My father passed away at home on October 22, 2018 at the age of 87 after a short bout with lung cancer that was diagnosed before reaching the mid point of 2018. He also suffered from diabetes for about a decade, if not longer. The onset of gangrene began earlier this year with two of his middle toes slowly decaying. The nurse became aware, on the last week before his death, that his death was imminent as his middle two toes has spread to three one day and then all five a couple of days later.
His death certificate stated that his immediate cause of death were failure to thrive, protein-calorie malnutrition and anorexia, all from the effects of cancer. While the time of death from the hospice nurse was at 3:20 pm, I remember getting off work around 2:30 pm and started heading towards the bus stop to get to the next job before 3:15 pm. I turned off airplane mode so the phone can receive messages, if there were any. Then a text message from an unknown number that I did not save came through:
Hello. This is the hospice nurse. I came to visit your father today. Looks more weak and tired. We turned him to left side and noted wounds to right side around leg area. Was unable to get a blood pressure reading but he is still breathing heavily. I told your mom to call me if he stops breathing. Thank you.
The hospice nurse usually gets to the apartment at 11:00 am and stays for at least an hour, but depending on the situation, it may last up to two hours. I figured some time has passed since she sent her text. As I got near the bus stop, I saw the bus I needed to get to work, but I didn't rush to get it nor did I attempt to get on the bus. In that instant, I knew I had to call home to not only hear from mom, but to also know the current condition of my dad. When mom picked up the phone, I asked if she was okay and of course, if dad was okay too. She said she was okay and told me to hold on while she go check on dad as she did not check on him for awhile.
While the bus I needed drove off, I waited several minutes to hear back from mom. My mom came back to the phone crying uncontrollably to quickly come home. After hanging up with her, I started walking towards the redline which was a little bit of a distance from the bus stop. Once I got there, I called the nurse that texted me earlier today. She said that she was not currently at the apartment and that it was best to head there as soon as she can. She said was 30 minutes away as was I. During the ride home, I texted my boss at the job I was heading to that most likely I may not be there, but he already knew what was going on and had let me know that it was all good. After the exchange, my eyes started to tear up.
The nurse and I practically got there at the same time. She was walking into the apartment as I was getting off of the elevator. Once she got to dad, that's when she announced the time of death. She started to clean his body and asked if we chose a funeral home to schedule time to pick up the body as well as the company that provided the healthcare equipment, such as over the bed table, oxygen concentrator, etc. Once the phone calls were settled, we were asked if his dentures were to stay on or to be removed. It took us a couple of minutes to decide, but we eventually had the nurse take the dentures off. To be honest, I am glad they were off, because not only did he not look peaceful with it on, he also looked like a zombie. It was something I eventually told my sister-in-law when my brother's family arrived later in the evening. I also told her that it's true when people say that the deceased looks peaceful soon after they pass, but at the same time, in my mind, I also thought he started to look like a mannequin.
My mom, my brother, his wife, their child and I spent the majority of the evening in the living room and dining room while dad was peacefully sleeping eternally in his room. The funeral home finally arrived to pick up the body at around 7:30 pm. I introduced myself to two men that came in with a very tall metallic stretcher with a zipper cover attached to it. One of the men, the funeral director, introduced himself and told me he was the one who I spoke to over the phone several days ago, with my older brother, about what the funeral home offered. During the process, we all stared at the two men entering my father's room, closing the door and then eventually leaving the apartment with his body.
I had gotten a call from the front desk and was told that there was a delivery. I guess there was a little bit of a confusion on the phone that was placed with the company that provided the healthcare equipment for dad a little earlier in the afternoon. The person at the front desk gave the phone to the driver and I immediately told him of the mistake that was made. He told me to give him several minutes. They eventually cleared it up and came up to pick up the equipment. There were several items that needed to be taken down and I helped him as there was nothing really to do at that present time as he would have had to come back anyway. I came back up to the apartment to close the door one last time for that evening.