Shalom. I am so pleased that you have landed on this important page.
My name is Adie Shaham. I am a spiritual caregiver to people who are entering the final stage of their life cycle. It is my belief that we are all entitled to leave this world, die, surrounded by loved ones.
From the moment we are born into this world, there is only one certainty. There will reach a time when we will have to leave the world. The one think mankind have in common is death.
There are many incidents in which death is sudden with no prior warning. However, there are cases where people have prior knowledge and they have the option to prepare for death, to choose how they want to leave the world. Spiritual caregiving and support are for cases such as these.
In the Western world death has a bad name. It scares us and raises missed feelings, emotions and questions, such as: what happens before? Do we know when in advance? Is there any warning or sign? What happens after? Is there any after?
We do not like to talk about death, think about it or deal with it.
During 2009 in the midst of the great wave of layoffs, I found myself receiving one of the most important gifts of my life. From the moment I was laid off, I began an amazing and wonderful process of self-discovery and enlightenment, after which I found my destiny.
They say God works in mysterious ways. For me it was as if the Universe had used its magic wand and piece by piece connected the puzzle which included my personality, skills and abilities, enabling me to fulfill my calling as a spiritual caregiver to the dying person.
Fulfilling my destiny and love for mankind, enables me a soft arena where I can briefly touch the other's heart and bring some relief to where there is stress and pain.
I am 54, divorced, mother of three wonderful children and one cute dog. A student of the Universe.
Should you, or a dear beloved find yourself at any of these points, please feel free to call me so we can sit together and talk about the process and ease the transition.
I wish you a good life.
In Memory of my Father
The contents of this diary were written during my Father's illness and until he passed away. It is my hope, that by reading it, you will find strength and meaning, as well as guidance in the difficult times you are encountering.
On the 19th April I was planning to fly to a village in Tanzania for two months as a volunteer with young women.
About a week ago we were told that my Dad has Cancer. (In the morning we celebrated my Mom's birthday, in the evening we got the news).
Yesterday we were told by the doctor that the cancer has spread to all his bones.
We are still at the stage of running from one doctor to the other, one examination to another.
The hours that I sit with my Dad in the various waiting room, are quality time. We talk about a lot of things, I ask questions, he answers, tells me stories of his childhood, his life.
Sad and painful. My only wish is that if it is his time to leave this world, it should be quick and without suffering.
But not too quick since there are still things I want to say to him. J
We are moving about between laughter and tears.
My Father, an amazing person with joy of life and a wonderful sense of humor, keeps up his daily routine as much as he can under the circumstances.
Wherever I go, I take with the folder I have with the relevant tests, telephone numbers etc.
I am learning new words and have a dictionary of medical terms with a translation for simple folk.
I have learnt that to be healthy is important, but to be healthy and rich is the best combination, since there is medicine for the simple people and there is medicine for the rich.
A private consultation costs 1800 shekel, and a second consultation is priced at 1400 shekel.
There must be so many people above the age of fifty who are waiting for Colonoscopy. There is no other explanation otherwise, why there is no available doctor until the end of May.
There are people who know people, who know people, who know doctors and you need to use every possible connection you have, it helps to get things done quicker.
The workshop I did about a month ago (I delayed this workshop for three years) was just in time and enables me to function in peace and harmony in the chaotic situation. One of the most important things that the instructor asked me was: "What do you think your father needs your pity or your love?" And this is what guides me along the way. The love I have for my parents, and this is what I explain to the people surrounding me.
There is so much to tell, about the strength within, how everything that happens prepares us for the next stage, mainly about the privilege of being at my Father's side during this time.
And why I am telling all this?
To ask you, that each one say a prayer, send energy, each in your own way.
I know how much strength there is in words and intentions and how much this can help, especially from people with good intentions.
How much a request that comes from the heart can effect, change.
And if his time has come, and that is only between him and God, the prayers and good wishes will be at his side when he passes over into the next world.
My Dad's name is: Benny Band
And I love him very much.
I am sending each one a big hug and thank you.
Thanks for the text messages, phone calls, emails and hugs.
I really appreciate your caring. My apologies for not answering, there are days where I just don't have the energy to talk.
The update for today is that my Dad is probably a very rare type. Apparently he is in the 5% of cancer patients where the primary cancer is unknown.
Up to date and following many tests he has had, all they come up with is secondary cancer cells throughout his body.
