Monthly Archives: October 2013

Day 2…

Day 2…

Yesterday I took up the challenge to do something good for someone else every day for 2 weeks and see what the change brings about in me.

I was less than thrilled.

I felt a bit put upon, actually.  I wasn’t too busy, or too shy or non-imaginative. I was just too lazy to be bothered with putting myself out there. After all, I thought, I already do nice things all the time, don’t I?  I … I … Hmmm…. I started thinking, and realized that I don’t see enough people outside my home to really make a difference, and I take advantage of those that are in my home.

This was the perfect challenge for me!

I silently thanked my challenge-er, and went about… Worrying.  About what was a worthy way to do good in someone else’s life. I worried. And worried. I thought about it and threw away idea after idea.

I started to feel dejected and then overwhelmed.  So I took a nap. And during that nap, all my worries went away, and when I woke up, I forgot I had a task to do. I just started to think about what my would make things easier for my husband that day. He was in meetings, and on conference calls all day, and I could tell that he was tense. (He works from home.)

Without thinking about it, I cleaned up our room, made our bed, organized his shoes, ties, and clothes, and then set off to do some dishes.  Now some people do this as a matter of course. I… Do not.  But here is the thing. I didn’t do it to say LOOK AT ME!  I did it with the attitude of gratitude for what he does for our family and for me. I did it with the, what would make him happy, kind of attitude, and it wasn’t a stretch at all!  Through the day, I thought about what would make his life easier, and the dishes got done, the laundry got organized, and dinner got made.

He has no idea that I did this for him. I didn’t tell him of my experiment. I just noticed that he was more relaxed. When we got in the hot tub, he was already more relaxed than earlier that day. And… I felt recharged!

today is day 2, and I am still looking forward to doing things for my husband, but I am noticing how I have served myself. I have energized and recharged, just by putting myself out there on purpose. It’s gonna be a good few weeks.


An Update…

Dad passed away on October 7th. Just 2 weeks ago now.
In some ways, it feels like years.
In other ways, I am still in the middle of it.

I see the sunshine seeping in my parents kitchen window. It’s about 2:00 PM, and it’s just that right temperature of warm but not too warm.  I still hear dad breathing hard in the other room, from his hospice bed. He is in the very last hours, and 2 of us kids hold his hands at all times. It’s not my turn. (When it is my turn, I look forward to touching his warm skin, and looking at his face, knowing I won’t have very long to do that.) His breathing gets easier for a bit, then stops. We all count, as we have been told that an apnea can come at this time, stopping the breathing for anywhere from 15-45 seconds. …5, …10, …15, and he takes in a deep breath. We all take a breath, too, and continue our scrabble game.

Yeah, scrabble. We were playing a game while my father was dying. We had been looking over and after him for 5 days straight, and as neighbors, friends, and relatives came to say their goodbyes,  or dropping off cards and food and hugs, well at some point we just realized that it was ok to do something other than watch the man die. It didn’t mean we loved him any less. In fact, it was probably a relief for him to hear some laughter and gossip coming from the next room, like in old times. (You should probably know that dad got 5 daughters, and would lament, only half jokingly, that he had somehow upset The Lord for Him to punish dad with so many chattering, laughing, bickering daughters…)

So we went on with our game. QAT was my word, and I got it hooked to a double word score. Woot! And I did woot, right out loud.  We all looked at each other quickly, and then at dad in the other room. And our voices raised even more. It was almost a relief to remember that we were allowed to be living, while he was dying. It was odd, but during this vigil, we still ate meals, and hugged each other, and talked normally.

At first this all felt like a betrayal. How dare I sleep when I should be watching over this dying man! Right? And I could not imagine leaving his hospital bed, whether to go to the bathroom or for food, a walk outside, or to play a game of scrabble. Why should I go do these things when he could not?  I don’t know what I expected. I guess for us to be hush hush around him so he could labor in quiet…. I guess that was it.

Well, life is not tidy.

What happened instead was 8 siblings descending upon the Thornton home, from across all sorts of states, all in various stages of grieving. The one thing that didn’t happen was quiet. I was stupefied. The house of grieving flipped like a switch. We had a room of crying and whispering. A room of food prep and eating. Then we had a room of catching up and visiting. And, because we are Thorntons, that room turned into a room of laughter and loudness. In all rooms, reverence was gone.

It was the best thing that happened, in my opinion.  Where I had been moping and obsessing before, being exhausted beyond belief, there was now a life and energy renewed.  Instead of literally watching a man die to death, we provided a father and husband with family living and celebrating his life all around him.

We played board games in the kitchen, just a few feet from where his hospice bed was set up.  We played the piano where he could hear his favorite songs. We put Pandora on the iPad and let him listen to the “Tabernacle Choir” channel because he loved the music so much. And it worked

Whatever IT was.

IT spread through the house gradually. Through each room of sadness, IT seeped in and smiled the sadness away. Oh.  The IT was… Peace.

Peace spread through the house and household. It made it ok for us to laugh or cry. It made it ok for us to sleep in, or stay up all nigh with our sweet dad. Peace made it ok for dad to rally at the end, for us.  He came out of the labored sleep he was in, and acknowledged those who were there in the house. He said he loved hearing the music. He touched our faces and let the little ones give him kisses or high fives. He loved our laughter and talking which, he said, just sounded like LOVE.

