Sunday, September 6, 2009

Conversations with a dying man

This week Manny's health was going downhill...

Yesterday I went to his house after making his favorite meal Corned Beef, cabbage and potatoes...

When I arrived he was in bed... he was sleeping... so I rubbed his arm to wake him up and let him know I was there...

He declared in a raspy voice "I think I am dying" I said softly "I know Honey"
"You do?" "Ya, you have been declining all week" "Do you think I will make it through the night?" "I don't know... Do YOU think you'll make it through the night?"
"I don't know... I don't think so..." "Okay then... what do you want to do?" "I don't wanna go to the hospital" "Ok... you dont have to go to the hospital... I'll stay with you" "Ok... I'm sorry Kid, you won't get paid anymore" I laughed "Manny it was never about the money... I would have done it for free" "I know"
"Do you want some food? I brought your favorite meal" "Ok... just some potatoes"

So I went and got some out of the bowl... It was very hot when I brought it over to him... So I mushed some of the potatoes up and started spoon feeding one to him...
He looks at me... frowns and says... "I'm dying and your feeding me cold potatoes!" I laughed so hard... then teased him "Ok... I'll go heat them up... sheesh... who knew you were gonna get all picky for your last meal..." and he laughed back...
He had a few bites and then started drifting between this world and the next... I sat on the side of his bed, spoon in hand, when he starts talking to someone... looking at them, using hand gestures... I just sat there... Ive seen that happen before and it always fascinates me... It happened with my Mom and Grampa... I find it comforting... It solidifies my belief that there is something on the other side waiting...
Suddenly, he comes back to this world... smiles embarrassed and shrugs his shoulders... as if to say "Oops... you busted me acting crazy"
"It's ok... are you seeing people from the other side Honey?"
"No" he says too quickly and I know he is lying
"Its ok if you do... its common to see those who have already died coming to help you to the other side... Are you sure your not seeing anyone?"
"No" [translation... I am a Marine from WWII and that is too weird to talk about]
"Ok, I gotta go call Sam and tell him I am staying with you..."
"Ok" and he drifts back to the other side...

A few hours go by... I just sit there in a chair, playing with the kitten... watching him, constantly moving... He can't get comfortable... His poor body is full of cancer and he is not on any medication for pain... Its his Marine mentality... He is a tough guy...
Finally by 8pm, he decides he wants to go to the VA Hospital... [Its 80 miles away but I dont care... Its the hospital he wants]
I called Sam to help me get him into the car because Manny can't walk...
Sam comes over and carries him to the car...
On the drive there he says... "You did a great job taking care of me Kid!" "Awww thanks, you better become an angel in heaven and watch over me okay?" "Ok... I'll wave at you once in awhile" I laugh... "Ok" "I'm going to miss you Manny" "I'm gonna miss all of you too" [he means Sam and the kids]
and he drifts off again...
Long story longer...
I stayed with Manny till he was admitted to the VA hospital... "I am going to die here" he states in a whisper by now..."You want to die here Manny?"I need to be sure I understand "Yes" "You dont want to go home?" "No I want to die here" "Ok... I love you and I will be back this weekend if your still here..." He smiles and he is asleep again...
He is still alive... but barely at the VA...
It was THE perfect dying conversation I ever could have had with him... I said what I needed to say, he did the same, it wasn't emotional and sad... it was matter of fact and funny...
It was PERFECT...

Then...

At 3am...

I cried all the way home... because I would really miss 'My Manny Man the Marine'

5 comments:

mortonlake said...

no words.just,you did well.he passed over with no fear.and thats something many dont have.take care,xx

FrankandMary said...

Okay, so I cried the first time you sent this(via email) & I am now crying for the 2nd time.

Damn you(in a very good way).~Mary

Beth said...

I echo Mort's comment. Very touching, and how remarkable that he maintained his sense of humor...with your help.

DB said...

Very moving. My mother saw and spoke to someone as she was going. I think it was my father who had gone decades before.

DB

Jeanie said...

How perfectly accepting he was of his impending death. You were such a loving friend and carer to him.
I hope he has already 'waved' to you from on high.
God rest his soul.
God bless you!
Jeanie