The irony was too cruel. He was walking more steps, without fear of falling and the physical therapists said he was doing so much better.

by Luci

My father died on April 11, 2012. He had been hospitalized 3 different times in 2 months because of a recurring urinary infection. The last time he was in the hospital was especially difficult. The infection had spread so virulently that he wasn’t himself. He didn’t know who I was and was so angry and confused, unaware of what was happening and he had to be restrained. He kept trying to get out of bed and didn’t have the ability to walk on his own. I was horrified that he didn’t realize who I was. The doctors were not particularly reassuring. They said that when infections were severe enough to fill the blood stream, naturally, that same blood supply feeds the brain. They told me after a few days of antibiotics he could recover all his memory…or part of it…or not at all. There were no guarantees. Luckily, he came around, recognized me and understood what was going on, and only 4 short days after being admitted, they told me he had to go to a rehab facility because it was apparent he was too weak to come home with me. I was frantic that it was too soon, that the infection was still not completely under control, but they released him to the rehab facility anyhow.

I lived in an apartment, there were stairs, and I could not carry him. He needed to be able at least to use his walker. He suffered such a severe arthritis and spinal stenosis, was bone on bone on both knees and his right hip was shot. He had such excruciating pain that not even time-released morphine worked. No surgeon would do any kind of joint replacements on him because he smoked. At 83, he wasn’t going to stop smoking (a habit he developed after witnessing the horrors of WWII as a boy of 11), no matter what was promised to him re an improved quality of life. And the truth is, the rehab after a knee or hip replacement would’ve been extensive and I think on some level he wanted to be with my mother so badly that he was totally disinterested in long term rehab to get his “fake” limbs working properly. So he went to rehab, kicking and screaming and I was there every day visiting. He desperately missed his kitty and wanted to come home in the worst way. His physical therapists had been working with him and for the first time in months, he was strong enough to walk well, albeit with a walker, but that was a huge improvement. Back at home, he was so weak he could not manage the few steps he needed to take to get from his chair or bed to the bathroom, even with the walker. He hated the indignity of all of it. He did so well 9 days after being in rehab, they said he was well enough to go home. We were both delighted.

I went over there around 4 pm, bouncing into his room saying, “OK, Dad, I’m here to bust you out of this place.” I thought he’d like that. Instead, I found him in the bed, ashen colored and disoriented. He seemed totally unaware that I was there to bring him home. I found out later he had been bragging to the physical therapists earlier that day that I was taking him home. I asked him if he felt sick and he nodded but could not speak. He vomited briefly and when I called the RN on duty, she could not find a pulse or any blood pressure after trying several times to get one. At rehab facilities here, they have no doctor on the premises so when the nurses come upon an emergency, they must call the paramedics or EMT. Within 5 minutes of calling, the EMT came into the room and took over. They rushed him to the nearest hospital and I didn’t want that. The hospital was not reputed to be a good one and all his records/doctors were at the hospital about 10 minutes away from the rehab. I wanted him taken there and the EMT told me that their policy didn’t allow them to bypass a hospital nearby for one further away; they had to go to the nearest hospital. They then told me that the way things were with him, my dad might not make it to that other, more distant hospital. 36 hours later, he was gone.

