Happy Father’s Day…


When I started thinking about Father’s Day this year I just became so depressed.  I felt that I don’t have any reason to celebrate Father’s Day tomorrow.  Today, I was going through Vic’s photos when I realized that it is not true!

My Dad died on the 21st of May 2011 and Vic’s father died on the 5th of November 1999.

Vic and her Gramps 1.4.2011
Vic and her Gramps 1.4.2011

I was single for most of Vic’s young life.  For most of her little life my Dad was her Dad.  Her Gramps taught her how to play cards and have a night cap….When Gramps had a nightcap he had to mix her a “drink” that had the exact same colouring as his…  They adored one another.

Just about the only thing my dad never forgot was that Vic was ill.  He could not remember my name, but he remembered Vic was ill.  He forgot whether she was in hospital or not but knew she was ill… My Dad was the greatest father in the world.  He not only loved his family but cherished us all.

I grew up in a home with a sickly mother.  A childhood back injury lead to many years of suffering and a vicious cycle of back surgery, stomach surgery, back surgery, stomach surgery….  My parents taught us that “love” was a verb – love is an action.  We lived 1 Corinthians 13 in our home.  We were taught to love, honour and respect. My father was the perfect example of what a husband and father should be.

IMG_2538 (2)

In my single years I received a couple of proposals.  My mom pressured me – she really wanted me to remarry…  I always said I will remarry when I meet a man like my Dad.  And then I did…

From the day we were married Vic called Danie “Daddy”.  Danie’s four children were her siblings.

Danie was absolutely amazing with Vic and her illness.  When my dad moved in with us, Danie just accepted it as part of our journey.  He was incredibly patient with my Dad who suffered from Alzheimer’s.  His selfless, caring nature has allowed me to care for my dad and my child; to pursue my career and start-up Stepping Stone Hospice.

Danie was a wonderful dad to Vic.  She distinguished between Danie and Tienie (her biological father) by referring to Danie as “Daddy” and Tienie as her father.  She absolutely adored Danie.  Danie loved Vic as if she was his own.

In the final days of Vic’s life she pleaded with him to not leave her.

"Don't leave me Daddy"
“Don’t leave me Daddy”

A couple of days before her death Vic saw her father…  Jared was standing at the bottom of her bed and she said “Look Jared, Oupa Tienie is standing behind you…”   Her dad held her hand as she stopped breathing.  Her father took her hand as she stopped breathing…

When I packed up Vic’s cupboards I found the cardigan she had bought Danie for Father’s Day this year…  This year she will celebrate Father’s Day with her father and Danie will wear his cardigan.

Father’s Day and Mother’s Day were special days for Vic.  She loved spoiling and being spoilt!

Vic was desperately ill last year on Father’s Day.  I cooked a large family lunch and all the Gauteng kids and grandkids came for lunch.  Vic tried to have lunch with us but within minutes she was nauseous.  I remember her eyes filling up with tears when she excused herself from the table.  “I am sorry Daddy” she said.

Father's Day 2012
Father’s Day 2012

Later that afternoon Danie’s eldest daughter lay next to her in bed. They wept together.  Danie sat with them filled with grief for the pain Vic was going through.

Danie is an amazing grandfather.  He loves Vic’s boys as much as he loves his “biological” grandchildren.  He enjoys spending time with them.  He is teaching them the value of family, goodness and love! 

This beautiful man is more than I deserve.  I love him with every fiber of my body.  I am grateful to him for the gift of his children and grandchildren every day of my life.  I am grateful that he taught me the biggest commandment of all – love!

So tonight I salute two wonderful men.  Happy Father’s Day Daddy.  Danie, you are my best friend.  I love you with every fibre in my body.  Thank you so much for being such a wonderful daddy to Vic and grandfather to the boys.

