My painting of The Peach Orchard where Union and Confederates fought on the 2nd day of the Battle of Gettysburg
I am writing this three weeks from having to come home suddenly because of my Dad’s stroke. I flew out of Baltimore (leaving Gettysburg) the evening of August 6th and got to my Mom and Dad’s house around midnight. My husband and sweet girls were not able to fly home with me and had to drive back from Pennsylvania. In the early part of August 7th we were contacted by my sister to get to the hospital. The ER nurse told her that it was looking bad. Daddy’s kidneys had shut down and the doctors were not able to get the whole clot that had travelled to the right side of his brain. There was nothing left for them to do. We girls were all there. Present in moments that were thick and painful. But even there I could feel love. We were given people that were standing with us during those final moments. We each felt deep love for dad and from dad. Even though he couldn’t talk and wasn’t conscious. In fact, once we decided to not prolong his life on the machines (we would have to sign papers and then the nurse would come in and pull the tubes and supports from his body) it was as if Dad agreed with us. His breathing became so shallow and his blood pressure got lower and lower. All we had done was agree to let him go. I think Dad was so ready. He was still tethered to that weary body. One that had suffered with a great deal of pain with cluster headaches for 20 years. I believe the Lord was opening the door and dad was passing through it.
After the nurse came in and did take away his tubes and machines he looked so peaceful and handsome. It took maybe two minutes for him to stop breathing. It was so fast. I knew I was looking at a body. Not my dad but very much my dad at the same time. His soft hands and his feet. The way he clipped his beard so carefully and cleanly. This was the casing I had loved so long but that energy and spirit was not with us. There was no way to call him back through the door.
I don’t have the strength to share all that happened. Maybe one day I will. But I can share that he was surrounded by love as we were (and still are). I can also share that these past three weeks have been so long. It feels like a lifetime ago that I was in Gettysburg…. (continue reading)