We have an appointment tomorrow to do a liver biopsy. They then send the cells to a special lab in USA (cost of approximately $4000 and is not included in the medical care). There is a new trend today known as tailor made treatment. In 80% of the cases they are able to locate the primary cancer followed which they 'sew' a special tailor made suit according to the patient.
The moments I break down are the ones where my Dad cries.
The beaurocracy can kill a person before the illness does. They do this very courteously and with a smile on their face. Meir Medical Center and the medical aid to which my parents belong, are not friendly. This means that my parents who live in Ra'anana have to reach a hospital outside the city of Ra'anana. Due to 'politics' we get the short end of the stick.
First time in all this chaos, I raised my voice, well let me be honest, screamed my lungs out at the clerk who tried to convince me there is nothing they can do. I am now directly connected to the regional doctor, an amazing woman with good will. She sat with me for a whole hour and told me straight out that the problem will be solved and she will arrange it personally. Thank God for angels along the way. You do realize that every confirmation/ approval needs running around back and forth?
Are you familiar with the machines where you have to put in money for the parking? Them and I – we are really developing a romance. They just see me and they drool. There must be a cartel between all those machines, because every place I arrive at, they all want money. They are probably spreading the word around. That woman – she's easy to get.
I have just finished reading a wonderful book which I highly recommend. 'Death is important to the living' by Dr. Elizabeth Kubbler-Ross. She has two other books and I am waiting to receive them.
There are moments that I think to myself, can things be done differently? Maybe there is something else that can be done? Have I done everything? Somehow I find the answers in the book and the affirmation that I am in the right direction. This helps. It helps me to talk with my Dad about things that people don't usually talk about.
During this chaotic time, we had a family function, my brother's daughter's bat mitzvah. What amazing and beautiful moments. To see all our kids how supportive they are to my parents and one for each other.
When we got into the car, my Dad in a very emotional voice said: 'We have a beautiful family'. It was so great to hear him say this. At the end of it, love is what is important.
Well, the one pulling the strings probably thought I am a little bored and that my life can be spiced up a little. Besides running around with my Dad, my Mom needs to start using Insulin. Her sugar is sky high, suffers from dizziness and fell last week.
There are days where I go with them to the doctors, in the morning with my Mom to doc X and then my Dad to test Y. I know the coffee houses at the various places, where the service is good, where the service is shit. I don't even drink coffee, only tea.
I don't have a clue how people who hold full time job cope in such situations. I see how much time is needed.
To be honest, it is a full time journey. And the pay…….. I am being thanked all the time, very much appreciated for everything I do. Am being hugged and told how much I am loved.
We mostly laugh, sometimes cry. In between I go dancing, do the laundry, and even have a date here and there.
So thanks again from my heart for your care. It really gives me strength.
Keep on praying, sending energy and positive thinking.
A huge hug to each and every one.
First of all, I want to apologize for my outburst yesterday. I was very sensitive yesterday. I dearly love you, and am glad that we are in this boat together and feel I have a lot of support and help from you. It is very difficult for me to see Dad like this. Yesterday was just another blow with the news we got.
I remembered this morning the slogan of the ALS. Hope is stronger than fear.
Mike, hope lives in everyone in every moment, even in the most difficult situations and until the moment the person comes to terms with his death and then he lets go and lets nature take its course. That moment can be one minute before he dies, days, weeks or months.
I am a strong believer. I believe that there is a reason for anything that happens. I believe strongly in the power of words and therefore do my best to use them wisely.
Along with that, I believe that everything that happens in a person's life prepares and leads him to the next stage. That is how it has been for me in the last 3 months.
I was laid off from my job. Rested. Had fun. Organized my trip to Africa. Did the workshop which gave me tremendous tools and developed my intuition even further. The instructor at the workshop did a one on one interaction with me about death, when none of us knew at that time what is going on with Dad. Immediately after the workshop the ball started rolling.
I thank God for the gift I have received. To be at our parents side at this stage. In my opinion it is a great privilege and so I told Dad.
I keep asking myself, is my way the right one? Can things be done differently? And then, I get the answer from a book I read, a movie I watch, or something Dad says something, and I know I am being guided from up above.
We are on the same side my dear brother, to envelop Mom and Dad with lots of love and the cooperation between all of us, brothers, sister-in-law, and grandchildren is amazing.
Our way is just different.
I love you and will keep you updated with every little thing that goes on.
A huge hug
My Father. Where do I begin?
During these hours that I am writing this, he is still here. In this world.
I feel I must put into writing the situations, unusual experinece and the moments with him, before I forget.
