Monday, July 27, 2009
I recently wrote that my patient was pursuing his dream of going to Arizona one last time with his wife. We were waiting for Dream Foundation to process the paperwork. His wife started to feel like they needed to leave July 8 because she thought he was starting to slip and because she had a commitment later in the month. Instead of waiting on DF, she was somehow able to mobilize resources through their church and rent a van. They left on July 8 as they planned, along with their daughter, son in law, and a grandson. I'm sad to report that the patient died while he was in AZ. The wife told me that he started getting agitated while they were driving and then he fell at a rest stop. He quickly declined after that. She said she's not sure if he was able to enjoy the Grand Canyon or anything else they saw in AZ because he was declining. We ended up having to discharge him from our hospice and a hospice in Phoenix oversaw his final days. The wife told me that he was able to talk to her in his final moments and seemed to be at peace. She thinks he did know that he made it to AZ, even if he wasn't able to fully appreciate it. I went to his funeral this morning. It was a beautiful tribute to his life. So many people shared stories about his servant heart, adventurous driving skills, and love for his family, as well as the Chicago White Sox (you can see how we bonded!) A friend made t-shirts for everyone with the Sox logo on the front, the patient's last name and birth year on the back, and a Celtic logo and verse from Psalm 15 on one sleeve. What a neat idea! The honor guard was there as he had served for 13 years combined with the Marines, Army, and Air Force. He tried to reenlist for a 4th time after 9/11 but he was told he was too old- well, he was in his 50s by then. I've never been at a funeral service with the honor guard before. It was already a moving service but it seemed like we collectively cried as the flag was saluted and folded, then presented to the widow. This man was saluted as having ultimate patriotism but what also stuck out was his undying faith in Jesus Christ. There was much reflection that he is in a better place now and the service was a celebration of his life and of his transition to heaven. I was glad I was able to attend the service. The other highlight was that their beloved dog Murphy was there! I adore that dog and I will miss seeing him every week, as well as seeing his owners.