The past nine months have been an up and down emotional journey. I had finally completed my book and it was ready to hit the bookstores and go on sale. During this time, my dad was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. He was in the hospital for a week and a half when he took a turn for the worse. When I arrived at the hospital on September 25 he was complaining of pain in his leg. I feared he had a blood clot. The docs ran the necessary tests and put him on morphine for the pain. I sat with him most of the morning to early afternoon and then my brother and sister-in-law arrived to sit with him. I had committed to a promotional book signing event since my book had just hit the stores earlier in the week. Needless to say, my mind wasn’t on promoting my book but rather my dad and his health. When my brother and sister-in-law left the hospital around 9 that Thursday evening, my dad seemed better.
On Friday, September 26, when I got to the hospital, I learned that my dad took a major bad turn and they were moving him to the ICU. The physician assistant informed me the situation looked grave and I should contact family. I couldn’t get my head around any of what was going on – he was doing so well two days earlier. I contacted my siblings and my kids and advised them to come to the hospital. Within hours my husband, siblings, kids, nieces, nephew, grandchildren, and great niece and nephew were there. A few at a time were allowed to go back and visit with dad, although he wasn’t fully conscious.
As the afternoon turned into evening the youngest of the Clepper family went home. My husband, brothers, sister, sister-in-laws, kids, nieces and nephew remained. We were all in disbelief of how fast dad’s health went downhill. We couldn’t understand.
The physician in charge came into the room where we were all sitting and gave us an update on dad’s situation. It wasn’t good – he started to bleed internally and his blood pressure was too low to operate in order to stop the bleeding, plus the doc didn’t know what was causing him to bleed. There wasn’t much more the doc could do for dad. It was time for us to make a decision whether or not to prolong dad’s life or let him go. Not a decision any of us wanted to make or think about making.
Dad had a living will and it stated not to keep him alive by artificial means. So, with great pain we, dad’s family, decided to let him go. It was midnight when the twelve us gathered around dad’s bed in the ICU. We turned on his CD player and listened to one of his favorite CD’s – Calling My Children Home by the Country Gentleman – there we sat with dad as his life slowly slipped away. He was at peace though, he looked like he was sleeping. My niece and I watched his chest as he breathed knowing that his breathing would eventually stop and around 4:30 a.m. it did. With heavy hearts and tears, we each said goodbye to dad.
The days ahead would never be the same. The publication of my book was bittersweet. Life went on and that’s how my dad lived sorrowful and disappointing things passed his way – he would say, “life goes on.”
There are so many good memories of my dad – each of his kids, grandkids, and great grandchildren hold close to their heart. A few of us dad gave nicknames – his reason for giving us nicknames – who knows. My dad left an impression on all the people he came in contact with and with dad you always knew where you stood. He was a proud man and a little rough around the edges; his hands were huge, but his heart was bigger. There was no doubt how he felt about his family – he loved them, although we can count on one hand how many times he told any of us he loved us – he didn’t have to – his actions said it all.
These past nine months have been a journey – a learning experience. My dad was the person I turned to often for advice and for a sounding board. We all did, but now we have to figure it out for ourselves knowing that dad is still with us pushing us along.