There might come a day where we will do a stand-up comedy on my Father's dying, because besides the tears, he has us in fits of laughter.
My dad was hospitalized last Monday at the Sourasky Medical Center in the Oncology department. The reason: a dear man with cancer. Primary unknown. Too late and incurable, but the right dose of pain killers and infusion for strengthening the bones can be given. And thus begins the journey.
The department looks like a 5 star hotel. Carpeting from wall to wall, elegant furniture, light fittings, sea view and a staff full of smiles receive us (remember the programme Love Boat with the crew that greets the people as they board?)
And the silence……. As if you are on a stranded island.
But that is obvious, since most of the patients are on morphine of sorts.
We have no idea what day it is, when it is Saturday, holiday. Days and nights around the clock with my Dad, and then from him to Mom. The days are confused.
One of the days, while on duty my Dad shows symptoms of a stroke. There are two options: a stroke, or the cancer has spread to the brain.
The doctors recommend a CT of the head. And there is still a biopsy to be taken from the neck. And I ask the doctors what for? Why does he have to go through all this if we know the outcome?
I went to the doctor and told her that it might be too soon, but under no circumstances did my Father want to be put on any life support machines. We had no time to organize this legally because things were moving so fast.
I return home very frustrated. Is this how it is going to end? No final words, how I love him That's it??
The following morning I arrive for my shift, and there is my Dad, sitting up in bed, clear as crystal and totally aware, and he asks me:
Am I dying?
Him: thanks for being honest
Me: did you want me to lie?
Him: no. how long
Me: when you are ready
Him: are they going to put me down?
I burst out laughing and answered that he is not a dog, and they don't put down humans.
What happened after is impossible to put into words, but I will try anyway.
My brother who was sitting on the chair was crying, and my father very quietly asks me: Does he know the truth?
I smiled and answered yes.
My other brother celebrated his 50th birthday and my Dad remembered, so when he called my Dad spoke with him and then says to him: just a second. Covers the phone and asks me if he knows the truth. I told him yes.
He then asked if my Mom knows.
I told him everyone knows and that we care for him and love him dearly.
He asked to call my Mom and spoke with her on the phone, telling her how much he loves her and that his days are numbered.
When he finished the conversation, both my brother and I were in tears. I hugged him and told him how proud I am of him, and how much I love him. He held both our hands and asked that my elder brother come too. Poor guy, was on his way north, did a U-turn and came back.
The grandchildren began arriving one at a time.
My father, this unbelievable man sat on his chair in the room, and each in his/her turn came into the room to get a personal farewell from my Father. He left each one with words of love and appreciation.
We were all standing out in the lobby and every time, another grandchild would come out crying his eyes out.
And in between, laughter.
I would go into the room in between, to check up on his, if he needs anything, and he would be preparing the tissue for the next grandchild.
What a pity we never filmed this.
He wanted to say goodbye to my Mom in person, so my brother fetched her from home and we gave them their time together.
His brother arrived by surprise, and a good friend, and another good friend called with each one, he had some time alone to talk and say goodbye.
What can I say? An extraordinary person my Father.
The medical staff arrive for their daily round and he says to them: 'I have always dreamed of sleeping for 24 hours without pain, and I have, I understand it is my time. I have had a good life, a good wife, 3 wonderful children who I love and am proud of, 9 lovely grandchildren that I love. I don't want any more exams, tests, medication. I just want to go without pain and peacefully.' The doctor and the nurse stood there with their mouths open. Definitely a rare type never saw this before.
I was at the hospital for twenty four hours. We spoke about death, I asked if he was scared? His answer: 'I never really thought about it. I don't know it is or what there is out there'. I was quiet for a while and then said to him: 'Remember when you went abroad to USA? How did you feel when you boarded the plane?' He answered: 'A little excited, a little anxious, going to the unknown'. I replied: 'Well, maybe you can think about death as a journey, a little exciting, a little scary, going into the unkown.' He gave me one of those looks with a thumbs up and said 'I like the idea'.
This morning I woke up to hear him say: I didn't die, why?
Then he adds, you better call your mother and tell her I didn't go.
My Father, probably a control freak, wanted me to get him the number of Chevrat Kadisha so he can speak with them and arrange the grave etc, so we won't have to deal with it.
Hey Dad, leave something for us to do after you're gone.
What a wonderful gift he gave each of us, leaving us with kind words and love and a feeling which can never be expressed in words.
And with what a load of love he will be going over. When each of us had the opportunity to tell him how much he is loved, to ask for forgiveness.
