From Dad with Love

I am a daddy’s girl. I have been all my life.

Two days ago, on Wednesday, my dad passed around 10 PM. I was with him for the last 31 hours of his life.

During those 31 hours, my dad taught me three big lessons about life – even though it looked like he was just lying on the bed with his mind ravaged by Alzheimer’s.

Here is what I learned:

1. We have an unlimited potential to bring joy to others.

Dad had lived at a Sunrise Senior Community for most of the last two years.

I felt like I was sitting with a VIP as staff person after person came to my dad’s room to say goodbye to him.

  • (A few even came in on their day off to make sure they could see him one last time.)
  • With teary eyes they would share funny stories about their interactions with Dad.

Some may think a person with advanced Alzheimer’s has little to offer the world – my dad was a life-toucher in spite of it.

There are no limits for our ability to impact others.   


2. Taking care of you helps you take care of others.

As many of you know, over the last two years, I’ve lost about 80 pounds.

My trainer Mollie helped me do it by building my muscles.

  • Around the start of this year, I graduated to really big weights.
  • Last week I was doing squats with 175 pounds on my back.

I love being stronger and healthier.

  • There have been many personal benefits.
  • Never realized how important my strength would be to anyone else.

At 5 AM on Wednesday, Dad had a little panic attack.

He threw himself basically off the bed.

Luckily I was sitting next to him at the time.

  • I jumped to my feet and caught him before slamming into the floor.
  • I was able to lift him back to his bed safely and get him comfortable again.

A year ago, I would not have been able to do that.

 You never know when your better self will become important to others.


3. Love transcends all.

My dad’s mind was ravaged- death was knocking on the door.

And still, my dad’s love came through crystal clear for me.

I spent those 31 hours awake at Dad’s side.

  • Watching over him.
  • Talking with him.
  • Loving him.

Much of that time it was just the two of us in the room.

By 6 PM Wednesday, I was once again on my own with Dad.

The hospice nurse had just left.

  • She told me it could be a few hours or maybe even a day still.
  • People go when they are ready.

 One of the Sunrise med techs who gave Dad his medicine brainstormed with me what Dad might be holding out for.

  • Was there someone he needed to see?
  • Something that needed to be done?

I contacted my friend Tim who is a Methodist minister (and very cool guy) to see if he had time to chat with Dad.

He called us back around 8 PM.

Tim talked with my dad about the rich life he’d had and how Dad was going someplace wonderful.

  • Tim then talked about pain in those left behind and the release through the grieving process.
  • He told Dad he would help me with it – and I saw Dad respond.

By the time I hung up with Tim, Dad’s breathing had shifted in pattern – a step closer to death.

I realized Dad was worried about me and knowing Tim would be there made a difference.

  • So I chatted with Dad about Tim and his family.
  • How excited we were they were moving back to Ann Arbor.

 At 9:45 PM, Dad had his next round of medicine.

  • The med tech told me he could still last for hours.
  • I wanted to help him out of this pain.

If Dad loved me enough, in spite of his ravaged brain, to hear relief in Tim’s words, I needed to love him enough to make it easier for him to not cause me pain.

  • Around 10 PM, I stood and told him I loved him
  • Gave him a kiss and let him know I was going to the dining room to get something to eat.
  • I would be back in 10 minutes or so.

Walking away was the hardest thing this daddy’s girl has ever done.

By the time I reached the dining room, he was gone.

Nothing can get in the way of determined love.

Never did I expect those last hours with Dad to be such a learning experience – I should have known better.

I love you Dad.

37 comments to From Dad with Love

  • Cathi Eifert

    What an awesome love letter to your Father. Hugs and prayers to you Cynthia.

  • Thanks Cathi! I balled my eyes out as I wrote it and found the photos to go with it. I hope I did him proud.

  • MariAnn apley

    What a beautiful letter to your dad! Thinking of you.
    He must have been very proud of you.

  • Thanks for your thoughts MariAnn!

    I don’t know if you got to meet Dad at our wedding or not. You would have enjoyed knowing him.

  • Christy Jellets

    Cynthia,

    You have an amazing talent for motivating others. I lost my dad only a year ago and did not have the chance o be with him in the end. Your strength, courage and honesty are going to help others through difficult times. I am honored know you. Your heart pours into each message you share.

  • Christy, I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for your kind words. It would be wonderful if sharing our story can help others.

    My dad was my first writing teacher. We used to compete writing to companies to see if we could persuade them to take our desired actions.

    For the longest time, I thought all the little girls wrote letters with their dads like that.

    Dad was an amazing copy writer.

