Sunday, June 25, 2006

Good Bye, Dad

With Dad

From left to right: My Dad, Me, Anne (only a few weeks pregnant with Sydney), Grandma Baker and Grandpa Baker. This picture was taken in August 2004 and, unfortunately, is one of the few pictures I have of my father.

My father passed away today. It was after a long fight with a degenerative, debilitating disease.

My sister, Heather, had called me last weekend on Father's Day. She let me know that Dad had been moved back into a nursing home. He had been getting in-home care (and excellent in-home care) for the past several years. His condition had deteriorated so much that he could no longer be taken care of at home. He was unaware of his surroundings and mostly unresponsive to everything. His doctors were amazed that he was able to stay at home as long as he did.

Yesterday (Saturday) Heather called me to let me know that Dad had gone further down. He had entered what the doctors called the "death stages." The last stages of his illness that would bring his end.

Today (Sunday) Heather called to let me know that Dad has passed. She had been at his side, holding his hand, and he had gone peacefully. His suffering is over and he is in a better place. I am very glad that Heather could be there with him at the end.

I am very sad that Heather had to go through everything in between.

It had been five years since the onset of the disease. When I last saw Dad two years ago he was already a shell of his former self. (The picture above is from that visit.) He was no longer the strong, vibrant man I knew growing up. He was unsure, frail, scared of his own mortality, and desperately trying to hold on to everything he ever loved.

It was very hard for me to see him like that. Heather had to see him like that and for every stage from the onset, through then and until the end.

We both have wonderful memories of our father and we will never forget them.

Harold Baker was the best father he could be. He grew up in a time when a man didn't really express love. I have no doubts that my father loved me, but it wasn't until later in life (before his illness) that he really started to outwardly express it regularly.

I'm very glad he did.

I will miss my father greatly. But at the same time I am happy that his struggle with this illness is over. I know he is in a better place now. Even if that is only in the hearts and memories of all those who loved and knew him.