Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Saying Goodbye To My Biggest Fan

Out of all the people who read my blog, I would have to say that my Dad is my biggest fan. A few years ago he got an iPad and he straight away wanted me to set it up so that my blog page was on his home screen. 

Mum and Dad live an hour from us so we usually see them at least once every few weeks - sometimes more. If we hadn't seen them for a while, Dad would tell me how much he loved reading my blog, and seeing what we were all up to. 

When we all joined up on a Instagram, Dad also wanted to join up.  Not so that he could post pics, but so he could see photos of his kids and grandkids regularly.  Whenever I would talk to him the first thing he wanted to talk about was what I had blogged about or my Instagram photos. 

He would always say 'I love reading your blog' and would make us laugh when he would quote things from it. He would say things like 'we are not counting the days, but making the days count'. 

He would always ask me what I was going to blog about next, and would sometimes even suggest things for me to post on my blog. 

Dad has had health problems his whole life but lately it seems like it's been one thing after another.  He started to lose his hearing and was diagnosed with a benign tumour in his brain. Because they did a scan to figure out what was going on, they also discovered at the time that he has hydrocephalus - too much fluid in his brain. 

He actually felt a little bit chuffed that he had something similar to Noah. I kept having to explain that he had excess fluid and Noah's brain had been replaced with fluid, but he loved that they had something in common. He had a shunt placed which helped to drain the fluid away, but it didn't always work well and he often had to have it adjusted. 

I've always given Dad hair cuts and it always made my tummy squirm when I could feel the shunt on his head. He thought it was funny that it made me feel sick. 

Dad was diagnosed with dementia just over 5 years ago. We knew Dad wasn't right for a while, and once he got the diagnosis we understood why.  We were told that the hydrocephalus was the cause of early onset of dementia.  If that wasn't enough we also found out that he had a major heart condition, that was going to shorten his life. 

For the last few years, Dad has not been the Dad we remember growing up. He was always such a hard worker. Suddenly he just wanted to sleep a lot, he became very frail very quickly, and his personality changed. 

Mum has been doing a great job of caring for him on her own, and over the last couple of years has had to have more help by having people come and spend time with him in their home, to give her a break. 

A few months ago Dad was really sick with a chest infection. He was so sick that we actually thought he was going to die. He got over the infection and not long after that Mum and Dad came to visit. Mum walked in first and said 'something's happened to your Dad! He's back to normal! He won't stop talking, he walking so fast I can't keep up with him and he won't sleep!'.  Dad came in and I could see straight away the big change in him. 

We aren't sure what had happened, but for the last couple of months Dad has been on a massive high. He had been talking so much, and all of a sudden he could remember things that he had forgotten for many years. Dad has always been quiet - even more so once he got dementia, but all of a sudden we couldn't shut him up.  

Dad not only had energy, but he had more energy than he had in years. He started to make a 'bucket list' of things he wanted to do but he told us it was called his 'wish list'. He had places he wanted to go. 

He just wanted to go to the cemetery to visit graves, to my Pop's river flats where we spent all our time when we were young, to Bridport, to Binalong Bay, to Wineglass Bay (which we told him wouldn't be happening because the hike was too hard for him, but we could drive to Coles Bay) and to Noah's memorial garden at school

He also started to write down all the things he could remember from his life - names of people and dates of events, girls he had crushes on, friends he had at school and things he could remember about his family. 

He had a little note book that he wrote everything in and whenever we visited he would pull it out and would read us his latest entries. He told us he was writing a book about his life and was sure it was going to be a best seller. We would laugh when he would tell us that was sure he was going to make enough money off it to send Mum and I to the USA for a holiday. 

Some days I would visit and he would tell me to come into his bedroom as he had some things to share with me. He would tell me that he has been getting visits from his Dad and Aaron, and asked me what I thought about it.  He was so happy that they were around and kept saying that when he did die they would be there to meet him.   He kept writing all these things down for his book. 

When I would ask him when he would like to die, he would say that he was ready, but really would like to live till he's 70.   We knew that with his heart condition that he probably wasn't going to make it that long, and Dad also knew it.  He's 62 at the moment.

