Aside from a lot of dumb stuff, I haven’t been posting a lot the last several weeks. I’ve had a lot on my mind, and even some posts written and not used, but I haven’t posted any of them because something bigger has been happening in my life.
My Dad died.
My whole life, my dad ran his own construction business. He worked hard almost everyday to support his family. On March 18th when I received a text from him saying he was out of money because he couldn’t work anymore and wanted to know if he should start a Go Fund Me page, I knew my life was never going to be the same again.
Only a couple of weeks earlier he was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer. This was a huge shock, but unfortunately not a huge surprise. He smoked his whole life. Starting as a young child, my dad always smoked. He tried to quit so many times, but he never could.
Lydia and I made the decision to move our family in with my parents so we could take care of day to day finances while my mom and dad focused on getting him through the cancer.
The cancer caused his lungs to fill with fluid, which led to the sack around his heart to fill with fluid. The doctors did some surgeries to drain the liquid, but that caused his heart to have some issues. He had an arrhythmia which unfortunately lead to his heart pumping blood clots into his brain. This is where the real trouble began.
A day or two after Lydia and I had spent our first night at my parents’ house, my dad was let out of the hospital. He had been in for several days to get the fluid around his heart under control. He came home right after we laid our kids down for a nap. Lydia and I went to our old house to grab some more stuff and we got a call from my mom.
My dad was having a stoke.
We got there in time to help before the ambulance took him back to the hospital. He was only home for a couple hours. The boys were still asleep and didn’t even get to see him.
Over the course of a few weeks, my dad had several more TIAs (mini stokes) and was in and out of the hospital. As he got worse, my mom started to stay over night with him in the hospital.
On Thursday, April 26th my mom called me early in the morning in a panic. I raced to the hospital and canceled all my obligations that day. She was in a panic because the doctor had harshly told her that my dad only had a year left to live at the most, and had pressured her to make some serious decisions that she didn’t want to make.
My whole family spent that day in the hospital and we had several important conversations with my dad. We decided what kind of care he wanted from then on and made sure that mom wouldn’t be in a situation where she had to make a decision about my dad’s life again.
It’s a good thing that we had those conversations on Thursday, because on Saturday morning we were told he wasn’t going to make it more than a few more days.
Lydia and I needed to be out of our old house that weekend, so the first thing we did was run to the old house and finish cleaning. I figured that if we could get that out of the way quickly, we would be able to focus on being with my dad his last few hours and days. Several women from our church showed up and helped clean. Because of their love we were able to finish up in a couple hours and get to the hospital.
So many people showed up to show their love and say goodbye to dad. Evie, Jack and Penny, my sister’s kids, came in and got to see him and hug him. Lydia took a beautiful picture of my dad smiling at them.
My boys were being watched by a friend of ours. Lydia and I went to get them after spending a few hours with my dad, but by the time we got back he was having a seizure and we didn’t want them to see him like that. He never fully came out of that seizure.
My biggest regret is that I didn’t get my boys earlier. The last time they saw their papa was several days earlier as he was being wheeled into an ambulance. He waved at them as they jumped and waved at him from the balcony. They never got to hug him or kiss him. He never got to say goodbye to them.
My sisters, their husbands, my mom and my wife sat in the hospital with dad until 2 in the morning. We laughed and cried as we told stories about dad and how much he loved his family, how much he loved God and how he always worked to take care of us and to share God’s love with everyone around him.
He finally stopped breathing at 7am Sunday April 29th, 2018. My mom watched as he took his last breath and saw his pulse stop moments later.
My dad was the sweetest, kindest man you would ever meet. looking back through old pictures I saw a pattern. He smiled one way in most of the pictures, but he smiled a different, more loving smile in the photos he was with his wife, kids or grand kids. He truly loved his family.
He loved God so much. He told us that he had done everything God told him to do. He wasn’t ready to die, but he knew there wasn’t anything left that God had told him to get done.
He once read me Proverbs 22:6. He explained that the verse doesn’t say to train up your own child, just to train up a child. He built his life on that verse and dedicated it to bringing children into the church and showing them the love of God. He knew that Jesus loved the little children, so he loved them too.
He also loved his wife. While in the hospital, he was always making sure that she was being taken care of too. About a week before he died, Lydia and I had a conversation with him and my mom about money. We showed them that we would be able to cover all of their bills and wanted to take care of things so he and mom could take care of him. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was really giving him the confidence that we would be able to care for his wife once he was gone.
So many people showed him and us their love though this whole process. People gave my parents thousands of dollars to help them pay bills and get by. Donations even came from people they had never met.
A man my dad had worked with years earlier walked into the hospital room hours before he died, even though they hadn’t seen each other in years. He left the hospital and mowed our lawn.
As soon as he died, someone started a meal train and immediately people had volunteered and filled in every available space to cook us dinner for two weeks.
My cousin said the sweetest thing to him the day before he died. She said, “I know that your family is going to be mad at me for saying this, but if it’s your time to go, it’s okay to go.” She told him how much she loved him and how much he meant to her. Then she went to the store and bought Kleenex with lotion so that we wouldn’t have to keep using the cheap kind provided by the hospital.
When everyone but my mom knew that he was going to die that night, an amazing nurse gently told her that he wasn’t going to come out of it. She said the tough thing that none of us wanted to say, but she said it in a loving, reassuring way that I will always be grateful for.
Thank you to everyone who reached out to me specifically. Several people called or text after he died. Two friends called to pray with me his last night at the hospital. My boss gave me so many days off work and provided pizza as we sat in the hospital. I received cards from friends and acquaintances and a card from my old work, theDove signed by everyone who I had worked with there.
My dad and his family are so loved by the people around us. I can’t say enough about everyone who showed their love in so many ways. Countless people fixed things, gave money, cooked meals, set up and tore down at the memorial, and even drove or flew long distances just to be with us and to show they cared.
William David Douglas is going to be missed.