A flurry of people worked on him in the ER and got him somewhat stable, but he had sepsis (blood poisoning), undoubtedly the result of the urinary infection that had never been truly managed. He was somewhat lucid and a few hours later, in a small room just outside the ER where he was waiting for the transitional doctor to tend to him, he kept apologizing to me. That he didn’t want to be a burden. He kept saying, “Poor Luci, poor Luci” something he said to me whenever he was hospitalized and I would visit him. He told me to please not yell at his “boy”, the kitty he was so attached to and lovingly referred to as "his boy" even though his real name was Velvet (and whom I did yell at occasionally because he was so hyper and went charging thru the house at 40 miles an hour). Then he told me what turned out to be the last words I'd ever hear him say, “I’m so tired, Lu. So very, very tired.” And I knew immediately what he meant. He wasn’t tired from a lack of sleep or from the ordeal he was going thru at the time. He was tired of living the way he was. His quality of life had diminished in so many ways, a part of him truly no longer wanted to live. I found out later from friends that he fought to stick around all this time because he knew I’d be alone once he left, and he wanted to spare me that awful mourning as long as possible. 36 hours after the EMT picked him up from the rehab and took him to the hospital, he was gone. The ultimate irony. Instead of going home with me, I went home alone, never to be with him or see him again. Blood pressure can only be “simulated” with medications for so long. Pulse was so faint as a result. He wound up on a ventilator and he wanted no machines and before I could even notify the few friends that might have wanted to say goodbye that things were bad and I was taking him off the machines the next day, he decided to leave…without waiting for any more goodbyes. I went over to the ICU to see him the night before the machines were supposed to be shut down. The doctor met me at the door telling me he just left me a phone message. He had deteriorated so rapidly that “tomorrow” was no longer an option. He told me he likely had only a few minutes left to live, that not even the ventilator was enough because pneumonia had set in and a number of other things besides. The EKG he showed me was almost already completely flat-lined. I spoke to him and caressed his face and desperately hoped he could hear me say I love you. People always say that whether or not a person can respond to you when they’re in that condition, they do hear what you say. I have no idea whether that’s true. Who has the proof? No one has come back after being gone and told a loved one, hey, yeah, I heard what you said and I love you, too. A couple of my friends who had planned to go see him that night anyway, did come, but they were too late. I cannot begin to tell you how devastating a loss this has been.

My dad came to live with me 11 years earlier after my mother died. We had a difficult, complicated relationship for a large part of my life, but he couldn’t remain in the same place where he lived with my mother…not possible financially and too many bad memories for him if she wasn't with him. My mother was his life, together 51 years, and he was a lost soul. I knew it would not be easy for us to live together and we had many challenges to work thru. I know my mother fully expected that I would take care of him when the time came and I adored my mother, so not taking care of him was never an option for me. I’m lucky that we had resolved most of our challenges and although I doubted whether he loved me for much of my life, I had no doubts about that when he died.

But here I am, nearly a year after his passing, and I feel so lost and so abandoned. My family was very small and I have no one now except for a sister in an assisted living facility thousands of miles away and we have never been close. She’s got some mental disabilities and I’ve got physical ones and I am in a fairly unique situation. My friends are scattered and far away and we don’t see each other often…people are busy and have their own lives to tend to. My family is virtually gone. I’m divorced after a very short, terrible marriage years ago and I have no children. So the silence in my heart and in my household is deafening. I would like to think that my parents are now reunited, continuing their incredible love affair of more than 51 years wherever they are in eternity. And both of them are now without suffering. As for me, my suffering is unbearable and I have no clue how to put my life back together again. Without the routine of a job and the structure that that kind of thing imposes on your life, I have nothing but time to dwell on all of it. I have been a caregiver of one kind or another for most of my life. Now there is no one to care for. And truthfully, I don't want to do it anymore...a suggestion people have made to me since he passed away. Friends tell me it’s finally time to take care of me, but that is not a message I’m able to hear right now. I so appreciate having the opportunity to write this here. It is the first time I have given a voice to what I have felt. Thank you so much for allowing me to say what I needed to say.

Comments for The irony was too cruel. He was walking more steps, without fear of falling and the physical therapists said he was doing so much better.

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Apr 16, 2013
for anonymous
by: Luci

Thank you so much for your post. Sometimes I come here and I am heartened by the kindness and support of strangers...and I am grateful. At other times, I cannot make myself come here, because the pain can still be so raw.

I wish for you the courage to embrace all the very difficult elements of the grieving process and as much support as you can possibly find. Friends mean well but don't always know what to say or how to say it...sometimes, they're afraid to call for that reason. Call them. Let them know that you're alive and that you need their support now more than ever.

Take care and God bless.

Apr 14, 2013
For Luci
by: Anonymous

Thanks Luci for your kind words. I had given up finding support in the real word and unfortunately came across mostly people insensitive to my loss & grief. I feel there are greater chances for finding more support here, online. I am thankful for the same.

I continue to have nightmares when I think of the last few painful days for my father. He was a true gentleman who worked hard all his life but could not enjoy a peaceful retired living. I do hope and pray you will find your comfort zone and will be able to cope better in your new 'normal'

Apr 13, 2013
for Sunil
by: Luci

Thank you for your kind words. Anniversary dates are horrific to endure and I just went thru my first just as you have. Losing a parent is like no other loss. You can have a spouse or spouses, siblings, other relatives, friends. But we all only have one set of parents, and when we go, regardless of what age we are when they leave us, we are ultimately orphaned...and it doesn't feel good.