And that was when I let go of the process looking a certain way.  I was not in charge, and neither was anyone else. Dad’s death was between him and The Lord. My only responsibility was to be part of the peace and love that was family.  And so I did.

He passed away peacefully, between one breath and another, with family around him.




I’m not ready to say goodbye yet, but here it is. It is time to say goodbye. The gift you have given to me is that it was gradual. I get to say thank you, along with the goodbye. Thank you for teaching me tennis. Thank you for giving me lecture 47, about everything from cleaning my room to having a fight with mom, and then turning it into a life lesson. Thank you for getting down on your knees to wrestle with me, and play horsey with me, and pray with me. Thank you for playing the only song on the piano that you know, and doing it well. At least the first part. Thank you for dinners together, and basketball games on saturday mornings. Thank you for teaching me the old man shuffle when running was too fast for me, at age 9. Thank you most for loving me, believing in me, and never giving up on me.

Thank you for instilling in me a desire to be more than just me. To be part of something bigger.. Greater. Thank you for teaching me to expect and give respect. Thank you for never raising your voice or your hand to me. Thank you for showing me how I should be treated as a wife and mother. And thank you for showing me what a father should be like.

I get to say my thank you’s along with my goodbye’s, but also my I love you’s. So here is an I love you…

I love that you didn’t like Ketchup, only Catsup. I love that you would sit with me out on the porch and watch the birds, and the neighbors, and the cars roar by. I love that you let me watch you milk the cows all those early mornings, and even tried to teach me how to milk one. I never got the hang of it, but you didn’t lose your patience. Not once.  I love that you made up the game, Balloon Volley Ball for our Family Home Evening game times. I love that it turned into a neighborhood favorite. I love that you built the addition on to our home big enough that Balloon Volleyball fit so well in our family room. I love that you aged so well. You look great with a bald head. Like Jean Luke Picard.  I love that you loved mom so well and so deeply. And I love that you loved us 8 kids so completely.  We were your life.

All these Thank You’s and I Love You’s I get to say to you silently as I patted your cheek one last time. As I held your warm hand. As I kissed you on your forehead. Almost a goodbye. But not yet. And I am grateful, Your last breath is your first step into your next life, and I envy you your journey. But still. Still, I am not ready to say goodbye.

Not yet. So I just hold your hand while the hospice nurse is called. I look at your peaceful face when mom needs to be close to you. And still I can’t say goodbye. When the mortuary tenderly and respectfully brings your body to the facility to be readied for the funeral, I know you are gone, but can’t say goodbye. The viewing is hard, because your sweet presence is gone from the body that is in the casket.  I know that.

It isn’t until now, when the man in the suit is ready to close the lid of the casket, and asks that any of us that want to come by your body to say the last goodbye, that I realize that this is it. This is the moment that, whether or not I am ready, I have to…need to…say goodbye.

And so I say goodbye silently.

Goodbye to the past heartaches and pain. Goodbye to Cancer. Goodbye to awful pills and hospital beds and walkers with tennis balls on them. Goodbye to all that. And Thank You for all of who you are and have been. And I love you for being strong through this last part.


Goodbye for now.


Tags: , , ,

I Got To Shave His Face…

His face was soft, yet rough with whiskers. Up close, his blue eyes stared at me or through me, I couldn’t tell, but here I was, with the electric razor humming softly.

What a mundane thing. My husband hates to do it. I think most men do. But shaving a face is an intensely personal thing. I realized this today when the opportunity came up to aid my dad in doing those things that he can no longer do for himself. He is in the last days of cancer. He is skin and bones. He is weak. And… He needed a shave. He could not lift his arms on his own but barely, and he wanted his face shaved. I know this because when my mom asked if it was time to shave off that scruffiness, he put his hand to his chin and jaw, rubbed it, and shook his head. That was when my mom decided he needed a shave anyway, and brushing of his teeth to boot, to make him feel better.

I didn’t know how these two things would be managed, but my mom always makes the unlikely… Possible.  So she came back from the kitchen with all the essentials for teeth brushing, and by George, he held his toothbrush for a minute! I know it made him feel cleaner. Then it was time to shave, but the effort of brushing his teeth had worn him out. So mom started shaving him with the electric shaver.  She wasn’t able to do it long, as she was missing spots and almost giving up. Odd that. So I asked if I could finish up. She said I could. I was nervous because I never have shaved anyone before.

so there I was, concentrating on his face and hoping fervently that I wouldn’t nick him.  I had never noticed the look of patience that came over him until I had finished his chin. Then I looked, really looked, and saw that he had faith that I wouldn’t hurt him. I saw gratitude and patience on his face, and I realized also that I had tears streaming down my face. I love this man so much.

I finished up, but I couldn’t stop looking at his face. He smiled and so did I. And then the moment was over. But it had been enough. I will remember that experience for a lifetime.

He is almost gone, now, and cannot respond to us. He is on his journey to the next adventure. He struggles to breath, and I know it will be soon. But I know and remember how great he is, and I have a lot of memories with him, but will remember the rare ones of his time just with me. He has influenced my life and shaped it, and I thank him for this last gift.

i love you dad. Thank you.

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 4, 2013 in Life

%d bloggers like this: