My father always said, "If I ever get cancer, I'd rather not know. I don't want surgery, don't want chemo, would rather die peacefully without going through a bunch of treatments."
On Sunday, September 22, I received a call saying your father's in the hospital and may have cancer. On Monday, September 23, I left California with my two suitcase limit and arrived in Albuquerque knowing nothing more than I did when I received the call on Sunday.
I spent every day from 7 AM to 7 PM at the hospital returning every evening to my fathers home in a small town about an hour away from the hospital. Every day the doctors ran tests and every day the results came back inconclusive. He had cancer but they didn't know from where it originated or how far it had spread.
First they said he might need radiation therapy. A couple of days later they said he possibly needed surgery. Then they said chemo was an option. All the things my father said he never wanted. Suddenly, he wanted it all. He wanted the radiation, wanted the surgery, wanted the chemo, wanted one more year. I just thought, oh no....
Without any answers, it was impossible to make any decisions about his future. Would he need to go into assisted living? Would I be able to bring him to California? Would he want to stay at home?
I spent my days at the hospital waiting for doctors and tying up so many loose ends. Filling out form after form. Bringing in lawyers and a notary public. The V.A., medical insurance, medicare, medicaid, vehicle titles, warranty transfers, banking records, power of attorney, on and on.
On Wednesday, October 2nd at 5 PM, the doctors came in and took everything off the table. Said it's advanced stage 4 cancer, there's nothing we can do. No radiation, no surgery, no chemo. Said, we're discharging him tomorrow.
With nothing in place, I spent the evening interviewing home hospice providers. Had everything in place when he returned home on Thursday October 3rd, less than 24 hours after being notified he was being discharged. I Spent Friday making him as comfortable as possible.
On Saturday, October 5th, he had visitors, then at about 4:00 PM said he was tired and wanted to rest. Said he didn't want any pain medication and went to sleep. He never woke up.
My brother arrived on Monday October 7th and we carried out his final wishes on Tuesday October 8th. My father repeatedly stated that he wanted to be cremated. No funeral, no services, no after party, no nothing. He just wanted to be burned and thrown in the ditch. That's what we did. We had a little ceremony of our own but that was it.
On Thursday, October 10th, I got in my fathers truck and rolled out of Pena Blanca, N.M., perhaps for the last time in my life and headed for California. After what seemed like the worlds longest drive, I arrived home on Friday October 11th.
From the time I got the call until the day he passed away it was less than two weeks. Less than 3 weeks from the time I left home until I returned. It all happened so fast that it's difficult to process. In the end, he got everything he always said he wanted.