We are nearing the end with my Dad. It is so hard to sit at his bedside, watching him labor with each breath. But I am thankful to be here for those rare moments, like earlier this afternoon, when he held my hand and said, plain as day, with his eyes closed, "I love you!" We were all in the room, Katie, my cousin Andrea, my Aunt Noni, and me. On Thursday he was moved to a skilled nursing home and is under Hospice care now. He has become all but unresponsive, and it pains me to see him like this.
Pastor Johnny Caruso, one of Katie's youth pastors, came and prayed with Dad this morning. The nurse was about to give him his morphine and I asked her to withhold it until we prayed. Johnny talked with him, and he grunted and said Katie's name and Topher's name. I told him Topher was with Daddy, but that Katie was here. She was standing with her arms around me, holding me. She is such a strong girl. I gave her the option of going with Daddy or coming with me, and she wanted to come see Grandpa. Johnny asked if he could pray, and Dad tried to nod his head. So Katie held his hand and I put my hand on his arm, and Johnny explained that he was going to pray and Dad could just think the words in his heart.
When he was done, Dad tried to smile. Johnny asked if he prayed with him and if he knew for certain that he would be going to Heaven, and he nodded his head slightly and tried to smile. Katie and I were sobbing, and Johnny said to me, "That's a smile! He's at peace. Your daddy's going to heaven." Katie just had tears running down her face, she has been praying for her Grandpa since she knew to pray. I was just crying, because I have been praying for my dad since I was 6. I know he believed in Jesus, and he prayed, but I needed a sign that he knew for certain that he knows where he will be spending eternity, and when Caren and I talked with him last week he still wasn't sure.
It was the prayers of all my faithful friends that softened his heart. I know that the Lord prepared this time just for me and Katie. We told him after he received Jesus that he can go now. We know he's done fighting. I told him that he did a good job with me, and that I am a woman now, and between Carl and God they have this covered (and all my friends, because, let's face it....I honestly need help in so many ways...but I didn't tell him that!), so he doesn't have to hold on for me or Katie or Topher. We don't want him to suffer, we want him to dance on healed legs with Jesus. He used to love to dance, and would dance around with me to music on the record player in the living room of his apartment. He will have a perfect body, and will no longer be in pain.
I am peacefully sitting here with him as he struggles with his breaths and is heavily medicated, because I told him I wouldn't let him be alone. But even if I am not here, I know now that he will not be alone. Because when he takes his final breath here on earth, he will be taking his first breath in Heaven, and he will be welcomed by My Jesus.
Please keep praying for us. Because even though we have our sign, this is still hard.
Grandpa with Katie & Topher at a picnic in the Spring. One of the last times he really wanted to go outside because it was "too hot in the South" over the Summer.