One year ago, after 138 days in Minneapolis, Coleson was given the green light to come home. It was a day filled with mixed emotions as we said goodbye to the Doctors that had given him a new/better life and the more than amazing friends we made along the way. During this time frame I watched my son go from a seemingly healthy boy to being totally dependent on tubes, machines and medicine to keep him alive, to a resilient survivor,
This year in the same time frame I watched my 74 year old dad go from a seemingly healthy cancer survivor to a courageous face death head-on hero to a peaceful angel. I’m not sure which was a tougher experience. As a parent, one should never have to watch their child go through what Coleson went through and yet as a child you are never old enough to watch your parent die.
I don’t know that there is a good way to die, unless you are fortunate enough to have lived a good long life, your days no longer have purpose and you pass away in your sleep. But my dad did it in about as good a way as you can. It was unexpected, yes, but not immediate like a car accident or heart attack. He had time to say several goodbyes and take care of many loose ends. It wasn't drawn out so he had little, if any suffering and we did not have to spend many days watching him digress, listening to his every breath, wondering if today would be “his day”. Once he was given the prognosis, he took matter into his own hands and I believe was in almost total control up until the very last minute. He did not want us to go through what he went through with my mother. He was at peace with his destiny, though of course he wished he could live longer, he wasn’t afraid or mad. He told me he really will miss not seeing Coleson grow up and see what he will achieve. I know that to be true with all of his grandkids, but of course, Coleson is special. I know how hard Coleson’s BMT was on him as well. You never want to watch your own child and grandchild faced with such challenges.
He passed very peacefully on Monday, October 6th at around 2:30pm. He waited until we will all there, making sure Grandma (his mother who is 99) got there so she would be with us when he passed. She had a chance to say goodbye and give him a kiss as we all had several times throughout the day. Within 5-10 minutes of us leaving Aggie in the room alone with him giving her time to say her final goodbyes and to tell him that she wanted to spend every last second with him, he took 3 quick and final breaths. It was quick and peaceful. It happened to rain that day and there was a bought of thunder just after he passed and of course we took that as his way of letting us know he was knocking on the heavenly gates. A rainbow appeared thereafter.
Of course the following days are really too busy for the immediate family to mourn, making funeral arrangements, writing obituaries, putting together picture boards and a video montage of his life. As we all went through the years of photos, I couldn’t help to think that we should have been doing this for his 75th birthday, not his funeral. I also noticed that my dad rarely took a bad photo. I wish I could say the same for me.. He had a natural and warm smile and his eyes were bright. We had a hard time narrowing it down to less than 60. Here is the video montage John Lewis Video Montage
and the funeral home tribute:
We had 2 visitations. I think I already mentioned how he thought no one would show up for his funeral but the line was out the door with friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, church members etc. What can I say about the funeral itself… I think it’s the most difficult of all the ceremonies, it marks the final goodbye. A family friend sang a very touching song, The Field Behind the Plow. www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUM8mXJre1c. He rode away in an old 1939 Cadillac Hearse, a perfect final ride for him.
I haven’t had a lot of time to really mourn since but it does find ways to creep in every now and then. As you know I live a very busy life and we have had several events in the past month including Coleson’s birthday party, the Be the Match race, several friend’s birthday parties, Halloween and preparing for this weekend’s community garage sale and Peyton’s birthday party. Also tomorrow my friends and Sole Sports are putting on another Ronald McDonald house dinner at Phoenix Children’s hospital. I think this makes 5 RMH dinner’s this year on behalf of Coleson.
I want to thank all my friends who sent flowers and plants, cards and gifts, phone calls and texts, and invited me to lunches and dinners. You are the reason why I am able to continue to face life’s big challenges, you are what keep me going day after day when it life isn’t fair, you are my strength. Someone asked me how they can help me and it really is little things like these that help me the most. And just to appreciate life and family and to show compassion for those who are less fortunate.