  • PJ

    Beautiful. Daddy’s girl here too – Almost 7 years since Dad passed. I too was able to be with him and tell him goodbye. I remember my Mom telling me before my weekly visit that he had stopped eating. I knew this Daddy’s girl could get him to eat. When tears ran down his cheeks with his jaw tightly shut, I knew he had made the decision to leave this world. He died peacefully two days later with Jack and I by his side. God gives us great glory by just believing in him. love ya. pj

  • Karen Veldt

    Hi Cynthia,

    You probably don’t know who I am. I went to school to school with your husband James. I was very touched after I read this post. The connection and commitment you shared with your father is amazing. I also enjoy watching your fitcyn post on facebook. You have been an inspiration for me. The passion you have for others and for life is definitely an encouragement for so many. I am sorry for the loss of your father. I know that you will definitely find all the good in the lessons you have learned from him. Thank you for your spunky spirit and your beautiful smile. Having you as a friend is a gift for any person. I’m not surprised that James found such an amazing woman. I hope you continue to bring joy to all those around you. Thinking of you during this difficult time. Karen

  • MJ

    What a beautiful post and tribute to a man you obviously loved very much. Being able to see the lessons in those moments .. and having the strength to share them with all of us .. wonderful.

    I have seen the power of having someone say those words “I will be ok with out you” or “I will be here to help her through losing you” on someone who is waiting to pass. Those words unlock the key to letting go for the ailing patient.

    So sorry for your loss
    MJ

  • PJ – Thanks for sharing your memories with your Dad. We daddy’s girls have to stick together! Hard to believe it’s already almost seven years. Big hug.

    Karen – Thank you for your kind words. My dad would love that you enjoy my spunky spirit and smile. He helped give me both. Thank you for being part of my world.

    MJ – Walking away from my dad that night was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I agree with you – also the most necessary for him to let go. Thank you for your support.

    Cynthia

  • Christy Jones

    Cynthia, beautiful! Your dad IS proud :)

  • Auburn McCanta

    Cyn, from one daddy’s girl to another, I can without any doubt tell you that your father is proud of you. The courage to walk out of his room, most likely gave your dad the opportunity to pass privately. I suspect that when you walked one direction, your dad took that opportunity to explore his new direction, and he didn’t want to upset you in that process.

    Thank you for allowing everyone a glimpse into the final moments for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

    Your courage will certainly give peace to others in ways you can’t imagine. Lofting prayers and love to you and your family.

  • Thank you Christy and Auburn!

    I love my dad so much and miss him.

  • Bianca Constance

    Thank you for sharing. You were both blessed.

  • Ginny Hussey

    I am so sorry for your loss. Your story brought tears to my eyes as I too was Daddy’s Girl. I lost my dad 10 years ago to brain cancer. I was able to spend the last 3 months of his life by his side. We were able to share special moments & special talks. He lives in my memories & heart & I still talk to him each day.

  • Kandy Walker Sartori

    Beautiful message and your courage is amazing Cynthia! Thank you for sharing.

  • You were so resourceful, empathic, and creative to intuit the steps that would make it easier for your Dad to let go. It sounds like you definitely made the best of what is, for all of us, one of the hardest challenges in life.

  • Mardy Stevens

    We have known you bring us laughter…………..and now tears. But your joy was shining throughout! Thank you for sharing your incredible journey with a great man. My sympathy expands into knowing you will be celebrating your Father for years to come. What joy!

  • Paula

    Thanks so much for sharing….will make it easier for those of us who will soon be in your shoes.

  • How brave of you to share this with all of us, when the pain of your dad’s passing is so fresh and raw. It is a beautiful tribute to the love you two shared. May you be blessed with peace and much love from all your family and friends.

  • Cathy

    What a beautiful tribute to your father! His spirit lives on in you.

    The truth is that those we love are never truly gone. The body may have run its course, but the soul lives forever.

    The loss of our parents is one of the most difficult losses we face, may the comfort of friends and family hug you gently at this time…..

  • Judie Yannarelli

    Cynthia – you were a great daughter and learned your Dad’s lessons well because you turned out just as he expected – a great woman. My sincere condolences.

  • Alice Schmidt

    So sorry to hear of your loss, Cynthia. The love your dad had for you was obviously mirrored in your love for him. What a beautiful gift to treasure always.
    I feel your pain at the loss – wish I could hug it away for you (I lost my mother just last month and it’s hard to imagine being without the pain). It will get easier, though. You will always miss him (I still miss my father and I lost him more than 50 years ago), but your memories will be beautiful. Treasure those until you can be with him again.

