“Books are like seeds. They can lie dormant for centuries and then flower in the most unpromising soil.” (Carl Sagan); “Nothing ever dies on the Internet.” (anon.); “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” (Madison Ave. [m]adman). My posts amalgamate these three philosophical elements into one novel experience; they champion critical thinking, human dignity / equality, levelheaded / even-handed / liberty-based governance and solid environmental stewardship. C’mon in!
The fire breathing dragon doth exist; inhabits the incendiary overlord who re-
heats empty talking points via inflammatory oratory. Such fiery screeds doth
little more than burn up the clock. With far more burning issues on the back-
burner, neither he nor his subjects will be able to keep the home fires burning.
As Part 2 of this series concluded, we stood together at rainbow’s end while I spoke of that full spectral arc… believed it to be Divine Intervention… God’s validation of my Mom’s decision to “no code” her husband… free my Dad from his hospital ICU torture chamber… permit this terminally ill man the death our false hopes had denied him.
I now welcome you to Part 3. This installment has four subheadings titled:
A Time of Transition… A Time to Die… A Sliver of Sunlight…A Time to Reflect.
I’ve linked two of my companion blogs to this one… and… unless you’ve already read them… I strongly recommend you follow these links as they appear… I believe the depth they add to this posting to be immeasurable.
A Time of Transition…
On the eve prior to my Dad’s ill-fated surgery, the last words he’d ever spoken to me were… “Keep the home fires burning.” Ergo, from 1988 through 2003, I was caregiver to Mom… caretaker of her property… thereby allowing her to remain in her home sweet home for her final fifteen years.
During that time, Mom and I had oft regretted how Dad’s “full code” hospital status” had condemned him to “living” a zombie-like existence. No matter how many times we had rehashed this… each and every time we’d wind up looking each other squarely in the eye to solemnly vow we’d never do that to each other.
I was so glad we had had those frank discussions; too… for it was in early 2003… after Mom had fractured her femur and was convalescing in a nursing home… when pneumonia’s deadly chokehold would not permit her to rally.
With all reasonable, medical treatment options exhausted… with Mom’s quality of life steadily worsening with each passing second and her chances for recovery near zero… there I was… staring down at that nursing home “full code” / “no code” form.
Mere days earlier, a Judge had appointed me to be my Mom’s legal guardian and so her fate now rested in my hands. It would’ve been far too easy to feel the same false hopes for my Mom (the same type of false hopes Mom and I had felt for my Dad). But, I simply could not ignore Mom’s voice echoing in my memory… could not turn a deaf ear to her past impassioned pleas… “Please don’t EVER let that happen to me!”
While I hated “no coding” my own Mother… I hated the thought of her suffering even more. Choking back my tears… I signed on the dotted line and handed her fate off to God. After all… even if I had made the wrong decision… He could always intervene to let her recover and continue to live.
A Time to Die…
My showing my Mom mercy had spared her untold misery and she had died a pain free, dignified death. The final chapter of her life can be read in my posting: Going Home… Going Home…
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of On Death and Dying, once described it thusly:
“Watching a peaceable death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of the million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.”
Six days after Mom had gone to her Heavenly home, I presided over her Memorial Service. Having pasted on my bravest, public face, I had somehow managed to tearlessly deliver her heartfelt eulogy to a larger than expected gathering of mourners and well-wishers… a fifteen minute summation of her near ninety year long life and times.
With nothing else left for ME to do for my Mom… it was now time for ME to go home… to consider what I’d be doing for ME… in whatever time remained for ME on Earth. And after thirty years of helping my folks… how odd it felt to be prioritizing ME at the top of my to-do list.
A Sliver of Sunlight…
On the one-year anniversary of my Mom’s death, I began what was to become my annual ritual to honor her and keep her memory alive. My honoring her request that she be buried in her family plot in Minnesota, had meant I’d be paying my respects from afar… in two special, serene locales within my Michigan, hometown’s city limits.