Vic's beloved Daddy and Gramps
Vic’s beloved Daddy and Gramps

Vic, I hope you have fun in Heaven tomorrow with Gramps and your father.  I know you will be surrounded and ensconced in love.  We will miss you on Father’s Day and every other day in our lives.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9ZMDPf9hZw&feature=colike

When the soul leaves the body


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auoJV4re3nU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auoJV4re3nU

When a child is born we laugh, cry with joy and celebrate; when a loved one dies we cry with heartbreak and mourn.  We spend a lifetime celebrating life.  Grief too deserves time, attention, honour and embracing.

Grief is painful, yet it gives us a glimpse of Heaven – afterlife… Life after death…

I have seen a quite a few people die.  Mostly very close family… my mom, my mother-in-law, my dad and my precious child.  I have seen strangers die – patients in TB hospitals, AIDS patients in hospital; a young man burning to death after a car accident…

My Mom died when she developed septicaemia from surgery.  She was confused from the raging fever and the infection ravaging her little body.  Mom knew that it would be her last surgery.  She said that she would not survive the operation and was prepared for death.  Mom died with my dad and us kids standing around her bed – taking turns to pray for her.  Like Vic she fought for life until death won the battle.

The day my mom-in-law died I sat next to her bed.  It was just the two of us.  I asked her whether she was scared.  She smiled and shook her head.  I know that she looked forward to death…to the afterlife.  Hours later when this gracious lady just stopped breathing her children and I were standing around her bed.  We were singing her favourite hymn.  Her death was gentle and dignified.

My Dad was not aware of the fact that he was dying… He developed Alzheimer’s pneumonia and gently lapsed into a coma.  My dad just forgot how to breathe.  If he was aware of the fact that he was dying I think he would have been surprised.  He did not “know” he was dying.  I know he would have been grateful that he had been spared that final indignity of Alzheimer’s.  He died the way he lived – with dignity and gentleness…

My precious child died fighting.  She had so much left to do.  She had children to raise.  Vic, like my mom, did not know how to not fight to live another day…

I suppose we all have pre-conceived ideas of how people should handle death emotionally and spiritually.  For years I would ask Vic whether she had asked God for forgiveness and mercy before she went into theatre for more surgery…Later in life I thought how stupid of me.  Vic lived a life, obedient to the greatest commandment – To love God with mind, body and soul….and her neighbour… I knew that Vic had made peace with God.  In death Vic requested Last Communion…  Her spiritual rituals were taken care off.

Vic said her goodbyes.  It was heart-breaking for everyone who loved her.  She needed to hear that we would honour her memory, not forget what she represented in life.  She needed to hear that her sons would remember her as their Mother and not use her as an excuse.  She thanked people over and over for their friendship and love; their caring and loyalty…

Nothing was left unsaid.    I read somewhere “something said or not said, something you wish you had done differently, can stick inside you like a splinter.”

The scenes of death that I have witnessed and lived through were sacred.  I saw souls depart from the bodies of my loved ones… I saw that there is more than life-sustaining organs to a body.  There is a soul…There is no comparison to the appearance of the body after the soul has left the body.

I saw Vic’s father’s soul leave his body five days before he was declared brain-dead.  I was standing next to his hospital bed asking him for forgiveness.  I realised standing there that I was not the only one who suffered from our divorce.  I realised that I too had caused him pain.  I spoke to him about God and Heaven – I prayed for him.  One bloody tear ran down his check.  He continued to breathe on the ventilator, but I felt his soul leave his body.

The willingness to sit at death’s bedside – to embrace the loss experiences in our lives – opens a window into Heaven.  I do not fear death.  I know when my time comes I will embrace death knowing that I will be reunited with my child, my parents, loved ones, friends…the ones I leave behind will eventually follow and join us.   When something leaves it goes somewhere.  It is a displacement of energy.

Now I am between birth and death.  Heaven awaits.