  • Pat Smuck

    Cynthia, I have long admired you and your wisdom.It is ovious how much your Dad’s love and support empowered you to be the fabulous life changer you are. It is hard to name how many women will carry your father’s legacy to women all over the world through your brilliant ability. You have been blessed to have had this wonderful loving relationship. Prayers for your peace is heart. Pat

  • Lynn Edwards

    Cynthia aka Daddy’s girl,

    I so loved your gentle and caring tribute to your dad. The pictures created an opportunity for the reader to put oneself closer to your loving memories and thoughts. On a lighter note…..the changes in your hair color/style in each picture also marked a change in each of the different lessons…..to me it seemed a natural and wonderful tie in to your insights and ability to turn life experiences into something positive. I am sorry for your loss but rejoice that you had such a loving relationship and a “daddy’s girl” until he had to say good-bye. He was a gift that kept giving all these years. Keep smiling….your dad and your memories will remain forever in your heart. Thanks for sharing your beautiful story…….

  • Rita Mitchell

    Cynthia,
    You wrote a moving tribute to your dad, that I’m sure will have a healing affect on you. Lucky you, to have had such a close and fun relationship with him. Peace, to you and James.
    Rita

  • Bianca – Thank you

    Ginny – I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad your dad lives on in your heart! Big hug to you.

    Kandy – Thank you

    Adam – I had a lot of help between the Sunrise and Hospice staff – both teams were wonderful to me and dad.

    Mardy – I’m so glad you saw the joy in my writing!

    Paula – If sharing Dad’s story can help, I am honored to share.

    Karen – Thank you for your kind words.

    Cathy – I can feel your comfort. Thank you.

    Judie – I tried hard to do right by my dad. Thank you.

    Alice – I’m so sorry to hear about losing your mother last month. Big hug for you. Dad is definitely live (and sometimes loud) in my head and heart.

    Pat – What a beautiful picture you paint. I hope it is true. Thank you.

    Lynn – I love that you caught the visual story as well. Dad was a marketer who taught me to have an eye for what I wrote. Thank you for your kind words.

    Rita – I was lucky to have my dad in my life for so long. Thank you.

  • Hollis Kerler

    Cynthia,
    What a moving tribute to your Dad and your relationship. Peace and healing to you and your family during this time of grief.

    Hollis

  • Mary Charles Blakebrough

    Cynthia,
    What struck me in this loving tribute to your father are the wonderful smiles you and he had in the photographs. As if you were both filled with joy at making a difference in the world.

    Thanks for sharing how one can be a life-toucher in spite of advanced Alzheimer’s.

    Mary Charles

  • Thanks Hollis!

    Mary Charles – My dad was smiling until almost the very end. Thank you for noticing how he could light up a room.

    Cynthia

  • Sondra

    Cynthia,

    I am sorry to hear of your loss, but so inspired by what you wrote. I too was a daddy’s girl, at least that is what my family use to say. Being #6 out of 8 kids its hard to tell sometimes. I was blessed to be able to develop an even deeper relationship with my dad during the last 7 years of his life. For example I knew he always prayed first thing in the morning and last thing at night. During the last year he was not able to get down on his knees to pray, but that did not stop his prayers. He would look at the family photos on the way and pray for each person every morning and night from his chair. My dad was not perfect, but I admired all he did for his family over the years.

    I am praying for comfort and peace for you and your family.

  • Nancy

    Thank you for sharing your story. I feel joy and sadness. Joy you had each other and loved so deeply and sadness needs no explanation. Take care of yourself.
    Peace

  • Sondra, thank you for your prayers. I’m so happy you had special time with your dad. Sounds like you’ve your personal angel on your shoulder now!

    Nancy – thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad you were able to read the joy in my writing – even though I cried like a baby while writing it. Dad will always have a special forever place in my heart!

  • Rosemary

    I am so happy you had that time with your Dad and that you shared your story. I was able to have time with my brother and with my nephew and brother-in-law. It truly made a difference. I am flying out of state tonight to be with my sister who is not doing well after the loss of her husband. Your story is inspiring and I thank you for sharing. It is people like you who show others what they know in their heart to follow it.

    Warmly,
    Rosemary

  • Fran

    Reading your wise words about such an important relationship meant more to me than i can really describe. i had lost some faith in the power of love ,hope and appreciation and your words allowed me to experience some grief that i usually hold at bay and i consider that a good thing. thank you for being so powerfully open in your communication. I am grateful too for my lane friend James for reposting your words

  • Fran, thank you for reading my dad’s story. Your words touch my heart. I am honored you shared here. Means the pain of my lessons learned were not in vain. Dad would be proud of both of us. XOXO

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