I can honestly say that this year didn’t start off very well for me and my family. On December 30, 2003 my father Reed Irvine suffered a massive stroke while eating dinner. We ended 2003 on a pretty low note and by the time the new year rolled around we still weren’t sure what we were looking at. In January of 2003 my father suffered a heart attack that the doctors said could have easily killed him and yet a few days later he was back in the office and playing tennis. So for us, another miracle was always possible.
As the days went by, though I quickly realized that the chances of a full recovery were pretty slim. The damage from the stroke was severe. He lost the use of his left arm and his left leg was weak, he couldn’t swallow and needed a tracheotomy. He learned to “speak” with the trach, yet it wasn’t easy. Eventually he would get well enough to remove the trach, but I didn’t see any real progress in his speech. He still needed his stomach tube for feeding and some oxygen for breathing.
Day after day passed, he had many visitors and we celebrated his birthday and anniversary in the nursing home. I think he knew what was going on, but I can’t be sure. Then in late October another change. My father was in distress and had to be rushed to the hospital. After spending about a week there, the doctor told me it would be best to move him to a hospice. What a blow! I knew my father was not well, but that he was near to death? He was moved to the Casey House and spent 12 days there until he passed away on November 16th.
I look back at those last two weeks and realize what a great blessing it was. He was no longer on medication, his tube feedings were stopped because they were doing him more harm than good. For the first time in months he was alert and speaking understandable words and sentences. He even had a phone conversation with my daughter who was away at college. A true miracle. The end was peaceful and swift. My mother and I were there and while there was great sadness, there was also joy that my father was freed from a body that had trapped him for 10 ? months. At the funeral I came to realize how many lives my father touched and was grateful for having been able to have him as long as I did. Some people say it is hard to work with a parent. For me it was a privilege.
So while this started off as a down year it finishes with many positives. My daughter graduated from high school, we moved to a new house after 19 years of marriage and I now have my mother living with my family. After all these changes in my life, next year should be a breeze.