Landslide

The night my dad died my mom, sister and I slept in the same room. None of us wanted to be alone.  It was probably 1am by the time we went to bed.  The Hospice workers, funeral home and neighbors all left by midnight.  So we pulled 2 twin mattresses in and prepared to have a “slumber party”.  While we were all laying in bed we were making small talk before we fell asleep and I said that I kept expecting dad to walk in and ask us what we were doing.  Then he would have just shaken his head and said whatever you girls want to do and proceed to get into bed with mom.  We all laughed because he probably was standing there wondering what we were doing, we just couldn’t see him.

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The next morning I got up early.  My mom and sister were still sleeping and I went out into the family room where dad had been all week.  I had stripped the sheets off the hospital bed and put them in the washer already.  (I didn’t want my mom to wake up and have that medical/medicine smell that had been in the house for week there anymore.)  So I sat on the couch next the empty bed and cried.  Alone.  In my head was a song by Stevie Nicks.  Landslide.  Where it came from I don’t know.  I don’t like Fleetwood Mac or Stevie Nicks all that much.  I don’t have any of their music.  But these were the words in my head.

I took my love and I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills
‘Till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing,
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you.
But time makes you bolder,
Even children get older.
I’m getting older too.

So, take my love, take it down.
Oh climb a mountain and turn around.
And If you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills,
Well maybe the landslide will bring it down.
Oh oh, the landslide will bring it down.

I was so tired, so sad, so relieved.  It was over.  We could move on to the next step of the grieving process and start healing. After my husband picked me up later that morning and we were driving home I googled the song on my iPhone and played it through the car stereo to actually hear what my brain had been singing to me all morning.

The mountains were covered in snow, the sun was shining and the sky was blue.  There were tears and peace.

Dad’s Funeral Tribute

I thought I would post the talk I gave at my dad’s funeral.  There is a private link to the video I showed for his life sketch.

It is so amazing to stand here and see so many faces of people that have been a part of my parent’s lives, and mine, for so many years. Many of you I have known almost my whole life and others of you are new friends of my parents. For those of you that are newer friends I am Heather, Allan and Alice’s oldest daughter. Also known as Friendly Frog and Heather Berry by my dad, and more recently the dominate bossy daughter by his doctors and nurses.

Before I say what I have prepared I want to publicly thank everyone that has been such a great support to our family over the past year.  I imagine everyone in this room has done something for our family, whether it be visiting my parents, bringing over food, to keeping us in your prayers.  All of this has been a great comfort and we have felt your support and love.  I would also like to thank all the hospice staff, especially our “angel” as I like to call her, Cassie.  She was with us twice a day the last week dad was with us. She was our bright spot in every day.

In a blessing my dad received when he was 13 it said:

“Cultivate the spirit of friendliness and cheerfulness, the doors shall be opened unto you, and you will be the means of instilling faith in the lives of other people.  You shall serve in many capacities among the children of our Heavenly Father.  Cultivate the spirit of love.  Refrain from hasty judgment, that you may be wise and just in your dealings with your fellow men.”

My dad was probably the least judgmental, most friendly cheerful man I have ever known. Always positive. Never angry. Well unless it had to do with a lost BYU football game. Even after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer he stayed positive. I never heard him say anything negative and I never saw him feel sorry for himself. He said “It is what it is and I’m going to fight it.” And that’s what he did. He went through chemo and radiation with a smile on his face. He spent the summer doing what he loved. Camping, fishing, traveling with his best friends, celebrating birthdays and holidays with his family making wonderful memories.

My dad lived a life of harmony and unity. Our home growing up was a place of refuge. My parents taught us love and respect by example.  There were never harsh words or anger between them.  No arguments or fighting.  My dad called my mom everyday at lunch to tell her he loved her.  Their love is truly a happily ever after story. Watching my mom care for my dad this past year and especially in his last few weeks was a privileged experience for me. I know now more of selfless love by her example.

I asked my mom if I could give my dad’s life sketch because I wanted to pay tribute to the man I have loved the most and the longest in my life. I’m not one that usually leans towards the traditional. I didn’t want to just stand here and read off of a piece of paper my father’s life to you. I wanted to show you he has lived a good life, full of lots of accomplishments, happiness and joy.

I spent a few weeks putting this video together and it gave me much peace and comfort. It made me realize all the things he had done in his life and all we had done as a family growing up, all the places we had gone, and all the things he taught us kids. He lived a full and amazing life and then in turn gave us one.

Whenever I hear the words to the song on this video I think they are the words my dad would be saying to us.  You are never alone; I’ll be in every beat of your heart when you face the unknown. Wherever you fly this isn’t goodbye. My love will follow you, stay with you, you’re never alone.

After – Week 1

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Cry scale today is probably 9.  It is such a bunch of conflicting emotions.

Relief because it is all over with.

Happiness because dad is now at peace and cancer free.

Emptiness because I want to talk to him.

Exhaustion because I am coming off of 17 days of this being my sole focus.  Taking care of dad, planning the funeral, the funeral.

Anger because I hate this disease and read of others going through it right now and know exactly how they are feeling and how it is going to end for them too.

Sadness….self explanatory.

Wanting normalcy again……

Endings

 

 

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John Allan Swenson, 68, from Springville passed away on Monday, February 4, 2013, after a heroic battle with Glioblastoma brain cancer. He was born August 6, 1944 in Payson, Utah to John Lewis and Verlaine Beardall Swenson. He married Alice Edith Hill on August 18, 1967 in the Manti LDS temple. They celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary this past summer.