It was seven years into my newfound family tradition, when something magical happened… my third “Oh Wow” moment… a jaw dropping, astounding, meteorological event which I could not interpret to be anything other than Divine Intervention. I tell more about my experience in my posting: A Sliver of Sunlight
A Time to Reflect…
So here I am in the here and now of 2016. I certainly intend to keep my eyes wide-open to see if any other episodes of Divine Intervention will come my way. Since, so far, they’ve all been weather related… I know my gaze should focus skyward… and since I’ll be already looking up… I’ll be certain to thank our Creator for having never let me down.
Of course there is that “Good things come in threes” adage so… might I have already maxed out my Divine Intervention limit? If that’s the case… then this makes those I’ve already experienced all the more precious. For sure, I’ll treasure these special days and events for the rest of my mortal life… and throughout eternity…
November 9, 1973 ~ The sunbeams breaking through the wintry cloud deck after I had narrowly avoided a fatal head on crash with a semi on that iced over, US-23 overpass. I believe God had spared me so I could carry on till tomorrow… live on through three more decades worth of tomorrows… just to be there to help my folks when they had needed me the most.
November 1, 1988 ~ The rainbow, which told Mom and me that my terminally ill Dad’s storm was finally coming to an end… had assured us both that only death could bring his agony to an end.
April 16, 2011 ~ The sunbeams, which had acted as a Heaven to Earth conduit… streaming my Mother’s love, eternal, upon me. After an eight-year long silence… it had sure felt so good to “hear” my Mom, once again, “say”, “I Love You!”.
In Part 1, I mentioned how my brush with death on an icy freeway overpass had been a stop and think about “IT” moment in my life… that I’ve experienced “IT” a few other times… that each time “IT” had hit me… I did get that jaw dropping, “Oh Wow”, feeling of awe.
I also claimed that “IT” has further strengthened my already rock solid faith in God… that “IT” had happened because He still had more important work for me to do on Earth. And last but not least, I made a promise to tell you all about “IT”. Now, being a man who’s true to his word, welcome to Part 2!
To be sure here… “IT” is a rather inelegant way of talking about “IT”… that “IT” being none other than Divine Intervention. Hmm… maybe I should abbreviate “IT”? Sure… why not… let’s use the acronym, “DI”.
The DI I’ll be blogging about on this day took place just as the final paragraphs of my Dad’s bio were getting written. But… let’s first flip back a few pages… just to get you, my readers, on the same page with me.
Dad’s Life Story ~ By the time the dog days of summer, 1988, had arrived, the consequences from a lifetime’s worth of poor lifestyle choices had begun to dog him. Tobacco and a diet loaded with sodium and saturated fats had resulted in obesity, hypertension, heart trouble, diabetes and cancer.
Dad’s internist had advised him to do something before it was too late… but my father waited and waited… until it was too late. His need for an ambulance trip to the hospital certainly underscored his “too late” status.
It was after modern medical miracles had stabilized Dad’s heart issues when his doctor finally convinced him to surgically address his other problems, too.
I had visited Dad 12 hours prior to his operation. Although we both skirted the issue… opting, instead, for some pleasant small talk… we could both see the fear in each others eyes. We shared the unspoken dread that, come morning, things would not be going well. Dad’s parting words that night, “Keep the home fires burning.” I assured him I would.
Our worst fears had been confirmed in the OR… Dad’s cancer had become a raging, rampaging, homicidal, suicidal beast. Since he had intentionally left his “advanced directives” form blank, i.e., had not told what his wishes were in the event something went wrong, by default his status was “full code”… which meant he wanted doctors to do everything medically possible to keep him alive.
And something DID go wrong… everything went wrong!
The surgical team had to resort to heroics just to keep him from dying on the operating table… even though his chances for recovery were near absolute zero.
For six, long, agonizing weeks Dad laid in a quasi-living, Hellish limbo, while his doctor made repeated attempts to convince Mom, this was all to no avail. As the doctor’s frustration mounted, he even said, point blank, “This is like beating on a dead horse!” But, she just didn’t have the heart to… to put this crudely… “pull the plug”.