Some of my related posts and other great reads:

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/10/29/one-bloody-tear/
https://tersiaburger.com/2012/08/03/happy-birthday-mommy-3-8-2012/
https://tersiaburger.com/2012/07/18/487/
http://humansarefree.com/2011/03/russian-scientist-consciousness.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auoJV4re3nU
http://jimmyakin.com/when-the-soul-leaves-the-body
http://www.arachimusa.org/Index.asp?ArticleID=61&CategoryID=359&Page=1

 

ALZHEIMER’S – A SPECIAL POEM


The best father in the world...
The best father in the world…

 

My beautiful dad died of Alzheimer’s.  

 This poem is for you Daddy.  You are my hero; the best father in the world.  You loved unconditionally.  you held onto your dignity with superhuman effort….

I was so proud of you.  You clung to your old-fashioned manners and values until death.

I am glad you died with your dignity intact.  I loved you every day of your life and will continue to love you every day of my life.

A special Poem
 
Do not ask me to remember.
Don’t try to make me understand.
Let me rest and know you’re with me.
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.
 
I’m confused beyond your concept.
I am sad and sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you
To be with me at all cost.
 
Do not lose your patience with me.
Do not scold or curse or cry.
I can’t help the way I’m acting,
Can’t be different ‘though I try.
 
Just remember that I need you,
That the best of me is gone.
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me ’till my life is done.
 
– Unknown
My Dad a month before his death....it was such a wonderful day!
My Dad a month before his death….it was such a wonderful day!
My dad and I on my wedding day
My dad and I on my wedding day
Simply the best
Simply the best
Vic adored her Gramps and he adored her!
Vic adored her Gramps and he adored her!

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My hero!
My hero!

I want to be an eagle


Photo Credit:  http://www.google.co.za/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&docid=a4HSdquhxAfXUM&tbnid=bvrLKK8OWwZQ2M:&ved=0CAcQjB0wADivAQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdaryl-hunter.net%2Fslideshow%2Feagles-nest-idaho-snake-river%2F&ei=UdAjUYbdBO6a1AWewoAQ&psig=AFQjCNHGyZZ71w_6bQPcV6e5EXHslosATg&ust=1361387985127753
Photo Credit: Google

My late father was pretty advanced in his journey with Alzheimers when I read that AD patients respond well to animals.  We got my Dad a little Maltese Poodle and it was love at first sight.

My Dad absolutely adored Tiger.  He carried Tiger everywhere and Tiger sat with him, ate with him and slept with him.

One day my Dad and I were chatting and I asked him: “If you could be any animal what would you be?”

I fully expected him to say a Lion – he loved the magnificence of lions…I love eagles.  I don’t think Dad quite understood what I was asking and said “You go first…”

“I would want to be an eagle…” I said

“Why?” he asked

“I want to soar high above the sky and experience that total solitude and quiet…” I replied

“Oh” Dad said.  “I would want to be this little guy”

Dad did not remember the name of his beloved dog but he knew that the dog was loved, nurtured and spoilt!

I have always equated the turmoil of teenage and parent relationships as an “Eagle” relationship.  The following is an extract from a site –  http://www.eagleflight.org/cyberstudies/actions-and-attitudes-of-a-growing-church/157-with-eagles-wings.  I have changed some of the headings and removed text that is not relevant but basically the content below belongs to http://www.eagleflight.com

Location is very important to the eagle and it’s young. If possible, eagles build their nests on the face of cliffs. They don’t build a nest in a tree unless they absolutely have to, because a nest in a tree can be easily accessed. They don’t build it on the top of the cliff, either, because on the top of a cliff it can be violated, too. Eagles build their nests in some inaccessible place.

The nest is built with consummate skill—not using little twigs, but great branches woven together in an immensely skillful way. If somehow an eagle’s nest is loosed from its moorings and falls, it rarely comes apart. In fact, eagles’ nests are so big, they have weighed in at half a ton! They’re comfortable, too. Their centers are carefully lined with feathers and leaves, and the eggs are placed there. When they hatch, the mother begins the process of feeding the babies.

After the eaglets get to a certain size, or maturity, everything changes! One day the mother eagle comes back from being gone, but this time there’s no food in her beak, and she doesn’t land on the edge of the nest. Instead, she hovers over the nest.