Allan graduated from Springville High School, served in the Army Reserves and graduated from BYU with a BA in History. He worked as an Insurance Claims Adjuster for 35 years until he retired. He loved to fish, camp and spend time outdoors with his family and friends. He was a dedicated and loyal BYU fan and was a member of the Cougar Club for over 45 years. He was a member of the LDS church and served a mission to Sydney Australia in 1963. He served in many callings for the church such as Bishoprics, Stake Presidencies, Scouts, High Priests and Home Teacher. He was an amazing husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend.

Allan is survived by his father John; 2 brothers: Gary (Brenda) of Pleasant Grove and Hal (Kathy) of Boise Idaho; his wife Alice; and his three children: Heather (Tony) of Logan, Melissa (Chris) of Boise, Idaho, and Steven (Laura) of Fort Collins, Colorado; and 7 grandchildren: Jeremy, Stormy, Dominic, Jonah, Chase, Rachel and Allan. He was preceded in death by his mother Verlaine and his brother Randy.

The Swenson family would like to thank all of the doctors, nurses, hospice workers, ward members, neighbors, family and friends that have been such a great help and support over the past year.

Funeral Services will be held Monday, February 11th at 11:30 am in the Hobble Creek 14th Ward, 950 South 1700 East, Springville, UT. Viewings will also be held at the church on Sunday, February 10th from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, and prior to services on Monday from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. Interment in Springville Evergreen Cemetery.

Funeral Directors: Utah Valley Mortuary.

 

http://www.utahvalleyfuneral.com/obituaries/Allan-Swenson/#/Obituary

 

 

Update

There isn’t much to update.

* He is still in a “coma”. He hasn’t really moved at all. Still a little movement in his left hand.

* He still has some urine output. It is weirdly crystallizing in the tubing. I need to google that.

* His oxygen today was 81 and his pulse is still in the 120 range. We haven’t taken his blood pressure for a while now because the nurses don’t want to squeeze his arm and agitate him.

* We are vigilant with his meds, doing them every 2 hours. His breathing seems better since we have been doing that. The morphine really helps his breathing. All day it has been shallow and very quiet. In the last hour it has gotten much more wet and heavy sounding.

* They gave us some eye drops that you use to dry up secretions. You put a few drops in his mouth and it actually works. When I first read the box I thought they had given him the wrong prescription. I even googled it and it said nothing about using eye drops for this reason. The nurse said to google it with the word hospice after it. Then a ton of information popped up. Weird.

* He has had a fever all day. The hospice nurse came over and gave him a suppository fever reducer and that has seemed to help. They gave him another sponge bath. He was a little agitated after that.

* I’m still so amazed at my parent’s church and neighbors. We have had so much food brought in and so many visitors. I hope they keep coming over after this is all over with. I can’t even begin to imagine how it is going to feel for her to be in an empty house alone.

* I got about 8 hours of sleep last night. My sister kept the night watch. We are having a hard time remembering what day it is and what happened when. It is all blurring together.

* We talk to him all the time. I don’t know if he can hear us, but we still talk to him and sit and hold his hand. I hope he can hear us and know we are with him and he isn’t alone.  It is hard to listen to my mom in the other room talking to him and telling him how much she loves him and crying.

* I don’t know how much longer we really all can do this.

Update

My dad is still hanging in there. It should happen some time this weekend we think. We can’t figure out what is keeping him here. We have all said our goodbyes and told him that it is ok to go. He does seem more peaceful this morning and his breathing isn’t as labored or loud. My mom got in the hospital bed with him last night and slept with him for a while. Heartbreaking.

This is what is happening:

*He has been unresponsive to any touch or voice now for almost 2 days. He still has some involuntary movement in his left arm, raising it up to his face and back down. But other than that no movement at all.

* We still are giving him morphine and Ativan. On Thursday he night he vomited 4-5 times and we couldn’t keep anything in him at all. We finally had to call the on call hospice nurse to come in. He was very agitated and she got him calmed down. He slept through the whole thing though.

* He hasn’t taken any water or food now for 48 hours. No bowel movements. His urine in has been very very dark, but today it has lightened up and his output is very low.

* His pulse is between 120-140 and still pretty strong.

* His lungs are filling with fluid. His oxygen level is in the low 70’s. His cough makes it sound like he is drowning in fluid.

* I think he is having small seizures. His left arm curls up tight and shakes a little. He hasn’t had his anti seizure meds since Wednesday. We tried to give him some today and it just ran out of his mouth.

* He has 2 huge hard lumps on his neck right around his wind pipe. We are wondering if the cancer has spread. I have read different opinions about that. Some say that it can spread others say no. Whichever, he has something new growing.

We all sleep in the same room as him now. Every little cough makes up wake up/jump up. I think I have had 8 hours sleep total in the past 56 hours.

Please pray for him. Pray for him to go quickly. I just want him to have peace.

Website

I just wanted to put a link on here to a web site that has been so helpful for me.  I have been reading it every day the past few weeks.

http://www.brainhospice.com

Amazing site with tons of great information.

Dad is in his last days.  3 tablespoons of applesauce today and very very minimal water.  He is not awake for more than 30 seconds at a time.  He slept through the sponge bath the hospice nurse gave him today.  We had to get his medications in liquid form because he can’t swallow pills anymore and he still struggles with taking those.

I will update more tomorrow.