I got the call after work one day.
“He has decided that it is time. Monday we will talk to the doctors.”
My father-in-law who had suffered a fall back in August and became a quadriplegic instantly had made a decision that it was time to stop the suffering. Long months spanned in between that time. Travel, eating out, packing up our kids, hospitals, hotel rooms, 3 hour drives, just to be there and to soak in our time with him. We had hopes. One day he would come home. One day he would walk again. One day he would hold our newborn baby and feel the weight in his arms. One day he would wheel his chair around the shop and teach his son the ropes.
On the drive up the thought raced through my mind. What do I say? How do I say goodbye? How do you sum up so much and speak to a person for the last time here on earth?
We spent the day with him just like every other day we had spent with him since the accident.
When it was time we woke him from his nap and I looked into his eyes. “Bye.” In a whisper that’s all I had. That’s all that came out. His eyes closed. I turned away.
I was mad at myself for not saying more and at the same time had nothing more to say.
We drove home.
Silent, lost, confused, searching for answers to all of our questions. Empty.
He left this earth knowing he was loved and admired and missed.
For his service our preacher read this:
“Bill and I didn’t need to talk much. We could enjoy each other’s company without saying much. He meant a lot to me. One thing for sure is he was ALWAYS there for us no matter what. Like the time I decided it would be a good idea to put Dawn detergent in my dishwasher and ended up with a leaking brand new dishwasher and bubbles everywhere. He came right up to look at it and let me know what the problem was without making me feel like a total idiot.
No matter how difficult or messy the job was. If we needed help he was here. He was on our roof in the heat of the summer hammering black shingles to our new house so we could get it done. He helped build our deck and put every spindle in across the length of our house. That’s just to name a few.
I will never forget the winter before last when I put the Tahoe in the ditch on PP on my way to work. Within the hour he was there in knee deep snow to help me out. He drove his heatless truck there and waited with me until we got everything straightened out. Later that night Dale called him to come rescue him because the transmission went out in our car. Sun up to sun down he was there. He never complained or made us feel bad. He was there.
He was there to hold our babies and pace around the house with them. We thought he was spoiling them to death. Turns out that was exactly what he was doing and who cares if he was. He loved them there is no doubt about that and they loved him. We would see the joy in their eyes just about every Sunday of their little lives when he would walk in the door for dinner. He would yell, “Hey, What are you doin!” and they would scream GRANDPA! I miss that!
We will hear it again someday though. Until then we will be careful, Bill. Especially careful. We will make sure their memories of you will stay strong in their minds. Even Weston. He didn’t have long with you, he never felt your touch, but when I took him out of the room you asked to get him back in there. We will make sure he knows all about you.
You were a selfless, kind, loving, hard working man that loved his family and friends beyond measure. I think that is evident by the out pouring of love and support they have all shown since the accident. They talk about your smile, your talent, your hard work. What a gift you have given me in your son and the characteristics you have passed to him. I’ll always be thankful to you for that. We’ll see ya!”
He made death easier to accept for us. Suddenly it didn’t seem so scary. He left his print in this world and touched the lives of others. Our selfish hearts are trying to heal and move on without him. In so many ways we are missing him. First days of school, holidays, first t-ball games, cooking out, working around the yard. He isn’t here when we got so used to him being here. We are missing him. There was a reason. There is a lesson. We are searching to find them. If nothing else, we realize just how precious our time is and how quickly things can change.
You can read our journey through this experience through these posts.