Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sixty Years

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.
Ron and I got together with our kids to clean up Mom and Dad's workshop so that we could have dinner at home. That way Dad could go inside when he was tired. He managed to spend the entire evening with us. We only caught him napping in his recliner once.
It was great to have the grand and great grand kids there. They don't even seem to notice Dad's tumor. Usually, kids are so blunt! I guess my grands have just gotten used to seeing him the way he is.
Everyone loved seeing Mom's quilts hanging on the walls. She has made so many that she has lost track of them! I hope someday I can catch up with her!
We used the catering service of Rudy's BBQ. Their food was delicious; but, of course Mom had to make extra because she was afraid we wouldn't have enough food.
There was plenty of room in the shop and it was easy for family to take the opportunity to visit with one another.  We were so thankful for Bob's wife, Kathy. She brought anniversary decorations to make it even more special.
During the meal, Dad suggest we go next door and ask their neighbor, Julia to join us. Her husband was recently admitted to the VA nursing center for long term care. She was so appreciative of being included. Her children all live out of town and she is probably pretty lonely.
The grandkids loved having some cousins and new friends to meet and hang out with.
Leslie was especially emotional. She had lost one of her patients today. A little baby about the age of 8 months that she had been working on swallowing with. It was a pretty emotional day for her.
My brother, Bob, had also recently suffered a stroke. He was wearing a patch over one eye because his vision is still not clear. What a roller coaster of emotions we all felt!
The cute little red-heads are the twin daughters of Ryan's girlfriend, Jaimie. They are simply adorable!
We got to meet her and the girls for the first time this evening. It was a pleasant surprise! I had a feeling he would bring them because the only person that Ryan had talked to about them was my Dad. It's wonderful how close he has grown to his grandfather.
We are so lucky the weather was pleasant. That was the one worry Mom seemed to have, so I'm glad it turned out to be so nice. My sister-in-law, Kathy Jane said it feels like summer in Kentucky!
I'm so thankful for these three sweethearts! Between the three of them, they cleaned, decorated, set up food, served, and cleared away everything. They are wonderful!
Kathy Lee brought a beautiful cake to celebrate. I'm so glad she did! As soon as Dad finished his meal, he started asking for dessert!
Dad was so silly when he saw the recliner sitting in the corner. He asked where it had come from. We had moved it from their porch and I guess he didn't recognize it.
Thankfully, it made it so much more comfortable for him to spend the evening with us.
The evening was filled with random pictures, laughter, hugs, and smiles.  Enjoy the event vicariously through the remaining pictures.

1 comment:

Rachel Holloway said...

Oh Gwen, I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. I know how much family means to you, and how close you are! What a wonderful celebration of 60 years! It looks like it was a great time together.