Around 7:30 this evening, my dad died.
As you all can imagine, while we knew it was coming, no one expected it so soon. I arrived at noon to relieve Cynthia and he was about the same as yesterday – groggy but awake. The hospice nurse had asked to speak with me and told me she’d seen a marked decline since her visit Saturday, but I knew that. She said the nurses would continue checking on him more frequently which they did.
He was pretty restless most of the day and very confused, but we watched a movie for a bit and he grooved to the Les Mis soundtrack in his wheelchair before asking to go outside for a while. I had a nurse help me with his oxygen and we went to sit in the shade in the courtyard. When he was ready to go back inside he didn’t want me to leave and get a helper, so the two of us somehow managed (mostly me) to get his wheelchair and oxygen tank inside the door, promptly after which he started feeling very ill. The nurse helped him calm down and gave him some medications and a nebulizer, and he seemed relatively stable for a while.
Brett Reese called right around that time and then asked if he could stop by for a few minutes; meanwhile I was trying to communicate with everyone I could who was asking about his status today. Brett arrived just in time to give me a shoulder to cry on. Duane Everson came by to check on Dad and sang to him (as did some other friends earlier).
Dave Topp and my brother Jeff arrived when Dad was feeling particularly antsy, and though he had a ton of meds in him he couldn’t settle into sleep. Whenever one of us suggested he lay down he said, "No." A couple of times I was successful in convincing him to rest, but then he’d sit up again and just rest his hands to his side or his head on his hand.
Sondy Berg Jensen came by to relieve me and help me schedule his helpers over the next several days (and to bring me some much-needed snacks), and soon Dave came out to where we were sitting to tell me that the nurse said I should get back to his room. A few minutes later Dad took his last breaths.
My mom, Nate and Jeff (who had just left and had to turn back around from Richfield) and I gathered in Dad’s room, had some Brandy Dans with Nate and Jeff’s respective significant others, and cried a massive amount of tears. Brett arrived for a visit and was as shocked as we were to find Dad no longer alive.
Dad expressed his wish that the funeral take place at Valley Grove Church, so I’ll be contacting them tomorrow to find a day and time available this week. That will likely be a private service since the church is so small. We decided that we’ll have a public visitation and what I hope will be a big blow-out memorial event to honor my extraordinary father.
When we’ve decided on plans, they’ll be posted in the Northfield News, here, KYMN, Facebook and pretty much everywhere else we can think of.
Thank you to everyone who sent their good wishes, visited Dad, cared for him, and generally loved him.
I’m rather numb as I write this, but I’m going to miss him more than I know right now.
Now raise a glass to Mr. Northfield, a rather spectacular guy.