Our Papa spent his last few days in hospice. He lived a better life than I could ever dream of living. He created our family and has instilled his core values into each of us. He taught us that family was all that matters and in those last couple days, he proved it. In his last two days he was able to gather twenty four of us together ranging from; cousins, aunts, uncles, and even grandchildren, spanning over five different states, all deriving from him and his six kids that started it all.
Everyone was able to make it there to the hospice to see our papa, everyone but two, my brother and our cousin. Our cousin, lived in upstate New York with his wife, and they had just welcomed their new born baby into the world a day or two prior. Our Papa would much rather him, stay like he did, and be there for his family than worry about trying to get there to see him laying in his death bed. Family was the most important thing to him. It’s weird now looking back, I guess as one person leaves this world, another is welcomed right back into it.
I won’t forget his last day, my sister was the first one there that day. Since it was her day off she figured she spend it having lunch with him. Our Papa loved that he could finally eat hot dogs again, they were his favorite. Nothing like a good ole Fred’s Franks form back home. Our sister treated herself to a salad. I remember she called me before I took my lunch, saying I should come by and see Papa today. She was a nurse and her intuition was telling her that this very well could be it. She reached out to everyone that day.. She sent out an S.O.S to our mom, all of our aunts, uncles, and cousins telling them that they should all come and see Papa today. My sister the strongest one in our family and somehow was able to keep herself together through it all. She made sure she got the word out to everyone about Papa so that we all got to see him one last time. Just as quickly as she called for everyone to come and see him, everyone came flooding in.
Our family kept funneling into the hospice all day long to see him. We claimed control of half of the hospital. We occupied both conference room and the dinning hall. We shared old stories, laughs and many tears, in his spirit. In groups of each others family we filled into his room saying our good byes. The term visiting hours and allowance of number of visitors didn’t apply to us. We were here to see him and the nurse’s definitely weren’t going to turn us away.
My sister and I left to go pick up our brother, who was coming home from Amherst, after we saw Papa. He bought the first train ticket to come home and it unfortunately it wasn’t till late that Wednesday night. My sister and I got to our house before he did and in all honestly we could have used a break from the hospital. We had been there all day and figured seeing our dog Lucy inside while we waited for our brother help us cope with the whole situation. Both my sister and I moved out of our house a few months ago but when ever we walked in things were no different than from the time we lived there. Lucy came running over to us rolling onto her back, whimpering, crying, and essentially begging for us to rub her stomach like she always does.
Then our brother walked in. My sister and I were just sitting there on the rug with Lucy when he kicked oped the door and dropped his bags on the floor. Lucy then went through her whole give me attention routine crying and rolling over on my brothers feet so he’d rub her stomach too. It was maybe fifteen seconds after my brother walked in Lucy started going wild. She sprang up from the floor barking and whimpering and then started licking the three of our faces, jumping on all of our laps, and climbing all over us in a way she’s never done before.
When we finally got our back to the hospice with our, brother, our mom was first to meet us at the door. Her eyes were full of tears as she tried to tell us that our Papa, her father has passed away maybe fifteen minutes ago. The three of us looked at each other and knew, without saying a word, that’s why Lucy was acting the way she did, while we were home fifteen minutes ago. Lucy only likes to be on her back getting her stomach rubbed. But when our Papa passed away, it was almost like he took control of Lucy and personally said his last goodbyes to the three of us through her. She jumped on us as if she was hugging and kissing us like he would if he could one last time. She licked our faces, snuggled up next to us, showing us an affection none of us have ever seen. Our Papa loved Lucy, just as much as he loved us, and how great is it that we, including Lucy, were one of his last stops before he finally left us.