On November 1, 1988, Mom and I had one more confab with Dad’s doctor, where she had asked him… no… from the tone in her voice I could hear it more as her desperate plea… “Is there any chance you can save my husband’s life?” He simply nodded no.
Well, at that moment… Mom had seen the light… and as a result of her changing her husband over to “no code”, Dad had finally been liberated from his torture chamber ICU. At long last he would get the opportunity to “see the light”… albeit in a different sense…
Whether Dad would live or die was now up to God to decide.
Mom and I passed through the hospital exits in silence. Our slow walk to the parking lot was amidst a misty rain. Just as I was unlocking and holding the car door open for her, Mom turned to me to ask, “Did I just do the right thing?” At that moment the sun broke through the storm clouds and a rainbow appeared!”
To answer her, all I had to do is point upward and say, “Would you look at that!”
Well, as we all know, rainbows usually signify the end to our storms. To be sure… Dad’s post-op experience had been the medical equivalent of an F-10 tempest. But did this rainbow mean he’d be making a miraculous recovery or…
On the drive home, Mom and I had both been stunned into silence by the sudden appearance of that rainbow. As I drove, I recalled one of her favorite stories, one she had told me many times… one that I had never grown tired of hearing…
In her home state of Minnesota, there had been torrential rains for the entire week leading up to her Wedding Day in 1948. Then just as she and Dad had said, “I do” the clouds broke, and sunbeams lit up the entire church.
As we pulled up into the driveway, we both agreed we were physically and emotionally exhausted. Our number one priority was to get some much-needed sleep. We also made our plans to return to the hospital, early the very next morning… but…
Just as we were heading out the door… the phone rang. It being only 6:30 a.m… we knew this could only mean bad news. The disembodied voice informed us that it was too late… Dad had died… died alone.
I’m including the Mike + The Mechanics video “Living Years” even though the story told by lyricists Mike Rutherford and B.A. Robertson is not a “perfect fit” to all elements of my own story. The lyrics, which resonate with me the most are as follows…
I wasn’t there that morning… when my father passed away,
Didn’t get to tell him… All the things I had to say.
To be sure… nobody should ever die alone… and, for not being there… I do feel I had let my father down. The very last thing he had ever said to me turned out to be, “Keep the home fires burning!” And I would not let him down in that regard… that I had solemnly vowed.
So… while I regain my composure… let’s adjourn for about five minutes to give a listen to “Living Years”. Scroll down to meet me at song’s end… for my parting thoughts…
While we were listening… a thought did come to mind… and I’ll bet some of you also thought along these same lines…
Don’t postpone that long overdue visit and/or phone chat with your parents… do that soon… before it’s too late.
Now… to wrap up my story…
I realize that a doubting Thomas or secularist would dispute my claim that the rainbow, which Mom and I had seen, had any significance at all… let alone it being Divine Intervention. Such naysayers would merely chalk it all up to “total coincidence”.
OK, it’s true… God had not actually cured my Dad of all his ills. On that technicality… I’ll cede the skeptics a bit of ground. But it’s in the realm of the intangible where He worked His miracle. He had slightly eased both Mom’s and my own anguish over the decision to go “no code” re my Dad.
Consider that rainbow, too… the perfect timing of it all… had Mom and I delayed exiting the Hospital by even one minute, we would’ve entirely missed seeing that short-lived meteorological event. Think about the similarity of how the sun had come out at just the right time on her Wedding Day. “Till death do us part” is part of those vows… and this 40 year later similar weather pattern appeared to be ushering in that impending, “till death do us part” moment for this husband / wife couple.
All of this transcends happenstance, which does bring us back full circle to Divine Intervention.
For sure I know it further strengthened my Mom’s rock solid faith in God…
For sure I know it further strengthened my my own rock solid faith in God…
The Good Lord willing… I shall share with you one last experience I’ve had with Divine Intervention… in the days ahead… stay tuned…