I am still very emotional about the whole day and am so happy that I have been given the opportunity for such a goodbye.
I told him what a great person he is, lovable and what an important gift he left us all with.
And he answered in a way which is so much him, noble: 'I am just doing what I think is right and what I think needs to be done.'
This morning I contacted his brother from abroad. They have not spoken in four years. Listening to the conversation with his brother was every emotional. 'Let bygones be bygones. You are my brother and I love you. My days are numbered and I just phoned to say goodbye. To say I love you. Surround yourself with your family. You will need them one day. Believe me.' I was finished. I had to leave the room and let myself cry out there in the lobby.
We also connected between my Dad and my cousin in Canada. They used to speak on the Skype three, four times a week. It was early morning there, and my Dad says to my cousin, 'I called to say goodbye and it is no joke.' My cousin was in shock, but was pleased to have the opportunity to say farewell to my Dad.
I guess we could have donated plenty of tears to the water shortage in Israel, that is, if they would have collected them.
He is wide awake and as sharp as a razor, and knows exactly what is going on.
Of course none of the grandchildren were able to sleep that night. They are all still under the very emotionally intense experience. Most of them, this will be the first death in the family. It is so wonderful that they can experience this in such a pure and beautiful way.
I am sending this as is. Straight from the heart to the keyboard without making any changes.
I don't always have the energy to answer phone calls. This is a summary of what I am going through in the last few days. All in all, I am ok. Tired, crying, mostly laughing and amazed every time how much strength a person has in extreme situations.
I am sitting at the hospital next to my Dad. The emotional adventure is so strong and intense and I want to remember everything. Every word, comma, facial expression. Soon he won't be here.
Today he told me he wants to go already. That he was very disappointed that he did not die that night. He thought you close your eyes and that's it. We spoke about it and he asked how does one know when it is happening and what happens.
My father, the perfectionist wants a user manual on how to die. J Not a bad idea for a start-up. I told him I can only say what I read and saw in the movies, and we spoke about it.
Yesterday we were told that he is a candidate for the Hospice. I know he needs to be prepared for this gradually and I have no idea how I am going to tell him.
In the morning he asks me, what are my options now? I take advantage of the situation to talk to him about the hospice. He has many questions and I spoke with the relevant people and get back to him with all the answers. It was difficult for him to come to a decision. He does not want to burden us with driving back and forth and wants the conditions there to be more comfortable for us. I told him about the place in Ra'anana but the staff there is not trained and we want only the best for him. He calls my mother to get her opinion. I told him I would go to Tel Hashomer and visit the place and take photos so he can see for himself. They have a private room for every patient, with an outlet to a lovely garden. That the place is more like a holiday resort than a hospital. That the staff is specifically trained, no tests, no blood pressure. He give the go ahead.
Today they brought a musical therapist over who sat and listened to his life story and came out of the room very emotional and said that he is an amazing, interesting and wonderful person. That is my Dad.
When I asked him what else can be done for him, he answered me:
'Find a place where you can get more love and bring it to me, so I can repay you with all the love you are giving me.' Well, I hugged him and cried and told him he does not need to, since he has given me so much.
At some stage of the day he told me that he thinks it would be best if I was the one to tell my Mom and my brothers that he has died. That it is over. I would probably have a good cry, but I would feel relief because he was not suffering any more. But then he does not want me to cry anymore.
I answered him that I would be honored to hold his hand till he closes his eyes and passes over to the next life. And I would probably cry and we are allowed to, but mostly we would laugh because he left us with so many funny memories.
I knew. I just knew in my intuition that this journey would take me to places I have never been to and that he would leave me with an amazing gift. Every day that I am at his side, every minute and second I cherish and thank for.
And Africa – can wait!
He said he would like to go home for a few hours to fix up a few things. I thought to myself, why not? I checked with the hospital and there is a possibility to release him over the week end for a few hours. I called my mom and she said it's a great idea, but without the grandchildren. Just my parents and the kids. Now we have to arrange a doctor/nurse to accompany us.
My Mom told me that my brothers are having a hard time releasing him, and she spoke with my Dad about it. When my brother arrived to change shifts, my Dad woke up and told him straight out that he understands it is difficult for him to let him go, but he wants to go already and to please let him go. I started crying and was crying all the way home.
I can only think how lucky I have been for this amazing, emotional adventure that I am going through.
Yesterday I was supposed to arrive for my shift around midnight.
I managed to register at unemployment, do some shopping for Mom and myself, washing, clean the flat, take my mobile phone to be repairewd and spend some time with the kids.