Last week Mum and Dad came with my brother Jared to pick up some things to take back for their new home, which they've been building.  I heard Mum mention that maybe Dad would stay with my sister in law Becky while they came to get the load, but I said why don't they bring Dad in while they pick it up, and he could hang out with me for an hour or so. I remembered him saying he wanted to visit Noah and Aaron's graves and Noah's memorial garden at school, so that's what we did. 
Dad was so happy to go there with me and we decided to pick some flowers from Noah's garden to take to the cemetery. 
It had rained the night before so I ended up getting wet as I tried to get some flowers. Dad cracked me up when he said 'do you want me get a photo of you all wet so you can instagram it?' :)   He sat down on Noah's bench and said 'here you go - get a photo of this!' and looked so proud and happy sitting there. 
We then headed to the cemetery and he was so happy to be there. He said 'which one will we visit first?'. I said Aaron as he was the closest to the road and Dad went over and started talking to him straight away. 'Hi there Aaron - what are you up to? What did you always call me? That's right...Nickel Ass! (My Dad's name is Nicholas, but he's called Nick most is the time) and I used to call you 'pretty boy.  We miss you so much, Lisa and the boys miss you so much. I wonder what you're up to up there?'.  
He lovingly put flowers in the vase for him and loved that some petals fell over his plaque and then we headed to Noah's grave.  
At Noah's grave he started talking again and then read what we put on his plaque 'we were blessed to have ten years with our monkey, who taught us to not count the days, but to make them count'.  As Dad finished saying the sentence he started sobbing. When we were little it was very usual to see any kind of emotion from Dad, but the last couple of months he has laughed and cried more than I've seen my whole life. 
We then went to visit Aaron's Nan and Pop's graves and he had a little chat to them before we went home to my place.  Once we got home Dad asked me for the broom and he was so happy, sweeping the paths outside for me, talking to the guys doing some work out the front, and even wanted to do a bit of gardening.  We hadn't had Dad like that for so long, so it was nice to see Dad enjoying working outside again. 

The next day I remember pulling into the driveway and commenting about how nice the front yard looked since Grandpa worked on it. 

Last Monday Dad had a fall and went to hospital by ambulance to get checked out, because he wasn't responding for a little while.  At the hospital a scan discovered that he had a massive bleed in his brain which had caused the fall, and he was flown by air ambulance to Hobart.  
The doctors thought that the bleed was caused by the shunt draining too much, so they adjusted the shunt and hoped that doing that help the blood clear as well, and decided to wait to do surgery.  They knew that surgery would be very risky - not only because it was brain surgery, but because of his heart condition.  

We drove down the next morning to see him and he was very chatty and so happy to see us.  When we walked in he said 'here they are! Come and give me a really, really big hug' as he lent over to give me a hug. He was very chatty and on his usual high he had been on for the last couple of months and was happy to have my brother Jared and sister in law Becky, visiting as well. 

He was so happy to see the boys and straight away got on his iPad and opened up Instagram to ask them about our latest photos I had put up. He wanted to know all the details about what was going on in the photos and called over one of the nurses to show him the photos. 
He asked the nurse if he had met me, and introduced me. I joked with the nurse that I was his favourite child, and Dad cheekily put his hand up like he was telling him a secret and said 'my real favourite child is in Melbourne!'. I cracked up laughing and told him off and then he said 'no you're my favourite one today because you're here'. 

He then asked me what my latest blog post was about, as he hadn't checked it for a few days and couldn't get the Internet at the hospital. I told him I had blogged about going on dates and he said 'there were some single men on the plane down here' which cracked me up as he knows I never want to date or get remarried, but he's always joking with me about getting married again.  

I got my blog up on my phone for him and showed him photos from our trip to Swansea and my dates with the boys.  He then said how sad he was that he was in hospital as he was supposed to be going on a trip to Binalong Bay with his brother Tom.  He said he wanted to go there and put his feet in the sand and talk to Aaron, as it was where he spent his last day.   The Friday before he was so happy to go to my Pop's river and to visit his brother Kim with my Uncle Jim. 

Dad said to the nurse 'ask her what's happened to her husband!'.  We are used to Dad now and the nurses knew he has dementia so I told him that he could fill him in over the next few days. Dad made me laugh though when he said 'no you tell him, it's an interesting story'. The poor nurse was so lovely as I told him that Aaron had passed away. Dad laughed as he told him it was on Australia Day and how unAustralian Aaron was. 

The nurse was from Hong Kong and Dad asked him how often he went back, and asked if he would take him on his next trip. The nurse was so lovely and said 'why not!' which made Dad happy, even though Dad knew it wasn't really possible. 

We stayed the night in Hobart and went to see Dad again the next day. In the morning he was quite chirpy and seemed good, but after we let him rest and went back in the afternoon he couldn't remember Harri and Kobe's names. He knew who they were, but kept calling Harri 'Jalen' and even called him 'Kaden' at one stage.  We had to laugh, because you either laugh or you cry. 

Even though Dad had dementia he had always remembered everyone.  It was sad knowing that the bleed was affecting him, but he didn't seem too worried about it - he would just chuckle as we tried to help him remember.  
Before we left Dad joked with the boys that he had some 'parting words' to give them, just in case he didn't make it through surgery (if he had to have it). He looked at Kobe and said 'now you know that thing you like to play?'. I said 'cricket?' and Dad said 'yes, when you play cricket you have to remember to be a good....' and couldn't think of the next word. I said 'sport?' and he said that was it.

He looked at Harri and said 'you have to help Kobe to be good okay? You have to teach him'. He then looked at Jalen and asked him what the missionaries names from church are at the moment. Jay told him their names and Dad said 'you should spend a lot of time with them. They're good fellas and will teach you a lot'. 
He then said he had one more thing to give them and put his hand in his pocket. I thought he was going to pull out his wallet but he pulled out a comb and started brushing each of their hair! We couldn't stop laughing and Dad was cracking up saying 'you won't forget this will you!'. He then came over to me and started brushing mine. It was nice just seeing Dad so happy so I let him go, and he kept saying 'you have beautiful hair! It's no wonder Aaron loved you!', which made us all laugh. 
He then put his arms around my shoulders and said 'oh I LOVE you! I really love you'.  Dad is not known to tell us that very often, so it was lovely to hear. 
He wanted to see if Jalen was almost taller than him and loved that it's not going to be long till he is. 
We gave him hugs and kisses goodbye and as I walked out the door, I had a feeling as I looked back at him that it would be the last time I would see him like that. 
The next day he had surgery under a local anaesthetic as the doctors were worried he wouldn't cope with a general. He came through surgery with flying colours and Mum said he was even more talkative than before - if that was even possible!  She said he kept saying 'it's great to be alive!', over and over again.  He even asked Mum to write down all the nurses names and take their photos to add them to his book :) 

My brother Eden and sister in law Steph got to see Dad after his surgery and said how great he was, and that he said so many lovely things to them.  We were all very relieved and a little shocked that he had come through surgery so well.  I think most of us were probably expecting him to not make it through it.  

He spent the night in ICU and next morning Mum got a phone call to say that Dad had been having seizures for an hour. Because of Dad's heart condition and dementia he had decided that he didn't want to have any intervention or life support if anything ever happened to him.  He wanted Mum to make sure the doctors knew that before he went into surgery and had signed papers to say so.  

When Mum got to the hospital Dad was in a coma.  A scan showed that the fluid had built up in his head and had caused a catastrophic brain injury. We knew that if Dad was to come out of the coma that he would have brain damage. 

He also has pneumonia and as a family we knew that Dad wouldn't want any more intervention.  He has now been under palliative care for two days and my whole family have been here, as we wait for Dad to pass away.  It's so nice to all be together again, but it's for such a sad reason.
We are spending the days sitting around his bedside as all the cousins play together, and we laugh as we share funny stories about Dad and cry as it's so hard to imagine life without him. 

We have been told that it may be between 3 to 7 days before he passes away, and as much as we don't want him to go, we also hope that he doesn't hold out that long because it's so hard to see him like this. He's not suffering, but it's like he's already gone.  We joked that he would go on Australia Day like Aaron, but it has been and gone and he's still holding on. 
We keep talking to him and giving him messages that we are getting from people, and we hope that he is hearing the things we are telling him.  People have been so kind to all of us and we have been blessed with lots of food being dropped off for the whole family and places to stay.  
It's sad to know that Mum will be moving into their new house on her own, but we can also see that Dad has been getting prepared for this. He would often go between saying how excited he was to work in the new garden, but would then say he wouldn't be moving into the new house. 
Just a couple of week ago he bought my sister Nicki and I a present each, which he got the shop to gift wrap. He has never bought me a present in my life. Mum was always the one who bought us things. He told me it was for Valentine's Day but I could open it then if I wanted. It was a little plaque with a lovely saying about daughters on it, and I remember at the time thinking that it will be something that I will always treasure. It means so much to me now to know that Dad picked it out for me. 

He has been talking a lot about how his Mum and Dad, Aaron and Noah and my brother Daniel, will all be there to meet him when he goes and imagining what their reunions will be like makes me so happy. I just wish that all of us could be together right now. 


  1. I can only imagine how incredibly proud your father is to have you as a daughter. You are so strong and loyal to your family. I am sorry that your father is passing. I hope you and your family find peace.

  2. So sorry to read about your dad. He will be in a better place and enjoying Aaron and Noah's company again. You are all in my thoughts and prayers

  3. Lisa,

    Even though we don't know eachother, I have loved reading your blog the past few years. I am so sorry about your father. It does seem like a special blessing that he had the past few months to experience life and make some special memories for you all. Please know that your family will be in our thoughts and prayers.

  4. Your Dad sounds like a wonderful man. Thinking of you all as you spend this precious time with your Dad and for the days ahead xx

  5. Lisa - what wonderful photos of your dad at the memorial and the cemetery, and combing everyone's hair! It did make me laugh reading all the funny things he had been saying. I am so sorry for your circumstances, but I am also happy that God gave him back to you for a short time, so you could make some wonderful memories before he goes. I will be praying for your family and especially for your mom.

    With love from the USA

  6. Beautifully written, Lisa. Thank you for sharing your heart. Praying for you and your family.

  7. You have a wondergul gift of words. Feeling for you and all your family at this time. God Bless

  8. Lisa, you don't know me, but I've been reading your blog for a few years now. I am so sorry for your loss (to be), but thank you for sharing with us what made your dad so special, and the funny and loving memories he made for you - love the image of him combing the boys' hair. Thinking of you all.

  9. love your post, it made me cry. Your family have been so blessed to have this time to say goodbye, as Dereks passing happened so quick and he wasn't ready to leave us ,he even said he wanted to be around longer. I just love your dad and have been remembering him while in Del ward and especially while he was in the bishopric love Jen

  10. Lisa, you have been through so much. My prayers are with all of you at this time.

  11. Lisa, you have been through so much. I am remembering all of you in prayer now.


  12. What a beautiful tribute to your Dad. Praying for you and your family during this time.

  13. So heart-wrenching and yet uplifting to read these beautiful words. I was laughing and crying throughout your post - sometimes both at the same time. I love your dad. Such a gentle and kind person...and such a stirrer in his final days. Nicki was telling me he wanted to come hang out with me on a trip to Melbourne. It cracked us up but I felt touched to be thought of. Brings back so many memories as your dad shared parting words and is now in palliative care with all his loved ones by his side. My heart is with you and you are all in my prayers. Heaps of love, Mel xx

  14. You have such a gift for writing. What a beautiful post...thank you for letting so many people see it. I'm so sorry for the hole that will be left in your family.

  15. Thinking of you and your whole family at this time. Sending you my prayers...
    Nicola in nz

  16. I cried reading this. It's such a wonderful description of a sweet time. I'm glad he has had that reunion with his loved ones that he had been planning. (a Almost as if it was part of his wish list.)

  17. Thinking of you at this hard time. Thankyou for sharing. It had me in tears as reminds me of when my grandad passed away.

