Thursday, April 9, 2020

CORONAVIRUS AND A FUNERAL...

The week after Dad passed away was very stressful.  It was the week that the Coronavirus really started to take off on Australian shores and suddenly we were faced with almost daily changes...

By the weekend after Dad's passing, the Government imposed bans on the numbers of people able to gather together..  We were limited to gatherings of no more than 500 people.  This was not going to affect us for Dad's funeral.  We did expect a rather large funeral though as Dad had lived a fairly high profile life, first as a GMH dealer and ran one of the most successful dealerships in Australia.  He had also traveled to GMH in Detroit to attend a management school there and was a training dealership when he arrived home especially in the implementation of computers into Dealerships.

He had also served as the Mayor of Bundaberg so had lots of connections to this town.  He was the Chairman of the Wide Bay Electricity Board as well as a stint as National President of Gideon's International and not just that he went to a large church where he was well known.  Lots of folk had rung indicating that they wanted to be at Dad's funeral.  We had people wanting to fly in from interstate and lots of folk from Bundaberg had indicated that they were planning to attend..

By the Wednesday before the funeral, and after the funeral notice had gone into the paper advertising his funeral and time, the Government bought in new restrictions.  Now we were limited to only 100 people at any gathering.  This changed things for Dad's funeral and meant we had to try and get word out there that now his funeral was going to be restricted to just immediate family and his sibling's family..  I know in the great scheme of things this is a small problem, but at the time,  I felt pretty gutted that we couldn't give Dad the send off he deserved and we were having to restrict so many people from coming to pay their respects....

Oh how thankful I am today though for this small mercy,  as things were about to take an even more drastic turn of events a couple of days after Dad's funeral with even stricter measures coming in.

Another good friend of ours passed away the morning of Dad's funeral and her funeral was due to be held the following Friday... With the new measures in place as of Monday 23th March, the numbers attending funerals had been reduced to 10 people.  Not even all of her children and their families could attend.

The week before Dad's funeral was raw... so many emotions.... so many changes... Our funeral director was a good friend of Dad's and came out of retirement to do Dad's funeral... a beautiful man, and he had his wife in a nursing home as she has Dementia.  With the new restrictions coming in, the nursing homes were going into lock down and he was unable to spend his days by his wife's side.  This was a distressing time for him.  We had organised a light luncheon for after Dad's funeral... this all had to be scrapped and something else arranged.  The phone constantly rang,  the Council in Bundaberg, the News Mail wanting information on Dad to do a story,  friends and family,  so much so that it was impossible to get some down time to even get my thoughts together.   There were nights I just cried... the raw emotions of missing my Dad, never seeing his beautiful face again,  the sadness at not being able to have the funeral for him we wanted to have (considering he had pretty much organised the bulk of it) trying to set up a life stream of the funeral for those that couldn't attend... so many changes each day...

There was another part of me though that was happy that Dad did not have to live through all these changes... He didn't have to live an isolated life....   All the things that he enjoyed doing,  all the places each day and week were all shut down... Because of his age, he would not be able to have visitors... His lonely life would have gotten so much lonelier...

So whilst there is a lot of sadness there is also a  ton of gratitude and thankfulness that Dad did not live to see these enormous changes to the fabric of our lives, and that his last days on this earth were spent being surrounded by those he loved and those that loved him... A week later this would not have been allowed to have happened...  I am also so thankful that he was covered in prayer by not only those that loved him but also a beautiful young Christian nurse that God had placed on his ward to not only bless and comfort Dad but us his family also....

God is still faithful... in fact when looking back, we have all been blessed so much and I am truly in awe of the goodness we have experienced in our lives particularly in relation to the passing of both our parents... Blessed beyond measure I would say............................

Monday, April 6, 2020

A DEVASATING WEEK...

I had a lovely chat to my Dad on the 5th March...
He had a routine doctor's visit and was given a clean bill of health..
In fact they even renewed his license for another 12 months. I was a little concerned about this and had a conversation with my sister a couple of days later where we spoke about talking to Dad about it being the last time we thought he should renew it.  These were conversations we were going to have with him over the coming year...

On Sunday evening just after 10.30pm, I got a phone call from my younger sister informing me that Dad was not well... in fact he was quite sick so she had called an ambulance to have him taken to hospital.  She indicated that he hadn't been sleeping and he had rung her to get him some sleeping tablets from the chemist for him.  When she arrived he was quite weak and asked her if she could sleep down there with him that night... something he has never asked her to do before....  It took both her and her husband to get Dad from his lounge into his bedroom....

She left Dad there to sleep whilst she drove her husband home and packed a little bag to stay overnight with Dad... When she arrived back, he was quite sick and vomiting and she found out that he had been doing this for the past 36 hours...  She immediately called the ambulance and had him admitted at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.

Dad was very dehydrated and so he was put on a drip to rehydrate, although the doctors were very concerned about his kidney function...