I planned on sleeping for a few hours and then arrive at the hospital.
But then, my younger brother called and said that Dad keeps asking where I am and when will I be arriving. Take your time he said, but you better get here.
I was just dozing off, when my brother called again and said, Listen, Dad wants you.
I got organized in a jiffy and asked my friend Marcel to take me. Getting into the car and driving was too dangerous. I was totally exhausted.
So my friend picked me up and drove me to the hospital and it took a while because of heavy traffic. We went upstairs and my father was so happy. He said the whole day he was hearing my voice. Did you miss me Dad? And he answered, very much.
I hugged him and told him I am here now and that Marcel is here with me. Does he have the strength for a short visit?
Him: of course, just no jokes. J
Marcel came in and they talked a little and he was aware and sharp.
My brother was busy organizing him up in the bed and my father said he is not lying straight. Truth is – he was right. So we straightened him up in bed, and then he said: 'Now I am straight' and continued to talk with Marcel.
Marcel and I went downstairs for a while, to drink and eat something and talk a little.
The night was quiet. I fixed up the folding bed and even managed to sleep a few hours.
Around 05:30 in the morning, I heard something going on in the next bed and I realized that it's probably over.
When I got out of bed and passed to the lobby I saw that the neighbor was covered in a sheet. I asked the doctor and she confirmed he passed away. I think about now and laugh, because it's obvious that if the entire body is covered in a sheet the person is dead. For some reason I felt the need to make sure.
I went over to the daughter and we hugged and cried.
I am so happy that my Dad managed to say goodbye to everyone. It is so awful when it's over and there is no turning back and they never managed to say anything. They still thought they had time.
We were lucky under very difficult circumstances to meet an amazing family with a wonderful father. We were like one big family there. Every morning when I arrived for shift duty I would bring him hot coffee. We used to talk, and laugh and cry.
The wife came to say goodbye to Dad and they hugged and cried. She told my Dad how much her husband loved him and how privileged they are to have been in a room with such a special family.
And I sat there for the next two hours. The dead body, my Dad and I until his family arrived. It was so sad and emotional.
Sort of a general rehearsal for me, hey?
My dad, when he came back from wherever he was a few days ago, told me that him and the neighbor are going on the same day. He was so upset that the neighbor never knew the truth. That the family never told him.
I told him we are so lucky to have said our goodbyes.
My brother came to take over from me and another friend took me home, I immediately ran to the computer to write everything.
Thanks for the text messages, the emails, the offers for help and mainly thanks for hugging me with all your love. It gives me strength.
My Dad decided to give me a run for my money during my shifts.
So on Saturday evening, after my brother was on his shift for over twelve hours, I arrived, to find my dad in a world of his own, barely speaking, swollen in both legs and arms.
I asked my brother: 'What's this?'
His answer: 'This is how I got him.'
After my brother left, slowly my Dad began recovering. He ate a little, took his tablets and finally went to sleep. Me, already well drilled, when he goes to sleep, I organize the folding bed and go to sleep.
In my sleep I can hear him mumbling our names and asking that we mourn him for seven days and then no longer mourn him.
At some stage I hear him talking with God.
'Take me, I have had enough, how do I have to pray so you take me, what do I have to say, should I pray in Hebrew?'
And me, half laughing half crying, when I hear him saying 'lift me, lift me'.
I figured the angles were here to escort him, until I understood that he is actually asking to be lifted in the bed J
And then he shouts: Michael help me, help me. Tell me what to do.
It is almost midnight and my Dad wants a rabbi so he can pray.
Come on???? Now he has decided to turn religious, at midnight? Where am I going to find a Rabbi at this time?
(About 2 hours previously I called my brother up North and told him I have a question that is bothering me. If something happens in the middle of the night, does he want me to sms him, call him or wait till morning? He burst out laughing and told me of course to call).
And now, I have to call him at midnight, he is becoming more religious and is the only one I can consult with regards to a Rabbi.
I called him and he told me to ask the neighbor in the room who is a religious man, to please read out to Dad "Shma Israel". Luckily for me the neighbor is awake; however he has a hearing aid.
Now imagine the following situation where I need to move about two geriatric men, one Ashkenzai, the other Yemen hard of hearing. They need to sit next to each other so my father can repeat what the Yemen man says.
Following is the picture: my Dad sitting on the bed, one handing holding his 'Bucky' (a small plastic bowl he had when he needed to bring up), in his other hand a bottle of water, the Yemen man sitting opposite my father, can barely see what is written, and remember he is hard of hearing. It is midnight.
