Dad was 93 years old and getting very tired. He had little energy to eat or do his favorite word puzzles or jigsaw puzzles. He slept most of the time in his favorite chair. He was not in pain nor was he sick, just old. The doctor said his body was just wearing out.
August of 2010, the whole family was in Hawaii for our son’s wedding. I knew in my spirit this would be Dad’s last big celebration to see his oldest grandson marry. We did everything possible to get him to the wedding. He mustered all his energy for this event which was joyful and splendid.
I also knew in my spirit that it was time for me to say goodbye to him. Before I left Hawaii, I had a chance to be with him alone. This was fortuitous as orchestrated by the Lord. There was so much family activity there was hardly any opportunity for a discrete visit alone. When I asked if he was afraid to die, he said “No. When the good Lord says it is my time, I will go.” Dad said he was tired and his body was just worn out.
I got close to him, as he could not hear well. I told him I loved him very much. He was my hero through the years. He just smiled. Then I said, “This may be the last time I see you this side of heaven so I want to say good-bye. It’s okay to go when the Lord calls. Mom will be fine and we will look after her. You provided for her well through the years, and there is enough for the rest of her days.” He just said “ok.” Then I prayed for him thanking the Lord for having him for my Dad and asking the Lord to gently lead him home.
Dad’s last piece of business was to sell the family home. It had been two years since they moved to senior/assisted living. They would never move back. The sale would insure mom’s care. In December the house was listed for sale and it sold within a week. While under hospice care he was surrounded by the most caring and loving attendants who guided him and mom through the last days. No trauma, no drama, just gentle loving care.
On New Year’s Day of 2011, my sister called to tell me that Dad was ebbing away and that I should fly to Hawaii. Being the holiday season, the soonest flight I could get was on January 5. On January 4, my sister called again to say Dad had passed on quietly in his sleep with his beloved wife of 68 years at his side. I knew in my heart he was answering the Lord’s call to go home and my prayer for him had been answered.
Though difficult, I knew I was to say goodbye the previous August. Saying goodbye is so important and I’m glad I obeyed. If you have a loved one nearing the end of life, do not be afraid to say goodbye when the opportunity arises. It is not hurrying their passing, it is sending them on their way with a blessing. Be gracious and kindly let them go.