You may not know this, but an eagle can do almost what a hummingbird can do. Even though they are great birds, they can remain almost motionless in midair with those great wings just undulating in the breeze. They do this about three feet above the nest. I’m sure if little eagles could talk to one another—and maybe they can—one would certainly say, “My, what strong wings Mommy has.”

Why does the mother do this? She is demonstrating that those curious appendages on the babies’ backs have a useful function. Eagles, of course, were meant to fly, but they don’t know that. If we take an eagle and separate it at birth from its parents, it will never learn to fly. It will just grovel around in the dirt like a chicken. It might even look up and see eagles soaring overhead and never guess that it was meant to soar in the heavens.

Eagles have to be taught, and that’s the mother’s job. So first she just demonstrates.

The next thing she does is come down into the nest and surprise her young. One can imagine how warm it must normally be for the little eagles to snuggle with their mother and be enshrouded with her feathers, but this time she puts her head up against one of the little ones, and pushes that little one closer and closer to the edge of the nest. (“Hey mom, mom, what are you doing?”)

All at once she pushes the little one out of the nest, and the eaglet falls down the face of the cliff, surely to be destroyed. But not so! In a flash the great mother eagle flies down, catches the little one on her back, and flies up and deposits it in the nest. (“Whew! Mom, that must have been an accident.”) But it wasn’t an accident. The mother bird pushes the little one out again, and again, over and over.

Why would a mother do that to her young? Does she hates the little one? Not at all. It’s just that those little birds were made to fly, and they don’t know it, so she is going to push them out of the nest. She never lets them hit bottom, but she does let them fall, because they have to learn something they don’t know.

The next time the mother bird comes back she decides to clean house, and so she stands on the edge of the nest. The first things to go are the feathers inside; she drops them over the edge. Then the leaves go over the edge—heave ho! While this is going on, she’s not very talkative, either. (“Mom, what are you doing?”) She pays no attention. Since she built the house, she knows how to take it apart.

Next she decides to take the sticks out of the middle of the nest, and with her great strong beak and feet, she’s able to break them off and stand them straight up. (“Mom, it’s not comfortable in here anymore.”) Then she takes certain key sticks out of the nest and throws them over the edge. (“What are you doing, Mom? You are wrecking my room.”)

She seemingly pays no attention to the concerns of her young as she prepares to pull the nest apart, for she is determined that those little ones will fly, and she knows something they don’t. She knows they will never fly as long as they remain in the nest.

That is why teenagers and mothers fight…so they can learn to fly and “escape” home!

We all go through this stage with our teenagers.  Most of the time we don’t even realize the process….  But Nature is great and takes over from us.

I was never able to let go of Vic.  I wanted her close where I could hear her breathe.  The movie “Terms of endearment” shows a mother who walks into the nursery and climbs into the cot to make sure that her baby is breathing.  When the baby starts crying she promptly climbs out, marches out and says “That’s better…”

That is the mother I was!  I mothered (smothered) my precious baby until her last breath.  I do not regret that she never learnt to fly.  Hell, she never even learnt to ride a bike!

As a parent we can only do our best.  We love and nurture and then we set them free…

I just feel so lost and empty.

dead woman walking


Last night I had a discussion with someone who Vic loves very dearly.  This friend of Vic has spent endless hours, days, weeks and months in hospital with Vic.  She is actually the only person that has truly travelled this horrific journey with us.  Vic has lived through many death sentences and reprieves.  Lee has been around for at least the past 7 years of Vic’s journey.  Vic has nursed Vic back to health many times and I know she cares deeply for Vic, her friend.

I discussed the various treatment options with her.  Do I insist on having a stent fitted or do I request feeding tubes?  Or do I go with Vic’s non-intervention wish?  But if I comply how do I bring calmness and peace in Vic’s life?  Vic is no exception to the rule…As Bella pointed out last night even Jesus of NAZARETH feared death….Fearing death is as natural as breathing is to us.

