So beware... if my family reads this...its all old news. But I had to write it down before I forgot. :)
Let's see....in a stickin' nutshell.
*I lost my sweet Nana in 2012. She had a 'bout with Breast Cancer in 2011 and decided to do radiation treatment. She was in remission for a while but it ended up taking her life at the age of 87. I was lucky enough, along with my siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, mom, dad and a lot of friends from church to be there with her for her last moments on this earth and it was such a life changing moment for me. To see her best friend of 50 years cry was almost more than I could bear. They had coffee together everyday. EVERYDAY at 3:00. They were like Lucy and Ethel. I wanted to be them when I grew up.
I can't even put into words how much I miss her. Her presence always gave me a sense of peace and love. She could just walk into a room and be the brightest light there, her hugs were like no other and her words of wisdom were quiet and humble. What I wouldn't give to hear her voice one more time. Sometimes I just wish for one more afternoon coffee time with her. I have so many things to tell her. Mainly, that I love her.
*Right after Nana died, my sweet and strong Daddy got sick. We had been wondering for a while if something wasn't right. He just hadn't been himself but, in true Gordon fashion, he reassured us that we were crazy. :) He started showing some signs of forgetfulness. Not of who we were but of random and everyday things. My dad was a true country boy. He was raised on a farm and knew all things about hauling hay, fixing and driving tractors, cars, trucks, mowers, cows, horses and whatever else roamed the land. He had this common sense of the earth like no one I ever knew. If there was a storm brewing or anything happening around town we were all fine as long as Dad was fine. If Dad ever felt scared or nervous, we were all in trouble. There was one particular day when my sister had asked him to change the headlights on her Suburban and he had no idea what to do. He just stared at the bulb and said, "I have never done this. I don't know how."
Um, excuse me. You've only done this 5,000 times.
There was more, but it was then that we knew something wasn't right. He was originally diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's late 2013/early 2014. That went on for a bit with significant changes. Later, he started having numbing issues with his hands and arms. My mom took him in and they ran some tests thinking that it could possibly be Parkinson's, which is one of the secondary diseases that often accompanies Alzheimer's. But, it was not. It was something we, as a family were not prepared for. They had misdiagnosed his illness. I will never forget that conference call from my mom. She had me, my sister and brother on the line to break the news. My Dad had Frontal Temporal Degeneration and Lou Gehrigs Disease/ALS. They gave him 4-6 months to live. This was March 2013. We were devastated.
We knew that time was not on our side so we tried to make every effort to go home as much as possible. Every weekend was filled with family time, laughs, cries and pictures. Lots of pictures. Dad couldn't figure out why in the world we were there so much. Along with the visits from us were the visits from home health nurses, trips to the doctor and adult sitters so my mom could get errands ran around town or just get out for a breather. He couldn't go and do as he used to and that made him mad. But, he got used to it. He hated having a "sitter". One time he locked one of them out side in the heat and they had to sit in the car until mom got home. ha!
The only upside to dads illness, if there could be such a thing, is that he only had ALS in the upper part of his body, its called bulbar ALS. So, he could still walk around but didn't have the use of his arms and hands. Later, the use of his throat would prove to the the WORST EVER!
Summer came and went and our last family vacation to Port Aransas would be one that I will remember forever. We all had to take turns watching Dad. He would just walk out in the ocean like he was heading to the next island. He had no fear. The dementia was making him more child like day by day. He had fun with all the grand kids and the pictures we have are priceless. Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went. Turkey meant nothing. Presents meant nothing. Time was moving too quickly. I could cry at the drop of a hat. Usually at night, you could find me in my closet in a big stinkin' weepy heap of a mess. Songs were my refuge and me and my ear buds became best friends. Dad loved worship songs and that was my happy place. I could feel him. The old him. The songs reminded me of him and how much he loved Jesus. Dad put his trust in his Heavenly Father and seeing his faith through this illness has forever changed me.
Eating had become horrible and his throat just wouldn't work like it used to. He had lost weight and would get so frustrated because he couldn't eat. He loved fried catfish and got really mad one Sunday after church when he got choked. It scared us and the kids so bad.
I've had a few of those calls that bring you to your knees, but the one telling me to hurry and get home because Dad isn't gonna make it too much longer and the ambulance is on the way is the worst. I don't really remember that 2ish hour drive. Its only by the Grace of God that I made it in one piece. I checked the mail a few weeks later and had a red light ticket in there....I was like...oops.
All I know is I was honored to be there for my Dad's last breath on January 30, 2014. He entered those gates of Heaven running, I'm sure! For the next few days we were loved on, prayed over, hugged and blessed by everyone. Even though the days were a blur we felt the love from our friends and family flow abundantly. As much as I miss Dad everyday, I know he is free of pain, free of disease and free to eat whatever he wants. I'm sure the Blue Bell is perfect in Heaven.
God is ever so faithful,