Monday, September 14, 2015

Daily Journal: Dads Car Accident and Funeral

8/28 Friday: My 88 year old father, was in a car accident this past Wednesday morning on August 26. He was turning left into a parking lot (not at a traffic light), while another car was going straight, and they collided. The other car hit dad's car on the right, passenger side. Dad says he(himself) wasn't wearing a seat belt. The police records show that it was dad's fault. Dad was alone, and actually he hasn't allowed anyone to ride with him for awhile now because he knew he wasn't safe, though he wasn't willing to give up his independence that came from driving, just yet. Dad was taken to the ER where they found he had a collapsed lung and a broken rib. He's still there now, though his lung is almost all the way better.

8/30 Sunday: Charles was able to talk with him on Saturday, but Saturday he was not doing well mentally and we could barely hear what he said, and none of it really made sense. He's also been reverting to full-on spanish, even when we ask him to speak in English...sometimes he'll say a few words in english but then switch back, like he can't remember how. His dementia seems to be even worse now, and besides thinking the doctors and nurses are trying to kill him with whatever they're putting in him through the IVs (which he's ripped out a couple of times), he's also repeating phrases over and over again like, "I need air" and "my sleeve".

Elisabeth was able to talk with him today, Sunday morning and he was doing a bit better. He could focus on the conversation for a few seconds before he started rambling and talking as if he was dazed. When he did focus, she told him she'd like to play him a song on the piano, which she does fairly often anyway (so does Charles), and she played one of his favorite hymns, "I believe in Christ". I sang for part of it until my voice failed me when the words touched my heart. I wasn't sure if he would recognize the song, but he began to cry and he said thank you.

 Dad's on medicine right now for pain, and he also takes something at night to help with the dementia (it was at night when he pulled out his IVs and seems to get worse). He can't walk more than one step with a walker, where as before, he could walk around with his cane everywhere, even up and down stairs though slowly, and it looked painful, but he could do it. He also can't sit up on his own right now and sometimes he asks for help to lift a glass of water to his lips. Mom's planning on having him go to a rehabilitation center for about a month after he gets out of the hospital so that he has 24 hour care and she's hoping he'll learn to become independent again. Doctors are feeling optimistic.

9/2 Wednesday: Things have changed. Becca and I flew in Monday night 8/31, Becca from ID (she moved there last week) and me from UT because I got a text from Pepa saying she didn't think he was going to make it and we felt it was true(we'd been praying ever since the accident, to know when we should go and we received confirmation that night), even though the doctors thought he was improving. We stayed the night in the hospital with dad, though we didn't sleep because dad didn't sleep. He was pleasant for the first couple of hours and kept offering us food etc, "Elisa, eat! There's plenty of food! Go in the kitchen!" (I got there around midnight), but when the nurses came in to change his bed pads and they had to roll him on his side and move him up higher on the bed, it was really painful for dad and he got very upset and said they were cruel to do this and how could they treat him like this and how could Becca and I allow it. So from then on he was mad at us and everyone and was very vocal about it. He kept trying to rip off his cords, get out of bed and go home. But he's so weak he really couldn't move so he'd very slowly take off part of his gown and try and move his legs to the side of the bed, but that's where his strength failed him. Monday night, was the last night he was really able to communicate so we're grateful we got there in time.

On Tuesday morning, Sept 1, they also discovered dad has a puncture hole in his lung so it's been filling up with fluids and he can't eat anything without having them go back in with a tube and get it out of his lung, which is where it's going. Pneumonia developed in the other lung. His oxygen is low, even with the mask and his heart rate is high. They moved him to the intensive care unit Tuesday morning. He's not doing well and he doesn't want to make it. 

Dad has been wanting his oxygen off since he got to the hospital and now that we know he's not going to get better, we decided as a family, to honor his request and allow him to breathe on his own til the end, though we did wait until Luis was here, all five of his and moms children, and Michael and Lowell, his children from his second marriage until we removed it, which was by Tuesday night. He mostly slept Tuesday though multiple times, he would wake up and open his eyes, looking up at what seemed to be where the wall met the ceiling. And then in Spanish he would say, quietly, that he didn't know who that was. He smiled and waved at whoever he was seeing and I then asked him what he saw and he would say 'muchisimas gente' (a lot of people), and then in English he added, 'millions'. 

Now he's heavily sedated and mostly unresponsive, though he'll occasionally nod his head when we play a favorite song for him. Mom, luis, Fred, Becca and I have been gathered around him all day (Wednesday), visiting and sharing stories and memories of dad.

