Thanks for trying, Dad.

August 11, 2012

“Tell your momma I’m sorry.”

“What, Dad?”

“I tried to stay a live.”

“Oh, Daddy. You’re doing okay…”

This was how my Friday morning began. I had stayed with Dad on Thursday night. We had a good time together, but not much sleeping was done. Can you believe that the nurses come in at two for test and procedures, and they actually gave him a bath at four in the morning?  And they tell you “you need your rest  now!” Yeah right, maybe if they gave us both some morphine!

I talked mom into staying in my hotel up the block with Claira and Dee,  so she could have a night in a real bed and hopefully get some much needed rest. Earlier that evening, after mom left I had put on my pjs, cozied up to dad in my hospital chair, and was so thankful I was finally where I felt like I needed to be. I was finally there with him. A few days before Dad had had a major set back, was on a respirator, and the first thing he wrote down to communicate was, “Carrie home?”

The week before I was on a one-year in the making Cox Family vacation-a five day cruise in the Caribbean. I was really torn on if I should go or not, but in the end the whole family was going, and this was to be the last time we were all on a trip together before Josh and Denise left for the mission field. Mom and dad encouraged me to go, and I promised to call often from the boat and even catch a flight from Mexico if it came to that. We did have a nice time, but all the while my heart was aching for my daddy.  The day we got back, and ironically my 5th and my parents 40th anniversary, it seemed the bottom dropped out. Dad was much worse, off the transplant list, on a respirator, the doctors were not sure of their next move, and possibly dad was just going to go home with hospice. My first instinct was to get home, unpack, repack, then hit the road. Thankfully my husband is more level headed than me, and talked me into waiting until we found a little more information before we just reacted, and he said I could fly up in the next few days either way. The weekend was very frustrating, because we kept hearing different results. It was over, let’s just go home, or his body might heal itself, and we can get him back on the transplant list once he gets back some strength. The next few days Dad improved, but before I got to the hospital from the airport on Tuesday, my brother told me he had had another set back and was back in ICU. Our whole week was up and down like this. It was so hard to try to stay positive and happy for dad, to have hope that maybe the Lord was helping him, all the while trying to prepare yourself for the worst. Trying to see what reality was, was impossible. It changed everyday.

It took a little while for mom to decide to stay away one night (Dad was a little clingy, and didn’t hardly want her out of his sight). But finally she decided it would be okay. (Although, later she told me she couldn’t rest that night either. She kept worrying about Dad, and just wasn’t able to really rest). I read dad a few Psalms, we talked some, and it just comforting to be there with him. Dad looked really bad, he was skin and bones, extremely yellow, and honestly my first thought when I saw him was You can’t come back from this. He really had the look of death. Whenever I would feel that way, I would try and concentrate on his hands. They looked the same. They were my daddy’s hand, still big and strong looking, whereas everything else was so very weak. When everything else about him had changed, it was his hands that I could hold on to.

Thursday was a good day. Before then, he was mostly withdrawn and didn’t really talk much, but that day we had some visitors (our dear friends from AR, the Wilsons) and he woke up while they were there and all of a sudden Dad was back. He was out of the bed with the physical therapist, sitting up in the chair, and talking up a storm. It was wonderful. He was so hilarious, and even spunky.  Mom said it was the most he had talked in two weeks. I think the good day that he had was the only reason mom finally decided to leave that night.

It was really amazing, one minute dad would be telling me a story, as clear and as “with it” as Danny Hall, the expert on everything, ever was, and the next minute he was telling he that he had it “figured out” about all the arrows that had fallen from the sky, the recon actions, and the terrorists working for the hospital. It would really throw you for a loop. With his liver barely functioning, it was unable to clear out the ammonia in his blood, and it built up, went to his brain, and fogged it up a bit. I think all the sci-fi books and movies he was always intrigued by were really coming back to him. But like I said, it was only for a few minutes, then his mind would be totally clear, and he would talk as clearly as he  always had. One of my favorite memories from that night was when I was on the phone with my husband Nathan, and I let dad say hello. He was asking about Nate’s cousin Kevin’s upcoming wedding, and then started telling him how he was “trying to figure out how the Russians hadn’t killed him the night before.” It was great. A little comic stress relief. That night he also told me that his rescue ship was there before, but he just couldn’t get on yet because of all the people down below. Talk about metaphoric speaking! At first I just thought of it as more crazy sci-fi about ufos or something, but as I thought about it later, I wondered if he was telling us about the Old Ship of Zion. He was just wanting to jump on board, but we sure weren’t ready for him to go yet.