Anyway, Lea rang me when she got home from the hospital to let me know that she thought we should come down and see him as she had never seen him this low before...
This news I took seriously because out of all of us girls, she is the most laid back, so I figured that if she thought we should come home than this was serious and we should pack up and go...

We were both under a lot of pressure at work and so felt we needed to at least head into work to organise classes for the week ahead especially since we planned to be away.  I was keen to just drop into work and then keep going,  Steve felt he needed a little more time there to put some work into place for his classes... Lea assured us that when she spoke to the doctors the following morning that if the news was not good she would ring us and we would head straight away or otherwise we would leave straight after school and head down....

Whilst the doctor was concerned about kidney function the following morning, the initial response was that they would have him on a drip and see if the situation would  correct itself and he was quite comfortable.  As we had our bags already packed we decided to stay at work and head off after work to head down to see Dad.

We had only packed to stay for a couple of days.  We were pretty tired as we were up till well after midnight the night before trying to get packed and organised in case we were needed to head off very early in the morning...  We got to Bundaberg and decided to stay with my other sister and her husband and then take her with us to the Sunshine Coast the following morning.  She packed to spend extra time with Dad, as the plan was for her to stay with Dad once he was released from hospital and care for him until he got his strength back again...

We left pretty early on Tuesday morning so that we would be on the coast by mid morning....
By the time we got to Maryborough we got the devastating news from my younger sister informing us that Dad's condition was terminal.  In fact he had a total bowel obstruction and without surgery he was unable to survive.  Dad on the other hand did not want the surgery.   He was ready to go home to be with his Creator and his Margaret.  This was quite devastating for us girls, but we understood as he had been pretty lonely...

The rest of the trip to the Sunshine Coast and long and sobering and we arrived mid morning.. We quickly dropped off our gear at the house on our way to the hospital and it really hit me as I walked in the front door just how suddenly all this happened because Dad's book was still open on the table with his pencil in it with a puzzle he had only half completed... This actually bought tears to my eyes.

Just as he had left it on his dining room table....

 By the time we got to the hospital ( it is HUGE) and found our way around and got up to Dad's room, I must admit, it all hit me as I had never seen my strong capable father this weak before either so it was a bit of a shock.  He was totally with it but found talking exhausting.   He was still trying to organise us and give us information about what he wanted for his funeral.  This was not something we wanted to deal with at the time.... All rather distressing.  We also managed to be there for one of the doctor's visits.  He had a good talk to Dad and made sure that Dad understood that without the surgery he would not survive and Dad understood this and informed him that his time was up and he had lived a wonderful live and was ready to go home to meet his Creator and be united with his Margaret....  As I talked to the doctor outside of his room, he did inform me, that the surgery that they would have to perform on Dad was quite invasive and he really doubted that Dad would come through it especially seeing how weak he was at the present time...  I also asked him how much time we had left with Dad and he indicated only days....
Dad with his girls
The next thing we needed to do was contact all our children to let them know that if they wanted to say goodbye to their Grandpa they needed to come now rather than later.  This was particularly hard news for both our son Peter who lived on the other side of the world and was in lock down with the Corona virus and our niece Tamika who was oversea in Tanzania volunteering as a nurse in one of the hospitals there.  She was broken hearted as she had just left the country a few days earlier.

Both of our girls were there the following days and had some precious time with Dad where they were able to tell him just how much they loved and valued him and why and he was able to affirm his total love for them.  I am so very thankful and grateful for this time we had with him.  So precious, and such a gift...

Jude had rung her husband John to tell him to come and He and Zac arrived on Wednesday afternoon also.

I am so thankful for the gift of Tuesday and Wednesday with Dad.. He was with us,  he knew what we were talking about and although he didn't talk a lot you could see in his smiles and the words he did use that he was comforted in having us all with him...  It was a precious time...
It was also good that we were able to not only Pete, Maria and Theo were able to face-time with Dad and say their goodbyes, but my niece Tamika and Dad's only sister Joan were also able to talk to him via face time and say their goodbyes.  So thankful for technology these days also....
My Dad was very much with us.... so blessed to have this man as our Dad...
  Wednesday truly was  a gift and even as I went home that afternoon I did wonder whether the doctors had got it wrong as Dad seemed to almost look a lot better.  His colour had certainly improved from when we had first arrived.  He did however, ask me to take his mobile phone home as he said he would not be needing it anymore... I wanted to leave it with him but he was adamant that he had taken care of everything and it was not needed.

Sarah was to head back to Brissie tonight but had decided to stay on now and her beautiful sister in law offered to drive up from Brissie and pick up her children and take them home to look after them.  She is such a blessing to Sarah and in the end Chloe and Sarah met her in Caboolture with the children for a handover...  I particularly was very thankful to have them close by for support...

What a shock Thursday morning was.  We didn't go up until mid morning as both my sisters had children arriving this morning to see Dad, and as my girls had spent a good amount of time with him the following day, we thought we would give the others an opportunity to have some time with him first...

I could not believe how much Dad had deteriorated over night,  he was aware that we were there with him, and would even hold our hand a little tighter and when someone prayed for him, he would would make a noise as if to say "Amen" but for most of the time, he was just in a deep sleep.  I struggled to see him this way and I guess I was still grappling with the fact that Dad was dying.  I think you always think your parents are invincible and will always be there for you.  It was hard to terms with the fact that we were about to loose the only parent we had left...



For most of the morning and early afternoon, there was a constant stream of visitors sitting with Dad.  We were fortunate that the hospital had a lounge that we were all able to congregate in and the grandchildren took turns at visiting and sitting with Dad....



I can't remember the last time that all the cousins were together like this.  Had it been any other time, it would have been such a great event to see them all spending time together...  How blessed we all were that this happened in the week that it did, as a few weeks later none of us would have been able to be here to say our goodbyes to Dad.



I am so thankful for my wonderful husband and beautiful girls who have totally been my rock this week.  I don't know how I would have got through this week without their support....

 By 2.30pm, we could see that Dad was going downhill fast.  My sister Lea was having difficulty seeing Dad like this and whilst she didn't want him to be alone, felt that she couldn't stay and see him go downhill further.  Jude and I were there for the long haul.  We were not going to let Dad stay alone...
Use three girls
We were concerned about whether the grandchildren should still be here.. and gave them the option to leave now if they felt they needed too.  They had all been to see Dad and had their chance to tell him just how much they loved him.. He had also had the opportunity to let them know they were loved also.
Sarah, Chloe and Hannah all wanted to remain and took turns at sitting with both Jude and I for the afternoon.


My second cousin Lloyd who is also one of the Pastor's at Dad's church, wanted us to let him know when the end was coming as he wanted to come up and pray with Dad one last time.   By 3pm, Steve felt it was time to ring Lloyd.  Lloyd really loves my Dad,  he has been one of the most influential men in his life...  He was away at a Pastor's retreat up at Maleny, so it meant a lot to us that he wanted to be there for Dad...

One of the other gifts we received that afternoon was in the way of a staff member at the hospital.  The staff at the hospital were amazing... so thoughtful and so caring towards Dad.  They did mention to us that he must be a rather special man as they rarely see so many family members who want to be there at the end...  We had to agree that yes he was a very special man...

The very special moment we encountered was with a student nurse who wanted to ask a very personal question.. She wanted to know if Dad was a Christian and had a faith.  We assured her that he did and that he was ready to go home to meet his Creator, Lord and Saviour.  She told us she just knew it she could tell by the peace he had about dying and could also see it in the love within the family.

In the hour before Dad passed away, she gave us the greatest gift by asking us if she could pray for Dad.  She prayer over him, the most beautiful prayer, committing him to the Lord,  praying for peace, no pain and that his passing would come swiftly.  Dad was gone within a half hour of Kerryn praying for him.  She will never know how much of a gift and blessing she was to us at this very difficult time for us. 
Privileged to hold my wonderful Dad's hand to the very end..

In the end Dad went very quickly.  We really weren't ready for it.  We thought we would have had a few more days with him, but he was ready and he was surrounded by those that loved him dearly...
I am so grateful and feel so blessed that we were with Dad, that we were able to shower him with love and that his passing was peaceful and went swiftly,  but what a HUGE GAPING hole he is going to leave in all our lives.... Where to from here...

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

PICNIC UP ON MT. ARCHER.....

The first weekend in March saw us join other folks from our church for a picnic lunch up on the top of Mt. Archer. 

It was such a lovely day and in the business of life it was so nice to take some time out and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine...

 This gorgeous little boy kept us well entertained.  Such a happy little man and growing up way too quickly...
 As we were about to leave,  a group of bikers came up the mountain... Some of their bikes were very impressive....

 I think it would be pretty cool to go on a spin on one of these bikes....

BEVAN'S BIRTHDAY.....

Once again I am slipping behind catching up with life on our frontline....
March has been a shocking month... one I don't want to experience again in a hurry... in fact this whole year has been a tough one.... so far there has been a major disaster every month with this month being the worse...

On a happier note though, our good friend Bevan only gets to legitimately celebrate his birthday once every four years so this year to celebrate a group of us got together and threw him a Birthday BBQ.

It was a great night with close friends and church family attending....

Happy Birthday Bevan...

Little did we know when this photo was taken how drastically our lives were about to change in the next few weeks....

Monday, March 2, 2020

ANOTHER STUNNING SUNSET AGAIN THIS WEEKEND.....

We enjoyed another amazing Sunset last night...
God's handiwork is amazing....
Even managed to catch a photo of some lightning striking as well.

 And then we got to catch this bolt of lightning on sunset....
Beautiful evening....
Managed to catch a bolt of lightning...
And then to come home and see the this beautiful plants flowering in our garden just capped off the end to a beautiful day....

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