I just began a closed bereavement group and had my first meeting. I resisted going but finally gave in and it is something I would recommend for you if you haven't done it. I also think there are wonderful resources on this website that you can avail yourself of. Try to get as much support as you can. I am without family and my friends are scattered, but most people are not in that situation. Lean on those who love you and who love you and do it as often as it takes for you to start to feel more "normal" even though we all know normal will never mean the same thing to us again.

God bless you and keep you in his care.

Apr 13, 2013
For Jim
by: Luci

I'm so very sorry for your loss, Jim. Everything is far too fresh for you to even comprehend what has happened. Lean on family and friends and get support from every avenue available to you. This website is full of wonderful resources...but it may be too soon to take advantage of those right now.

God bless you and keep you in His care.

Apr 12, 2013
April 11,2013
by: Anonymous

April 11, daddy just passed away today with nearly the same set of circumstances, almost right down to the last detail.

I miss him so much.


Apr 11, 2013
Re: sorry
by: Sunil

Hi sorry to hear. Cruel indeed. I lost my father too on April 11 2012...exactly an year back. He was suffering from cancer and the end was accelerated due to the urinary infection spreading rapidly. I am truly lost without him and badly miss him. I am now without my best friendly, my go to person for most things. Its so unfortunately loosing ones dad. I feel sorry for you and can somewhat understand your pain. If you know of any techniques that help you cope, please share..

Apr 10, 2013
For Doreen in the UK
by: by Luci

Hello Doreen,
Thank you so much for your kind note. I’m so sorry for your loss. I completely understand your having to take care of things and sort them out, etc. but I think however long it takes for you to feel “OK” about getting this herculean task done is perfectly fine. You only have your own timetable to follow. I agree with you that women are the nurturers of the species and always put themselves last. And when a parent dies, in my experience, it doesn’t matter how many siblings there are;the heaviest, most constant responsibilities fall to the women most of the time.I do have a church that I go to and I do some volunteer work there, and I do get some measure of comfort from church friends. Unfortunately, that doesn’t take a lot of time and then I have the rest of the week to contend with. I am disabled and although I am able enough to be productive, I cannot hold a typical job. People have told me I should be a “caregiver” (I could earn perhaps minimum wage doing so)but are clueless to the fact that I've been a caregiver of sorts my entire life. I’m done with it. Doing it for people I dearly loved was difficult and draining. Doing it for strangers is not even an option. My friends are scattered everywhere and the one sibling I do have is in an assisted living facility and we are not close. Without the 8 hours a day that a job occupies for most people, there is entirely too much “unstructured” time on my hands and I know that you get that. With no children to check in on or grandkids to spoil, it is quite a lonely life. I agree with you that human beings were meant to be in relationships but unfortunately, I have never felt so isolated and abandoned in my life. After a lot of coaxing, I am going to begin attending a bereavement group that is meant strictly for people who have lost a parent later this week. Ironically, the first meeting is the first anniversary of my dad’s passing. Maybe after you get all the sorting done, Doreen, perhaps you can take some real time and give some thought to what you would like to do that maybe you’ve never done before. Maybe it’s painting…or doing needlepoint or knitting,or writing a short story or poetry, or a book if it’s not too daunting. Maybe making and selling your favorite jam/cookies/bread. Something JUST for you that has nothing to do with anyone else…something that resonates well with you. The good news is if you do find something that appeals to you for a while, you can do that. If and when you tire of it, there’s no “penalty” for giving it up and starting on something else. Maybe juggling a bunch of “projects”is the way to fill your time in ways that are somewhat productive, but most importantly, enjoyable.Thanks again for your note, Doreen. Hope to see you here soon. Take good care of yourself.

Apr 02, 2013
Message for Pat in MO
by: Luci

Hello Pat,

Thank you so very much for your heartwarming comment. I am so very sorry for your loss, and indeed, there are many parallels to our stories.

I don't do Facebook but if you'd like to contact me I am at

Hoping you see this message and that you are doing better the day you do read it!

Apr 02, 2013
The irony was too cruel. He was walking more steps, without fear of falling and the physical therapists said he was doing so much better.
by: Doreen U.K.