We kept waking up through the night. Nurses were in and out, Dad was wanting this or that. The next morning I felt like I did when Claira was an infant waking up multiple times at night. I really didn’t see how mom could handle it. I was exhausted.  Dad told me around three, “Well, we made it through another night.”

I thought, This is morning…it’s not even light out. This is crazy! After a little while, we both rested a little more, and I was finally sleeping hard when dad woke me up yelling. I jumped awake and went to get a nurse. Dad needed a bed pan, and I sure didn’t want to help. I could tell that morning that he was down. He seemed discouraged. After a little while he was laying on his side and told me with sad, defeated eyes, “Tell momma I’m sorry… Tell her I tried to stay alive.”

I tried to reassure him that he was okay, that he had a good night, but I think he knew it had started again. That he had given it all he had. Little did I know he had had another bleed. I sensed the nurses weren’t telling me something, but I was just hoping that I was “worrying about everything too much.”

Shortly after mom came in, and I went back to the hotel to rest. A few hours later she called and told me the news…another bleed, too many complications, he just wasn’t strong enough. Dad was going home.

Dad’s last year was rough. He probably lost close to a hundred pounds, he was constantly throwing up- I mean almost every day. He was tired and weak, yet he worked harder than I’ve ever seen him on his house. He finished the big family room, and we all were there for Thanksgiving. Dad went back to the liver doctor, full knowing all the hardships, suffering, and pain that another transplant would bring. He did all this for his family, for his ministry, for his friends. He tried. Even though it hurt, even though he had no strength, even though giving up and dying would have been the easiest thing, he chose to fight for us. Thanks for trying, Dad. It means a lot, all that you went through for us.

The Hall Family Thanksgiving 2011

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Bro. Danny and Mrs. Dee Dee Hall started coming to our church for special meetings including our missions conference, many years ago. They always brought the sweetest spirit along with them. Everyone loved to hear them sing and to listen to Bro. Danny’s stories about his old life, most of which where heartbreaking. He didn’t tell those stories to get people to feel sorry for him, but so that people would know how good God had been to him. My absolute favorite song of the Hall’s would have to be “I Just Want To Thank You Lord.” Knowing what they had been through and how much they meant what they where saying blessed my heart. No one could ever sing that song like them,to me. Every year I would hope to myself that they would sing it,  and as far as I know, they always did.My family and I have had the privilege of keeping the Hall’s in our home during our missions conference for several years. One year when they came my seventeen year old son was struggling. I think Bro. Danny picked up on it, because he spent a little bit more time with him than he did everyone else. He sat around singing, playing the guitar with him and talking. He even went hunting with him.He never said anything, but I’m pretty sure that this hunting trip wasn’t too pleasant, because he had stayed up really late and got up really early. I’m not sure if my son even remembers that, but I sure do.Every year when December would be near, my kids would ask if Bro. Danny and Mrs. Dee Dee were coming. They were so excited to find out that they were. Bro Danny always had a way of making people laugh. The funny story I would like to share happened this past December. My little girl has a manikin head. She got it so that she could learn to braid, curl, and fix hair.The doll is from the neck up, has real hair and looks very real.She[the doll]was laying on the couch when Bro Danny walked in the room. He took a look, grabbed his chest, and with big eyes said “Get that there  thang outa here.I thought y’all done cut somebodies head off.” The kids got a kick out of that, because it scared him so bad. Bro Danny will be greatly missed, but never forgotten! He and Mrs. Dee Dee are heroes to our family.We look forward to seeing you in December, Mrs. Dee Dee.We love you!!!!