As I briefly posted, my father-in-law went to his heavenly home on January 17, 2010. In the spring he began having shortness of breath and in the fall he was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. In layman's terms, idiopathic means they don't know exactly what caused it and they have no cure for it. Fibrosis is the hardening of something and pulmonary is the lungs. So his lungs were hardening, making it harder and harder for him to breathe. It is also a progressive disease meaning it will get worse and worse.
On Wednesday, January 13 he was unable to get out of bed due to breathing difficulties and a general feeling of being unwell. Mom took him to the emergency room and he was admitted to the hospital. The doctor said he might have pneumonia and was treating him with antibiotics as well as oxygen. On Thursday the 14th there was talk of him being able to go home on Friday. But Friday morning Mom called and said he had taken a turn for the worse and would we please come.
We were so sad when we walked in the hospital room. It was just really hard to take in that he was on a type of oxygen mask that suctioned to the face and it was obvious that he was very, very sick. Through the day he got no better, but he wasn't really worse. John's other brothers were called and the one who lived in Ohio decided to come right away, but he wouldn't be able to get there until late Saturday evening. Throughout the day family members came and went and we sang, prayed, and read Scripture.
On Saturday we talked briefly with the doctor and he did not give us any hope for Dad's recovery. The antibiotics were not doing anything and essentially the oxygen machine was breathing for him. Saturday evening he seemed much weaker and more uncomfortable. Jim and his family arrived in the evening and Daniel and Suzanne were able to talk to Dad on the phone. We spent more time singing to Dad and praying and reading the Bible. Saturday evening John and I were leaving so we could get Mom home to bed. I said good-night to Dad and he said, "I'll be ok." Then he was motioning at the clock (it was about 10 p.m.) so one of the grandsons said, "Is it past your bedtime, Papa?" and he nodded that it was! Then he motioned that the grandsons should put away their guitars. We were all laughing together as his sense of humor was still in tact!
On Sunday the three sons who were present and their wives along with mom, met with the doctor. Dad had been very clear about no life-support and the doctor told us that the type of oxygen he was on, while non-intrusive like a breathing tube would be, was meant to be a short-term treatment to stabilize people. It was clear that it was time to say our good-byes to dad.
The hospital staff said nothing about us breaking the two-visitor-in-the-room rule as sixteen of us crowded into Dad's room. We called John's brother, Dave who lives in Oklahoma and he was able to talk to Dad. One of the pastors from Trinity Covenant Church came in and we had a church service together around Dad's bed, commending him to Jesus. Many of us then took his hand and told him good-bye. Then the nurse came in and switched his oxygen to a smaller type of mask and gave him a shot of morphine to make him more comfortable.
At that point Dad, who obviously knew everything that was going on, pushed the mask down off his nose and mouth and gave us what we've come to call the patriarchal blessing. He summoned his strength, raised his hands, and said:
"My prayer to God is that you all remain faithful to Him and serve Him and to consult Him in all your decisions.
He has His loving hands ready to forgive you, if you will repent and....(we missed some words here)
No matter whatever may happen, come hell or high water, He will carry you through and He will give you a glorious inheritance far, far better than anything on earth.
And with all your power, all your strength, all your might, you will rest in Him.
Beyond anything I could describe I will rest at His side both body, soul, mind, and spirit.
If you fall, He will forgive you. I pray you don't fall hard. I love each one of you and pray for each one of you every single day.
When you are driving, playing games, or fooling around, He is always there. He knows what you are thinking right now.
Let me go.
If you want me, Lord, I'm ready. Take me, Lord Jesus."
As soon as he began speaking we realized it was important. John grabbed a pen and started scribbling and across the room Caleb did the same. They were able to compare their notes and the above is what he said.
After bestowing his blessing on us, he showed no desire to put the mask back over his nose and mouth, so the nurse came in and gave him another shot of morphine so he would not feel the pain. She was such a good nurse and supportive of us all. She wept as she whispered to him what she was doing and said good-bye.
As Dad lay there breathing his last, we sang all his favorite songs. It was a comfort to us and I believe to him as well. We literally sang him on his way to heaven. An hour and a half later he entered eternity. When he quit breathing and his heart quit beating we sang the Doxology as sobs filled the room. On Friday and a bit on Saturday he had asked repeatedly for a cup of hot chocolate, but he couldn't eat or drink and breathe at the same time, so sadly we had to deny his requests. But after singing the Doxology, John prayed, giving Dad to Jesus and asking Him to please give him a cup of hot chocolate when He met him at heaven's gate.
We stayed with mom all week. Brother Dave came during the week and on Thursday Daniel and Suzanne were able to fly in. They stayed just a little over 24 hours. There is paperwork to be done, things to be sorted through, etc. Dad had planned things well and the week went as smoothly as could be expected. Mom is an incredibly strong person and finds so much comfort in knowing that Dad is with Jesus.
We had a memorial service Friday night. Around 500 people attended. There were others who would have attended if they could have, such as the prisoners who Dad ministered to every week. The service honored Dad and glorified God. The one thing that keeps coming up over and over is how Dad prayed for people and how much that meant to them. What an example for me to follow!