Last night I decided no sedation.  If I allow sedation, which is against her wishes, I will silence Vic’s voice, her fears and her tears.

Dr Sue says the bleeding is from the abdomen.  Her Oesophagus, throat and mouth are covered in a mass of sores from all the vomiting.  Her breathing is shallow and her heart rate weak but very rapid.  Her blood pressure is dropping and her circulation is poor.  The liver is very enlarged.

We are past the point of no return.  Vicky is dying and only a miracle can save her.  There is no operation, no magic medication, and no nothing that can save her.

Today I again witnessed her anguish and phenomenal will to live.  I saw Vic, in my mind’s eye, Vic being escorted, in deadly silence down a long dark passage.  Her family and friends were escorting her on her final walk into the chamber of death.  I clearly saw the fear in her eyes and I could feel her little body trembling with fear.  I heard a voice saying “Dead woman walking…”

I saw her walk into an execution room, being strapped down and the needle being inserted into her little arm.  I was the head warden and my eyes were flitting between the clock and a telephone…Would there be another reprieve??

It is so cruel.  For all of us.  Why do people linger?  Why don’t we all just go to sleep and never wake up?  Or die in a car accident?  Why this suffering???  I want to go to sleep and never wake up.  Life sucks!

Vic is on a mild sedation.  She is more calm and peaceful than she has been for a couple of weeks.  She woke up this evening and had dinner…half a hamburger!!  My little take-away queen!! She only vomited at 11.30 pm so she managed to actually keep down the food.  She has passed no urine today.

She sobbed when I told her the boys had covered their school books…”I want to do it for them!”  She wailed

“I have let down my boys.  I always cover their books…”

“Oh Jared, look!  Oupa Tienie is standing behind you…”  It really spooked the boys.  Tienie died on the 5th of November 1999…

I wish Vic was married.  I wish her biological father was still alive!  I wish the decision was not mine!!!

Tomorrow I will ask that the sedation be increased.  I will silence my child’s sweet voice.  I will also silence her tears and fears.

“Dead woman walking…”

 

A change of Heart


Thirteen years ago, we celebrated Tienie, Vic’s father’s, birthday at his memorial service.  Since the 29th of October Vic has relived every second of her father’s final journey.  It has been indelibly burnt into her memory, her being, and her life.

Thirteen years ago Vic stood up in front of hundreds of Tienie’s friends, family, colleagues, lovers, ex-lovers, ex-wives and delivered a beautiful and moving eulogy!  She honored her father by talking about what he represented in everyone’s lives.  How giving he was…

Tienie gave his family and friends love, laughter, friendship and joy, and we knew he would want to give someone else the opportunity to have a better life.  Vic made the brave decision to honor her father’s unwritten wishes.  She gave permission for Tienie’s organs to be harvested and donated.

As we said our goodbyes we were able to celebrate his generosity.  He had given men and women a heart, lungs, kidneys, retina, bone, pancreas, and skin…  For one or other reason his liver was not used.  Up to today we joke and say that he used up his own liver…

Vic received letters from grateful families thanking her for the gift of life that they had received from her daddy.

I often wonder about the fortunate person who received Tienie’s heart.   I wonder whether elements of a person’s character – or even their soul – are transplanted along with a heart.   CLAIRE SYLVIA, a divorced mother of one, was 47 and dying from a disease called primary pulmonary hypertension when, in 1988, she had a pioneering heart-lung transplant in America.  She was given the organs of an 18-year-old boy who had been killed in a motorcycle accident near his home in Maine.