He asks my Dad if he is ready to begin, and off we go.
Well, I was sorry I did not get all this on video. My Dad saying after him every word, with the Yemen style. I stood there for over twenty minutes, not knowing whether to laugh or cry.
Once done, my Dad went back to sleep after making sure I sent a sms to each of my brothers telling them that the job was done.
He is totally a control freak.
In the morning he says to me 'when they took my blood pressure, I realized I was not dead yet'. He really gets disappointed every time.
He spoke with my mom over the phone and she told him to go to heaven. I hear him telling her he doesn't know how. She says: ask Adie. I told them both that I don't have an instruction manual. 'Let go, and it will happen when it happens.' He ends the conversation with my mom and gets up from the chair. I ask him: 'where are you going?' His answer: 'your mom said I should go.'
The man has us in fits of laughter with his humor. He is totally aware at times and knows exactly what is going on. At times he sees visions of all sorts. His legs are very swollen. And today I noticed that his left hand is swollen.
He took off his watch and ring and asked we give it to Mom to keep. These are two items he has never parted from. Always said he wants to be buried with his watch.
Tonight was a difficult night, because even though he slept well, the guy in the next room kept screaming. When he finally calmed down, my father woke up at 02:30 and had me running errands for him.
I am on the way to bed for a few hours. Have the day off till tomorrow noon and hopefully will go out to dance tonight. Even for two hours. I really miss it.
Hugs to all
Today I understood, yip, I had what you call and insight or whatever, I don't recall my Dad giving me compliments as a child.
Now, every day he gives me a load of them, telling me how wonderful and great I am, how strong I am, how I am doing everything in the best way possible, how devoted I am and how much he loves me.
What an amazing closure we are going through.
He is pretty out for the last few days, either from the tablets or from the cancer. In the little time he is awake he is an absolute comedian.
The man in the bed next to him left today. Either they die, or they leave, and we are forever here J
Besides the funny things, there are those that are weighing me down.
I have been on shift duty at 06:00 in the morning for the last two days.
My dear father is deteriorating. He is very tired; most the time is asleep and is fed up already.
This morning he sat my youngest brother and myself and told us that yesterday my elder brother spoke with him about bringing help for a few hours a day. To make it a little easier for us.
My father said that he knows it is hard on us but would like us to wait until he gets to the Hospice. He prefers that we stay with him.
This is very difficult. Obviously there is no right or wrong way. Logically – of course we need the help. My heart says to be with my Dad for as long as we can, because once it is over, then it is over. No way of turning the clock back. I feel that his days are numbered; my brothers say this can take months. I am torn between my father's wishes to the needs of my brothers.
I am unemployed and therefore am more available, am willing to put in more hours per shift.
It has only been two weeks and the signs of crisis are beginning to show. What does it mean? Do women have more capabilities than men? That our ability to adjust ourselves at times of crisis is better than those of men?
The thoughts running through my mind are: how will a stranger know exactly what my Dad needs? How will he understand his special humor? Will my Dad feel comfortable with a stranger? He is the type of person that so wants to please those around him, will the stranger be able to read his ways? Is it the right thing to do to put this emotional pressure on my father?
Why is there no instruction manual???????
My gut feeling and in my heart I know the right thing to do is have the family surround him.
I ask myself a lot of questions during this journey and what it is I have to learn. I am discovering many capabilities which I would never have believed about myself.
I look at the bag with the urine, checking to see the amount and the color.
I sit on the bed next to my Dad holding his 'Bucky' while he vomits into it. Wipe his sweat, rub cream on his back, give him a foot massage, and feed him. Moi??? I am OK with it.
Two days ago we received confirmation from the Hospice in Tel Hashomer. That is, after having a whole lot of Vitamin P. Now we have to wait for someone there to die in order to get my Dad in there and it is pretty nerve wrecking.
This morning he asked me if I am worried about him. I answered: 'No, I am not worried. I just want you to be comfortable and not to suffer.' He said that he really appreciates that.
He does all sorts of 'naughty' things whilst he is awake, like a little boy. We are in absolute fits of laughter. Then when I get back to my Mom, I tell her the stories and she laughs. I think to myself, how lucky we are that we are able to laugh at these things.
Today I told him that it looks like he is really enjoying the fact that we are around him all the time. He said definitely yes. And then it hit me. The last few years my Mom has been the center of attention, due to her health, being diabetic, high blood pressure and being depressed.
