To Be Present with the Lord

Posted on Posted in Family, Kids, Prayer Update

My Dad - Mr. L.D. Hand, Jr. - photo prep courtesy of Jamerson Braswell Funeral Home

Today would have been my Dad’s 75th birthday. He went to be with the Lord on September 27th. Shannon and I haven’t had time until now to write down the events of the past few months related to his illness.  Here’s the quick recap:

As mentioned previously, my Dad’s health had been declining as a result of an Alzheimers-related condition.  He started showing some signs of it at age 69.  Because of this disease, in recent months he had had several minor strokes and they were happening quite often.  Mom had to take him to the hospital a few times but he would pretty much “bounce back” from his stroke after just a day or two.  Even so, his condition was worsening.

In late August he was admitted to the hospital again and I went to be with he and Mom for a few days. From late August till mid October I spent almost as many nights in Pelham as at home with my family in Orlando. Dad became just too much for my Mom to handle at home – even with home health care assistance four days a week – and he continued to have mild strokes which kept temporarily taking away his ability to walk. During this time he was also incredibly confused and at times agitated, not always in an angry way, but it made it challenging to understand if he was in pain or not and to care for his basic needs.  We made arrangements for him to be admitted to the local nursing home and were waiting for a space to open up there.

September 15 Mom took Dad to the hospital again and I returned to help her. This time my father did not recover and never left the hospital.  I was privileged to be at his side when he entered God’s wonderful presence.

His condition had been critical for at least two days, yet I was surprised he passed away so quickly.  I had always thought that Dad had a strong heart – and he did – yet pneumonia took over his lungs and shut them down.  His vital signs had remained fairly in the normal range even up until an hour before his death.  God just took him home and he stopped breathing.

Shannon and the kids drove up for the funeral in Pelham, which was held on September 29th. Afterwords, we all stayed with my Mom for a week and then she returned with us to Florida and stayed for a week.  I returned her to Pelham and stayed with her again several days, helping start the process of all the legal/financial steps of settling Dad’s accounts and making sure Mom is taken care of.

Mom and Dad had been married 50 years. She is taking it day by day, but has been doing well.  For several years, she single handedly cared for my Dad with his dementia.  The vows “to have and to hold in sickness and health” definitely applied to her and she fulfilled them beautifully.  It was a tough job towards the end, very time consuming, yet the Lord gave her such joy in doing it.  I’m so proud of her.  Mom’s at home alone in Pelham now, staying active and relying on God’s grace. She wanted me to tell you all how much she has felt your prayers and appreciates you so much.

At the funeral service, my brother spoke.  He basically shared with everyone what he had wanted to tell Dad on the day he passed away.  It was an amazing tribute and I encourage you to read it here. Even if you didn’t know my Dad, I think you’ll enjoy some of the stories told.  We laughed and cried and praised God for Dad’s life.  We’ll miss him a ton, but he’s been transferred, by grace, into the Kingdom of God’s Beloved Son.

P.S. You can also read the obituary here.