwards and was cranky when awake.
I also got him over to his brother's house, the first time they'd been able to visit in person since July, Uncle Ed has very bad circulation in his legs and can not walk much. I also found my great grandmother Robinson's grave and brought my dad to see her. She died 4 years before he was born.
Things seemed to be going well, but the chemo did little save kick the snot out of him...
Thanksgiving was another good day for him, but he collapsed on that Saturday.
I went home again at the beginning of December. Frankly, death warmed over would have looked better. The doctors (with dad's participation) stopped chemo and put him on palliative medications, including steroids to combat inflammation. They also decided to try targeted radiation. By the end of this visit he was well enough to be transferred to an acute care facility. Uncle Ed was doing well enough that he visited dad in the hospital (the day before the transfer to the nursing facility).
Dad was home again after a couple of weeks, effecting his desire to spend the Christmas and New Year's Holidays at home. He wanted my nieces and nephews to remember him at home, rather than in hospital or nursing facility.
They are all old enough (youngest is 19) to have a raft of good memories, regardless.
The radiation did shrink the main tumor, so he was able to be home. My sister and nephews adapted my parents' 4-season porch (just off the kitchen) into a "bedsitter" for him. There is also a bathroom just off the kitchen, so he's got a little "apartment."
Dad had a set back last month, was back in hospital and then the same nursing facility...a lung infection, which did respond to treatment.
He is back home, responding to the continued palliative treatments.
Mom says he's happy; got his TV, books, crossword puzzles, just enough company. He's gotten more emotional, she said. I think the illness has just uncapped the feelings he's kept in reserve all his life.
He does have a few goals still; 1st one is this coming Thursday, his 75th birthday. I am flying back to spend it with him. Next will be my parents' 54th Wedding Anniversary at the beginning of June, mom's birthday at the end of June and the birth of his first great grandchild, sometime in July.
At the beginning of December, the doctors gave him 3 months. The way he's not just hanging on, but doing remarkably well...I think he'll make it to holding the child in July.
It will be an opportunity for us to have a 5 generation picture, as my mother's father is still with us. He'll be 99 the beginning of June and is relatively healthy for his age.
Latest sign of some fight left in him; he wants a kitten.
As for me, I'm coming out of a bout with depression, again. Hard to feel 100% when your dad's on the final leg of the journey...