And now for the last three months the entire focus has been dedicated to my Dad in high doses. Why not? He earned it.
The days are going by and I am beginning to miss the regular routine of home, kids and friends. It has been almost a month that I have been disconnected from the outer world.
Friday night I was on shift duty and it was a quiet night. My dear friend Esti came to sit with me in the lobby for a few hours. Esti, you must admit that it is better than the TV shows they have on a Friday J.
We witnessed a family losing their dear one. My whole body was in shivers. I have had enough of the general rehearsals.
My dad woke up at 04:00 and decided the night is over. So we talked and he had me run around for him. He's allowed. My brother arrived at 08:00 to replace me and I went home.
My Dad was in a great mood, without pain and even did a few steps on his own.
My brother said, come home.
One thing led to the next and before I knew it, I was driving back to fetch them both.
To get a wheel chair at the hospital is no problem. However, what do we do once we get home? It is Saturday, everything is closed.
My brother tells me of an old aged home nearby that we can maybe lend from them for a few hours.
On the way there, I drive past the home of ex-neighbors that the father has ALS (Lu Gehrig). In a jiffy we get hold of the son, explain the situation and within thirty minutes we have the father's wheel chair. Once again my close contact with ALS has assisted me.
My Dad says: 'how strange that neighbors who we lived by for so many years and have not seen for twenty three years are the ones to help out?'
The whole thing isn't easy, the wheelchair is bulky and cannot easily fit into the car, and after the whole story, does not fit into the elevator.
Well, out comes the wheelchair, get Dad off it, go up with Dad to the flat, and put the wheelchair back in the car.
It was very emotional to see my parents sitting together, both of them in shock.
My Dad takes my Mom's walker and practically starts running around the flat, to go around, check the fridge and he says to me quietly: I am doing a checkup.
My brother from the North phones and my Dad answers the phone saying: 'I can't answer at the moment I am in the middle of sex.' He just has us in fits of laughter.
I left my parents alone and went to lie down in the next room.
About an hour after I woke up, my Dad was not feeling comfortable and wanted back to the hospital. The trip back to the hospital was very difficult. My Dad was feeling really bad and in pain. In all the pressure, I had his pain killers, but forgot to take water for him to drink.
The way back should have been very short, somehow we got stuck in a traffic jam on the coastal road and to top it all some young driver bumped into us from behind.
Finally we arrived at the hospital and the color returned to my Dad's cheeks.
Although the difficulties of bringing him home, I think it was important to him as he did some closure. And my mom, it was so difficult for her to see him like that, knowing when he leaves the flat it will probably be the last time.
I was exhausted, awake since 04:00, barely slept during the day which was full of running up and down, emotional strain, but I knew that on the dance floor I will have some release. So out I went for a few hours and really enjoyed myself.
On Sunday morning on the way to the hospital, my brother called and told me that my Dad is being transferred to the Hospice at 10:00. Yipee!!
The departure from the staff was very emotional. They came up to my Dad and hugged him and the doctor told him if he does not like the Hospice, he always has a bed with them.
The head nurse has tears in her eyes and said: 'how will I go on every day without seeing you all?' She gave me her phone number and requested that we inform her.
I left with Dad in the ambulance.
What can I say?
From my Dad's room there is a door to a beautiful garden with wooden benches, a pool with gigantic gold fish. Very serene and if I did not know it was a Hospice, it could easily pass for a vacation resort.
The staff is wonderful. Unfortunately, due to manpower shortage, they are unable to answer our every request immediately. This does not comply with what I was told over the phone. However, we are there with Dad, and that is the most important.
My Dad is pretty out. I took him for a tour of the grounds. He was impressed. After I got him back into bed he was drowsy again. I was there until 20:00 and he never woke up.
There is a volunteer that comes there once a week and does Reiki to the patients and their families. I give myself Reiki, but I took advantage of the opportunity and got a wonderful Reiki treatment.
I am in search for someone to be with Dad in the nights. Unfortunately, the two options I had are not suitable since they both work at Tel Hashomer Hospital and it is conflict of interest, or unethical.
This evening I am meeting with someone who seems pretty nice and I hope it works out.
In the meantime, we are there during the nights.
During a conversation with the doctor, he told me it would be short. Between a week to three weeks at the most.
I had a very difficult day yesterday. The Hospice is final; it is the end of the road. It is so hard knowing there is no way back. My Mom wanted to speak with him last night, but he was in a deep sleep, and she cried. I just sat in the American Comfort Chair and sobbed.