Claire, a former professional dancer, then made an astonishing discovery: she seemed to be acquiring the characteristics, and cravings (beer and KFC), of the donor.  Claire catalogued her journey by writing a book called A Change Of Heart.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-558256/I-given-young-mans-heart—started-craving-beer-Kentucky-Fried-Chicken-My-daughter-said-I-walked-like-man.html#ixzz2BrWBPp7G 

The recipient of Tienie’s heart could take on a couple of beautiful characteristics; develop a love for beer, whiskey and women…  He/she would also prefer vegetables to meat, be honest to the core of his/her soul…. He/she would not cry… Party hard and work even harder.  He/she would have a wonderful, mischievous sense of humor  be very tidy and lose their ability to dance…

Today I miss my first love.  I miss the father of my child.  I am grateful that he does not have to go through the hell of Vic’s disease.  I thank God for the child he fathered.  I am grateful that he and Danie got on well.

By writing this post I do not want to detract from the wonderful marriage that I have.  I am so grateful for the second chance I had at love and happiness.  I thank God for the wonderful husband He gave me, the Dad that Vic was given.  I thank God for Danie.  He is an amazing Dad to Vic.  Tienie will always be her father but Danie is her Dad.  Danie is the greatest gift I received from God and I love my life with him.  I love Danie with every fiber of my body.  I will ALWAYS love Danie.

But today I miss my first love, my friend, the father of my child.

Happy birthday Tienie.

 

 

 

 

Today was a bad day


Vic and her boys Christmas 2011
Christmas 2011

When you have a frozen abdomen from having 80+ abdominal surgeries, have a septic abdomen and septic prosthesis in your spine, suffer from Addison’s Disease and spend 24/7 in pain your world becomes very small. You also become well travelled as you have been to hell and back! Life gravitates around pain medication, more pain medication and hopefully some blissful sleep. Friends come and go. Spouses come and go. In an uncertain life it is a certainty that everybody eventually leaves.

So for the few of us that choose to stay around it is important to be sensitive to the emotions of the terminally ill person. Allow me to personalize this… It is important for us as a family to be sensitive to Vic’s feelings of abandonment.

Countless times a day Vic will say “Thank you Mommy for…….” “Thank you for looking after me”; “thank you for not leaving me”; “thank you for loving me” …… A child should never ever have to say that!

An adult child should rebel against the constraints of her parents rules and discipline and leave home. She leaves the safety of the home and comes back for Sunday lunches, to drop off laundry and bring a new love around to meet The Parents… Eventually the child will venture down the aisle, fall pregnant, christen her children, start running a car pool…. the list carries on and on. Eventually in large parts of the world the aged parents may move in with the now mature children and eventually die. I got married, left home, had Vic, got divorced, bought a new house, started my own business, remarried and eventually my Dad came to live with us for 18 months until he forgot how to breathe. Not once in my adult life did I ever consider moving back home to my parents. As an adult, wife and mother I often longed for the safety of my childhood home. I long for just ONE day in my life without responsibilities. I long to be a child again – carefree and cherished…. I miss my mom and wish I had her support and advice to get us through this difficult journey.

My sister and I discussed the way our lives had turned out. She has had an extremely challenging life and I seem to go from one crisis to another. We decided that we used up all our good luck and happiness as children…. I want to be a child again!

As usual I digress.

Vic is emotionally fragile. She fears that the remaining few people will also get tired of her ill health and pained life and abandon her.  She fears that the boys will abandon her and look to us, the grandparents, for parenting.  She fears losing the only “position” in life that she has left – the position  of “Mother”.  It has been very difficult to sacrifice her independence and move home. She has gone from being a wife to being a child. She has gone from being the mother to being mothered. I am a typical parent. I want to protect my little baby…. I want to do everything for her. I want to wrap her up in cotton wool and keep her resting in her bed. Maybe if she takes things easy it will buy us some extra time… If she is in bed her chances of injury is less.

Every day of her life countless indignities are heaped upon her. She is dependant for everything from medication, care, food and money. Poor poppet! Death is always in the foreground of her mind. Either fear of dying and at times fear of not dying.

I don’t really know what I set out to articulate in this blog but writing has once again reminded me what a pitiful life Vic has. My poor, poor little baby! No-one in the world deserves her life! But we will never abandon her – ever!

Today was a bad day – again.