Friday, July 9, 2010

Brain Dead? Think Again.

As readers of my blog know, my dad died in April of this year.

Here's an interesting story about his death, one that may help someone out there.

While I was in Seattle, Washington, my 91-year-old dad, who was living in his home in New York, had a massive brain hemmorage. My brother, who was visiting my dad at the time, rushed him to the hospital in an ambulance. He called the sibs with the sad news.

After a brain scan and family/doctor conservations, it was decided that my dad was brain dead, and that it was time to pull the plug. His brain was a total mess. He had a DNR.

Well, before they pulled the plug, I really wanted to say good-bye to my dad. I called my brother, who was in the hospital room at the time, and asked him to hold his cell phone next to my dad's ear. My brother had to dash out of the room to take care of some business, so he handed the phone to my dad's nurse/caregiver.

I said a final good-bye to my dad.

About a month later, I called the nurse/caregiver to inquire about something that my sister told me shortly after my dad's passing: "A tear rolled down dad's cheek when he heard your emotional goodbye."

Originally, I thought my sister had told me the "tear" story just to make me feel good.

Well, the nurse/caregiver confirmed the tear story. She said, four times in the phone conversation, that my dad definitely heard me, and cried a tear when he heard me crying.

I am sharing this little story with you for a simple reason: When you think it's too late to say goodbye to a parent, loved one or friend, think again . . .

Rick
P.S. Doctors say that hearing is the last sense to go.

19 comments:

Dania Reichmuth Visual Artist said...

Very moving and wonderful story Rick, my dad is almost 90. Thank you for bringing "other things" to my attention!!

Cheers:)

nolanstern said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Certainly sparked a memory with my grandfather who passed away with Alzheimer's. I remember the last week he was alive I went to visit him and he was in good spirits. When I left, I said a few words and gave him a hug as it was my last goodbye. He proceeded to say words of encouragement which says to me he understood what I was saying. He passed away a few days later. This is one of my fondest memories of him and I miss him dearly.

Now, I know why they say hearing is the last one to go as he was certainly hearing me.

Samantha Decker said...

Rick, that is such a touching story! I remember when you posted this photo of your dad last year after his passing and told the story of this photo. His memory will live on with all the wonderful photographs you have of him.

Matt G. said...

A great reminder, Rick, and a touching story. Your dad must have been a wonderful guy to raise a kid like you. Glad you had a good long run with him here and hope he is resting peacefully.

Brad Mangas said...

Thank you Rick for sharing such a personal story. It does and will help.

Parkylondon said...

I was the last one to see my dad alive. The following is a post from the blog I kept of his illness and passing at sandyparkinson.blogspot.com
----

I went to the hospital this evening and Dad was breathing very badly. When I got there the breathing was weak but clear.

I had a suspicion that it wasn't going to be long so I told him how much loved him, that he should go now and be at peace. He would be remembered fondly and with much love by me, my sister and mum and all his other relatives and friends. "Godspeed Dad", I remember saying.

About nine o'clock he started to breathe as if he had phlegm in his throat. I called a nurse over and she agreed that it wasn't a good sign. She took his heartbeat and blood/oxygen and although the heartbeat was okay speed-wise it wasn't terribly strong and the blood/oxygen level was very poor.

It turns out that this is the so-called death rattle...


...Dad has been asleep for most of today and he was almost certainly asleep when he died. He looked very very peaceful when we saw him. He was still warm and it was almost like he was asleep still. The only difference was the lack of snoring. The lack of everything really.

====
I think he may, based on your post, have been almost unconcious when I said he should go in peace and go with love. I think you are right.

Kitty said...

Many years ago as a young college student I sat with my dying Grandmother who was in a coma and on lots of pain medication. I was at a loss about what I could do for her but her nurse told me to talk to her, tell her how much we all loved her because hearing is the last sense to go; so I did. She passed later that night and I've always been at peace knowing that if she did hear me it was words of love.

I've never forgotten that day and sadly I've repeated that scene with other much loved people. But, I'm always grateful to have had the chance to say "I love you" one more time.

Dalle said...

Thank you for sharing your experience to us.

Actually when my father passed away five years ago my sister and I experienced exactly the same thing when my father, also declared brain dead, shed a tear.

My very best regards and wishes for a wonderful summer!

/Lars
Ostersund, Sweden

Ken Toney said...

Rick, this brought a tear to my eye too. My dad died in 1993 soon after a somewhat normal sugery.

Al Marsh said...

Hmm, that hit close. My Mother died April 30. I stood before her at the hospital, after she has suffered a fourth stroke (age 93), upset. I tried to talk about the weather and keep up a monologue since she couldn't talk. She became upset and her breathing increased. I think she knew who I was. I think she could see I was upset.

Fortunatas said...

I've read ir twice... and it made me think of that day to come - sooner or later. Very touching and moving story. Thank you for sharing, Rick.

Mrgee59 said...

Rick, first of all I'm sorry for your loss and secondly thanks for the moving story. My mother was 91 and died this past Thanksgiving morning of Alzheimer's. Two weeks before she died she stopped eating and was offering no signs of recognizing any family members. Suddenly she said "You were a wonderful son." Those were her last words and two weeks before she died. Your story affirms that we can never assume that people in comatose states do not understand and they still must be treated with the same respect that all living humans deserve. Thanks again.

Kate said...

Beautiful photo and story Rick - hope all else is well with you and the family - send my love to Susan!

Kami said...

Emotional & wonderful short story :(
Thanks, I love it

numbeos said...

Just had a chance to read your blog recently and this one made me cry very early in the morning..I lost my dad from ALS 6 years ago and I'd imagine what it's like loosing someone loved...touchy...

Chris Barnes said...

I didn't want to cry today!

(But thanks for making me!)

Laurie said...

Thanks for sharing Rick. Brought tears to my eyes reading about your emotional good-bye with your dad. Very special. Sending you a big hug.

--Laurie

Jon Combs said...

Rick,
Thanks for sharing your very personal story with us. You continue to teach about more than just photography.

jon@prophotosupply

Anonymous said...

Thank you Rick. Your story encouraged me very much. My father passed away now two years ago on Dec 24 due to unforseen circumstances. I'd like to believe he heard our farewells.