This has been a tough year. About this time last year, Mom was finally starting to get better after having been in and out of the hospital. During the time she was ill, I had noticed that the right side of Dad's face was a little droopy and his eye wouldn't close all the way when he blinked. Mom took him to the doctor and they diagnosed him with Bells palsy. Unfortunately, that initial diagnosis was incorrect and it wasn't until the ophthalmologist referred him to ENT that they discovered he had a cancerous tumor in his parotid gland. Due to Dad's poor health he was never a candidate for surgery or chemo. So, they tried radiation therapy. Sadly, the cancer returned and Dad's care was turned over to Hospice.
Most of the time, Dad is relatively comfortable and is still able to take care of his basic physical needs. The Hospice services give Mom added support and a nurse makes weekly visits to monitor Dad's health. We do not know how much longer we will have him with us; but, we cherish each week that he remains. I hate to see him in such pain; and, watching the cancerous tumor ravage his body makes us all feel very helpless. He isn't able to read because the tumor makes it impossible to wear his glasses. That also makes it impossible for him to carve. Television makes him fall asleep, so he spends his time shelling pecans. Leslie sent out a request to the members of the ward and they have kept Dad well stocked with pecans. We visit him on a regular basis, help Mom as much as we can, and enjoy the time we have with him.
Luckily, we were able to celebrate one of the most important milestones in their lives.
Yesterday evening, we were able to recognize and honor Mom and Dad's 60th wedding anniversary. My brothers and their wives all attended, as did the Texas grand and great grand-children. Having visits from family cheers Dad and lifts his spirits more than anything else. When family stops by, we see the old familiar wise-cracking man that raised us to be good, honest, hard working adults. We all hope that our lives serve as examples of the valuable life lessons that he has taught us.
I was hesitant to take many pictures of Dad because I didn't know how the relatives living so far away would react to seeing his tumor. But, I couldn't NOT take any. Below are some simple photographs randomly snapped throughout the evening. I was thrilled to see that everyone's face was filled with happiness and gratitude for this gift of spending this precious evening with them.