Luci I am sorry for your loss of both parents and for the turmoil you are still in over the loss of your father a year ago.
I lost my husband of 44yrs. 11 months ago to cancer and I was his caregiver for over 3yrs. while he died a slow painful death.
I know what you mean when you say you don't want to be the caregiver anymore. After a death we all get lost for a while whilst we are contemplating what to do with "ME". As a woman we focus on everyone but ourselves and we wouldn't have it any other way. BUT. There comes a time when we have to focus on ourselves to get US through this complex life. There is nothing worse than being on OUR OWN. God created us for being in RELATIONSHIP. That is how we function. We weren't meant to live in isolation. Nothing grows in the dark, or without proper care. It is hard not knowing where to start to put what is left of our lives together again. We were always part of someone's life. Then to suddenly be plunged into having no one is devastating. WHO WANTS THIS. It is something that happened TO US. We didn't make it happen.
I don't know how you feel about CHURCH?. But this may be a good starting place to meet people and be part of a Spiritual Family. It is also a good starting place to meet people and form new friendships. If you are not persuaded here you can go to a tavern or club or a grief group or just somewhere to get you out of the house and back into LIFE. Otherwise you will get into a rut and not want to go out at all. You can do VOLUNTARY WORK as a way of finding your way back into the WORKFORCE. You may even develop skills that will help you choose another job. These are just some suggestions to get you circulating with people again. You won't know what you can do till you make just small steps and build on this. I know it isn't easy as I have to think about doing the same thing. I am retired so I don't have a job. But if I was in good health I would do voluntary work again. I did this in Mental Health for 8yrs. Best 8yrs. of my life. I was younger then. At the moment I have to do the house repairs, painting, and sort out all my husband's garage, and his log cabin, and personal belongings. This is the last job. Can't do this yet. It is too early. I am trying to see this work as a challenge. It will all get done a little at a time. I have to motivate myself. I watch the TV Channels that do up houses and gardens and pressure wash the patio and that gets me going. Something may spur you on. But don't do anything you don't feel like doing. I just find that work is the best way to stop depression setting in. I have to have a FOCUS to go on living otherwise I wouldn't be able to go on each day. Thank you for sharing your story. Please come back and let us know how life is for you, even if nothing is happening. We all need to stay in touch till we can move forward in time.

Apr 02, 2013
Dear Luci,
by: Pat in Missouri

I am so struck by your story. It is so similar to mine. My fiance' died of sepsis in Sept., 2011. We did not have the lifetime committment that a father and daughter have, but we were close for about 7 years. Just prior to his death, my father and my brother also died in the same year. My mother passed in 2009. It has been too much all at once. The family members I mention were in another state and all passed without me there. But, my Frank (my fiance') went through all the same stuff you did with your father and I saw it all, except for his final breath. He struggled with the sepsis for 10 weeks, was on a ventilator twice, had 2 heart attacks in the hospital, was on dialysis, and had tubes in every oriface of his body. He finally got well enough to leave the hospital and go to a rehab facility to help him rebuild his strength. Sounds just like your father. Frank only lasted 9 days there. He was never able to stand for more than 45 seconds. I think his heart just gave out. The nurses found him unresponsive and sent him to the local hospital right away. When they called me, I was there in about 20 mins., but he was gone. I sat with him for about 3 hours until his body got cold. A couple of friends came to be with me. The nurses finally kicked us out.

Like you, I was married many years ago, but had no children and have been divorced for 30+ years. I have 1 sister in CA. and 1 brother in CO., but no one where I am near Kansas City, MO. I am caring for Frank's dog. He is such a comfort. I, like you, am the caregiving type. I have no one left to care for, but my 2 dogs and me. And I am not ready to hear that anymore than you are.

After my father passed, my remaining siblings and I met in Colorado (where my parents spent most of their happy years--65 of them) to scatter their ashes together. That was their final request. We went to a mountain top and scattered Mom's ashes with Dad's across beautiful land near a lake overlooking another mountain. They wanted no burials and no stones. I think they would have approved of what we did. My father, like your father, never adjusted after my mother passed. He always said (meaning my mother), "The worst thing she ever did was to die on me and leave me alone." I can totally understand that feeling because I have lost Mom, Dad, brother, and Frank. I am alone too and it feels very alone. I assume you are retired, since you said you are not working. I am also retired and have too much time to think and mourn. We ought to get together!!! If I had your email address, I would contact you directly. I have just posted a message for you on the Facebook page, heartache to healing. If you wish, contact me there. Maybe we can connect there. Take care, Luci. I know your pain. Pat

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