  18. Saying goodbye is so hard - but I'm so glad that you've had this special time with your Dad, and that you know he is ready to leave this life. You will all miss him so much, and I hope that he does not suffer. My prayers are with you at this time. God bless.

  19. Sending prayers for you and your family Lisa. Thankyou for sharing your story, and reminding me to make the most of every moment with my parents. xx

  20. Elizabeth in Georgia,USA28 January 2015 at 01:15

    Such a wonderful day you and your dad had. That is truly a gift from God. May Heavenly Father wrap his arms around you as you say good-bye just for a little while to your earthly dad. You are strong and you will touch so many with this post. I prayed for you on the anniversary of Aaron's death but had no idea your dad was in hospital. God bless the boys and your whole family at this difficult time. Your dad wants you to write his book now. What a legacy!

  21. Your words touched me deeply. We are going through something similar with my Grandfather. I've found comfort in the song The Greatest Man I Never Knew by Reba McEntire. The many years of unspoken "I love you's" are hopefully being overshadowed by the last few months of your fathers lively and loving actions. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your lovely family.

  22. My goodness I just bawled my eyes out! The picture with your mom resting her head on his bed and holding his hand breaks my heart, goodbye can be so hard! What a sweet family! I love that your dad's personality changed to being so fun and silly with the effects of dementia. So many times you hear of people becoming grumpy or mean. I guess if we have gratitude and happiness in our heart that is what comes out when the filter in our brain stops working! I love it! I am sorry you are having to say goodbye again but how fun to send your love straight to heaven with him. I am sure having him around will be exciting for Noah and Aaron and will help them feel closer to you as well! My prayers are with you all!

  23. What a beautiful tribute to your biggest fan. I don't know you personally, but I check your blog on a daily basis. In fact, there are 3 blogs I read daily...and they aren't fashion blogs, or house decorating blogs. They are the stories of real people, going through extremely difficult things and choosing to LIVE and share the light of Christ. Your blog does that for me, you inspire me on a daily basis. I am so sorry for the heartache you must feel as it's evident in each post how much you love your family and your father. You are in my thoughts and prayers, and I'm sure there are hundreds (if not thousands) more praying for your family. With love...

  24. This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Hugs to you and your family. It is so hard to lose a loved one. God be with you.

  25. What a beautiful dad, Your sweet words brings so much fond memories of my father who passed away 8 years ago. Then my mother and eldest brother 5 years ago. Families are forever. It's just that if I could turn back time for just a while I would, just so I can hug them again. Thanks Lisa for the tears that freely flow and the love I feel when I read your blog.

  26. Oh Lisa I am here in tears. I'm so sorry to hear this news. But how amazing to have those final moments with him to be so special and filled with joy. Those photos you will treasure I'm sure! Thank you for sharing as always and grounding me with your words.
    So much love to you xxx One day you will ALL be reunited and what a joyful celebration it will be!

  27. I am so sorry for your loss Lisa and boys. I cannot help but marvel how wonderful it was though to have your Dad so present during his last months. Such a gift to you all.

  28. Hi Lisa,
    I realize that you don't know me, but I feel as though I know you. I came upon your blog right about the time of Aaron's passing. Thank you for sharing your amazing writing talent and your life. You give me so much hope! I especially want to thank you for this particular post. I love all of the details of your last moments with your dad. You and your boys will always treasure that you have put these things into writing, so you can always have these details. I lost my precious mother (age 90) back in 2003. I so wish I would have had the ability you have in writing and photography to have those days and conversations recorded. Thank you so much for your strength, your testimony and the love you put into each post. I love you for it! I feel so much sympathy for your sweet mother. My husband and I are close to the ages of your parents and my husband suffered a small stroke 6 years ago. He has mostly recovered from the effects of it. I have often thought about how blessed I am to still have him with me. I will be praying for mum's comfort and peace. I can only imagine how hard this is for her. My fahter passed when I was 2 years old, leaving my mother with 8 children at home. I don't remember my dad, so I envy you for your time with such a great man. Again, I thank you. You are such a blessing to so many. (I'm sure you can see why I don't have a blog... my thoughts and writing are so discombobulated!)


We are so grateful for everyone's love and support, and appreciate your comments xoxo

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