9/3 Thursday, Andre arrived this late morning, after being flown by helicopter by the Red Cross from his ship in the middle of the ocean, for the Marines, near California. After he got here and spoke with Dad, they moved Dad to the Hospice center (around 2pm), which is just across the street from the hospital. It's a lot more peaceful and quiet here, and there's a lot more room for the family to gather with a large family meeting area, a kitchen, a much bigger room for dad with a couple of beds for visitors to stay in the room and a recliner, and a large garden area that has a spring running through it and trails throughout the garden which reminds me of some pictures and videos I've seen of Asia. I also like that you don't have doctors and nurses running around everywhere and there isn't a constant beeping of monitors. It's comforting to know that the nurses here are professionals when it comes to hospice/comfort care and so Dad is in good and capable hands.  His four children in Mexico have also called and have been able to talk with dad(or at least, talk 'at' him, since he can't speak), some of whom, made amends for past disagreements and problems.

Dad has had a lot of visitors. A LOT. Mostly family, mexican and american, some friends, and it's pretty constant. He is never left alone. Becca and I slept at the hospital the first two nights(Monday and Tuesday) and mom wanted to sleep alone at the hospice center Wednesday to have some time to herself, so Becca and I  slept at becca's in-laws house which is near by. Tonight Luis wants to sleep alone at the hospice center, so we'll stay at the Romney's again. We did sleep better there last night and it was nice to be able to get a run in, in the morning. Stress reliever.

Dad's breathing is getting more difficult, more labored, and there's a lot more gurgling in his chest. He's mostly out of it all the time now. He gets pain meds about every two hours, and after about an hour and a half, during the day, sometimes if you get up close and talk to him or play him a song he likes, he'll nod his head a bit or try and open his eyes which results in a slight flutter of just one eye and then it shuts again. I found the song he plays for me every year on my birthday, it's spanish, called Las Mananitas. When I played it he looked up at me for a second, and nodded his head. I could tell it pleased him. I told him I promised I would play it for my kids on their birthdays, so they could remember grandpa. It's hard to see him this way, though death is inevitable, for everyone. I'm grateful he's not in pain during this time. We ask him about his pain once he gets responsive again (after about 1 1/2 hours after his last pain med was administered), and usually during the first 15 minutes he shakes his head as if to say 'no' when we ask if he's in pain, but then after another 10-15 minutes, he'll nod when we ask about his pain, and then we call in a nurse to administer more medicine, through an IV.

Tonight I felt drawn to the outdoors, so I slipped out alone and walked through the gardens. Peace and serenity were in my heart. I was drawn to a large tree in the center of one of the garden areas, and with my gaze, I followed it up to the top of the tree which was quite high, and it gradually got thinner, and thinner at the top so that it looked like a pinnacle, pointing up toward the heavens. I had been keeping a prayer in my heart the entire time and when my gaze was drawn upwards I felt a closeness to the Spirit and to the Lord. I felt he was there and listening, waiting for me to share with him my thoughts and feelings, even though he already knew what they were. And so I did. I always try and pray with a "thy will be done" attitude and I really and truly do feel that way, but tonight I asked the Lord, that if possible, he bring my dad home before I had to go back Monday(off and on I was humming and singing "Bring him home" from Les Miserables), if possible, in the next couple of days, because I really wanted to be here for him and with him and with the family when he passed but that if this went on for another week or two (which my brother Luis said sometimes happens, even when they're going without any food, and he works with hospice in NY), I'd need to go home and then come back for the funeral. Also, I explained that it was so hard for us to see him suffer, and because this was inevitable, he's old and done and wants to go and his body is shutting down, that that was another reason for him to bring him home soon. Pouring your heart out, can be very difficult. You feel vulnerable. But all the while, I also felt peace. And all the while, a feeling of love and comfort. I knew He was watching over us and would take care of us. These words don't even come close to what I felt; the amount of love and comfort that I felt from Him, is inexpressible. It's overwhelming, in a wonderful way. 

9/4  This morning Becca and I got up around 630. I sent Luis a text asking how dad was and he said when the nurse came in to reposition him at 530 he had a little more difficulty breathing, struggling a bit more so he had the nurse give more pain meds, but besides that he was mostly the same.  I said okay and let him know we'd be over around 8am. I went for a jog while Becca showered and got ready and during my jog (I run without music or noise), I felt very strongly that he'd be going very soon; today. I quickly ran home and didn't shower, but just threw some clothes on and was quickly getting ready when Becca got a phone call from Luis saying that Dad just passed on. The nurse recorded the death time at 730am (though he passed at 720).  Luis said that his breathing had slowed down so that there was 10 seconds between a breath and then 30 seconds between the next and then a minute and then two minutes and then there was no more. He said he went peacefully, he never opened his eyes, but Luis felt a sense of joy and happiness in the room as he passed. The night before we had family prayer together in the room with dad and prayed that the Lord would take him home so that he wouldn't have to suffer any longer, and that he would be welcomed home by his parents and other loved ones. We were sad and missed dad but at the same time we felt an overwhelming amount of love from our Savior and that dad was well, strong and happy again. Here are a few older pictures of dad.

 Dad and his sister

9/9 The funeral will be tomorrow morning, Thursday, at 10am. We'll have the service at the Bothell church building and then have the graveside service which will be short, but the mariachi band(Jaime promised dad he'd get one) is coming which will be nice, and then we'll go back to the church for the luncheon.

Over this past week, we have felt the love of the Lord through those around us, in the flowers and phone calls, in the meals and visits. The siblings and I have gone through old pictures and reminisced, and we've each gathered a thing or two of dads that we would like to have as a keepsake. Today, at ten, Luis, Mom and I went over to the funeral home. Mom needed to go over financial business and Luis and I were there to dress dad in his white clothing. We had Amanda there helping us, she is one of the funeral directors there. Walking into the room and seeing dad on a gurney in his hospital gown, lifeless, was hard. I had tears in my eyes the whole time we were in there, dressing him. But I was grateful that it was me doing it, me who loves him and would be gentle and tender with the body that he inhabited while here on earth, rather than a stranger. I told him not to worry and that we'd get him looking nice in his white clothes. We had to cut the back of his white collared shirt in order to get it on him, and getting his left arm in his shirt was really difficult and I had to cut the shirt a bit more, because ever since he got shot in that arm back in the 1950s (I think), he hasn't had full range of motion.

Scott and the kids took off from SLC Friday night the fourth, and drove to ID where they stayed the night at Becca and Blake's house (though no one was there). Saturday they finished the drive and met us at Michael's house around 2pm where we had lunch. Once they got into WA, Scott says the car started shaking and a couple lights kept flashing on the dashboard and the power steering kept turning off. We got it to my mom's and then decided to ride with other family members to church Sunday and then take the van in Monday morning, Labor day. Monday morning, Scott and Luis went out to look in the hood and when Scott started the van, a big black cylinder dropped out of the bottom of the van and went rolling down the driveway. It looked important so we called a tow truck who took our van in to the only shop near by that was open on Labor Day. The cylinder was the harmonic balancer. They had to order another one from the east coast and we paid for two-day shipping so that it'd get there by Thursday since we needed to leave Friday morning and they said it'd only take a couple of hours to install (though we were a little nervous about them not getting it done on time, and about how the van would run after they installed it). But another tender mercy happened. Wednesday, Today, we got a call from the shop saying that the company on the East 'accidentally' over-nighted it so we didn't have to pay that extra charge, and that our van was all done and all ready to go! I don't believe in accidents, only in a loving and watchful heavenly father. We picked it up and were able to drive it around and 'test' it before our drive back home Friday...and good thing, because I did have to take it back in later this afternoon because they forgot to screw the top back onto the engine and we didn't have the tool you need to do that.

9/13 The funeral was nice, honoring and celebrating dad's life through a eulogy (by Luis), a talk on the plan of salvation (by Scott) and three musical numbers, two done by the grandchildren (I joined them in one song, "The Miracle"). The words were translated into spanish for those in attendance, and one of the songs was sung in spanish and english. Elisabeth was the pianist and organist which was nice and which I'm sure my dad loved.

 The pallbearers: sons and adult grandsons. From left to right: Kyle, Lowell, Michael, Luis, Fred, Scott, Blake, Andre and Alex.

 The Mariachi band at the cemetery was perfect and set a mood of solemnity and also celebration.
 Mom had several of her siblings come which I'm sure was nice and comforting.

The obituary I wrote for dad:
Luis Garnica-Sandoval, 88, passed away on Friday September 4, 2015. He was living in Bothell with his wife of 45 years, Rojean Garnica. He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
He was born in a farming village in Laladera, Michoacan, Mexico in December of 1926. He was the son of Luis Garnica-Navarrete and Josepha Sandoval-Rios, the youngest of 14 children. He attended school in Zamora and Morelia, Michoacan and worked as a teacher in Mexico. He later worked in restaurant and janitorial businesses, but most importantly, he was a father and a good friend.
He is survived by his wife Rojean Garnica, his 11 children(Lupe, Jose Luis, Esperanza, Maria de los Angeles, Michael, Lowell, Luis, Pepa, Fred, Elisa and Rebecca), many grandchildren and great grandchildren, one sister, and other members of the extended family. As a youth he enjoyed sports, and throughout his life he loved music, nature and visiting with others. He will be remembered for his amazing Mexican food, his sense of humor and his loving kindness to family and friends.


Nisa said...

So many details you'll always be grateful you wrote down. It's never easy to lose someone you love and to watch them suffer, but God's timing is perfect. Praying for continued peace and healing for all of you. Thanks for letting me come and celebrate his life with you guys!

Angela said...

Your dad was so fortunate to have such loving and devoted family. I'm sure he is happy, at peace and pain free.