My son then fetched me to take me to the car at Ichilov (where I left it). When I got to the car I saw I had left the lights on and the car was not locked. That's all I need now.
Gladly all is well. I got home, my youngest daughter prepared supper, we ate and I just sank into bed.
Today is a new day with lots to do and hope it will be easier.
Today is Saturday. On Saturday you don't sit Shiva. That's right, Dad died on Tuesday evening.
From Sunday noon after I took him around the Hospice he actually began his journey in the next world.
I arrived on Sunday for my evening shift, and that's after we interviewed someone nice who even went to meet my brother and my father at the hospice hoping he could start the night shifts.
It is impossible to know if Dad recognized me or not. He just stares. He speaks, but it is impossible to understand him, his voice is so weak. At some stage he says to me, Adie, I can't even talk any more. And then I knew, he knew I was there.
I did not get much sleep that night. I spoke with the man nurse on duty, an amazing person with so much compassion. He let me talk, listened, and explained.
In the morning the doctor arrived and then I said to the doctor: 'We don’t want an exact time or date, we just want more or less how much time. We are supposed to bring in someone for night shifts, if it means a few days only, we will be here.'
His answer: there are no few days; it is a matter of hours, maximum tomorrow.
My heart missed a beat.
He showed me signs on my Dad's fingernails and feet.
I called my brother up North.
My younger brother called and said Mom wants to come. They explained the situation to her. She felt she wanted to be there with him. I told her to bring a change of clothes and her medication and we will be with her till Dad closes his eyes.
I told my brothers that I promised Dad I would be with him until the end.
The doctor in charge then came in and called me out of the room. She said: 'It is going to end within an hour, two, three.' She hugged me and told me to be strong.
I feel the tears in my eyes and my throat.
There is a spiritual escort at the Hospice. My brother Mike met her. I went to the reception desk and asked to please see her urgently because time is running out.
She arrives together with the social worker and they hug me, and I am crying. This is it, its happening and it's about to end. And I am alone at this stage, my brothers aren't there and my Mom hasn't arrived yet.
I turn to the spiritual escort and crying I tell her: 'I have managed to get my Dad up to this stage, I am not sure what to do further besides tell him how much I love him and thank him, and he is free to go when he is ready.'
With so much compassion and care she says to me: 'you are doing exactly what needs to be done.'
I take a wheel chair and go collect my Mom from the car, sitting opposite my mom and tell her that it's going to happen in the next few hours and we will get through it together.
I wheel her in and sit her next to my Dad, she holds his hand and finally, I see my mother crying. This whole time she has been holding tight and not letting it out.
We are now waiting from my brother from the North to arrive.
Once he does we all stand around my Dad.
My brother who is becoming more religious, prays. At some stage he brings in the laptop and puts on a beautiful prayer for my Dad to hear. He replays it for a second time, and then a third, when I turn to him and say: 'don't push it. Once, twice is nice, but Dad likes Jazz.'
Since we heard that the soul leaves the body when there is no one around, we all left the room. We sat outside and a cat came and sat outside the room. They say cats are mystical animals and they know when it happens.
My younger brother remarked: here she goes with another of her theories. J
And again we enter the room. The nice nurses prepare tea and coffee and bring it in for us to drink. They come in every now and then to see how we are doing.
We are sitting and talking, laughing and crying, arguing.
The spiritual escort enters the room and sings a prayer in a beautiful soft voice.
Again we leave the room, and each one comes in separately and once again we are all around Dad. This goes on for hours.
The grandchildren keep on phoning to get updated what is going on.
At some stage whilst standing around my Dad, I asked that we all hold hands, like an energy circle, and I said to my Dad, we are all standing here with you, we love you and thank you for what you have given us, we will miss you but you will be in our hearts, you are free to go when you are ready.
And my mom talked to him, and my brother kissed him.
And more cats sat outside the room.
The spiritual escort took me aside and said to me: you don't need to ask what to do, you know, you are very attached to your intuition, just go with it. And it was so good to hear that and it gave me strength.
Sometime later we noticed that Dad's breathing is very shallow and quiet and his eyes are closing.
We stood by his side holding his hand; he closed his eyes and took his last breath.
We called the nurse; she came in and stopped the oxygen when all of a sudden her mobile phone started ringing with the tune of John Lennon's son 'Imagine.' How beautiful, strange and weird.
This day was so emotionally intense and beautiful along with the pain and sorrow and crying.
My Dad passed away surrounded by a loving family and gave us the most wonderful gift.