Catching Our Breath

Dad at dawn checking lap times 🙂

It’s Friday night and Rudy & I are sitting in our quiet house, smiling at each other and enjoying  each other’s quiet company.  It’s so surreal to think it was a week ago tonight that I sat at my Dad’s side after a VERY LONG travel day to get there…although he was out due to the morphine drip and his breathing seemed labored, I was just so relieved that he was comfortable and I was there…the anxious tears I shed all day as I was in transit disappeared, my heart relaxed and I just tried to take it all in.  My mom, brothers, their wives and the Wilson cousins were all there too and we spent Dad’s last night celebrating my folks’ 54th wedding anniversary (which had been the day before) with cake and milk, singing, looking through his scrapbooks and chuckling over some old letters Dad wrote over a half century ago.  My brothers and I spent the night with Dad and I drifted in and out of sleep listening to his breathing…heavy but strong and steady.  We decided the next morning that Dad must have been marathoning to Jesus which made sense because he always was a distance runner.  And then it happened…that Holy Moment when life on earth crosses the threshold into life eternal…we were there, my  brothers and mom and sister-in-law, talking about our breakfast plans when his breathing became shallow and then just stopped…so peaceful.   A peaceful finish for a man who wasn’t always at peace…a man who didn’t find out he was adopted until his mother told him in a fit of anger as an adult; a man who had trouble expressing his feelings, communicating and relating which contributed to a strained marriage for many years; and a man who lived for decades with the disappointment of an unmet dream and yet I noticed a change in Dad the last 10-15 years.  In a season of life when many get even more set in their ways, Dad demonstrated humility and growth and the ability to change as he learned to communicate and share his feelings freely…he began to relax and enjoy life.  A woman from the church told me at his funeral service that when she visited Dad in the hospital early last week, they were joking around and bantering as they always did and at one point she said “How do you feel Dick?” to which he answered “Happy”.  What a gift!  I’m proud of my Dad…and not because of all his athletic accomplishments but because he was a man of quiet character, kindness, respectfulness, discipline, humor, faith and loyalty.  He worked hard, loved his family and honored his commitments…he ran a good race with all its hills and valleys and , in the end, God awarded him with grace in his journey with cancer, peace in his final months of life and happiness in the hours before death.  Oh, that I might have a finish like that too!  Thank you, Dad, for the love you shared with me, Rolf and the children; for laughing at my jokes and for affirming my life choices.  I’m going to miss your big smile and strong hugs, the pinochle challenges and the stops at Dunkin’ Donuts but the greatest gift you gave me was your example!  How grateful I am to God for you!  


 Richard H. Wilson, Sr.   December 29, 1931 – July 17, 2010 

After the whirlwind of planning and executing Dad’s funeral service, I flew back to California early Wednesday morning in time to take Rudy to his appointment with his ENT surgeon at UCLA.  It was of great comfort to spend the day with Rolf and Rudy even if it was within the walls of the UCLA Medical Center…and we were encouraged by our consult with Dr. Shapiro.  Based on the little she could examine in her office, she thought Rudy’s airways are looking healthy…she was encouraged by his growth and color.  She’ll conduct a bronchoscopy on August 3rd which will allow her a closer look at his airways to make sure there isn’t any scar tissue and that the cartilage supporting his trachea is not compromised.  ‘Still not sure if Rudy will wean off the trach before or after his next heart surgery…waiting for details to unfold. 

The big kids are still in Alabama and Rolf joined them yesterday for a little Geyling family reunion…they all return on Monday and life will move forward…slowly getting back to a familiar routine.  I admit that losing Dad does shake my confidence a bit as he and Rudy started their battles for survival at the same time and his fight was a source of great encouragment and inspiration to me as I’ve walked alongside Rudy.  So now we take a minute to catch our breath, regroup and focus our energy on the steps ahead…right foot, left foot, one step at a time!

"Paging Dr. Harrison" - Rolf is becoming a bit too familiar with UCLA Medical Center!
Waiting for Dr. Shapiro like a big boy!
I missed my boy

14 thoughts on “Catching Our Breath

  1. So good to hear from you Trish! What a beautiful explanation of your last evening with your dad!!! I just know he was waiting for you to show up before he could say good-bye! I just LOVE that last picture of you and Rudy….he adores you! I BET he missed you!!! Kiss him for us, will you?

  2. So glad your father had a peaceful passing and you were there. Rudy is looking so grown up and happy in these photos. He missed Mom!

  3. I’ve been checking regularly for this post – thanks so much for your usual articulate, heartfelt words. What a journey these last days have been! I thank God that you were able to make it (even though it sounds like a hard trip) in time to be with family for several hours before your dad crossed that finish line. And thank you for sharing some pieces of his story – I love that you can say he was a man who kept growing in Jesus until his last breath. What a goal for each of us.

    And I so understand the powerful impact of his death on your anxiety level about Rudy. These feelings are so very normal, Trish. Of course, you make these associations. Of course, your dear dad’s passing re-invigorates a lot of submerged worry and fear. Deep breath. One foot, one step at a time, as you so wisely put it. God knows and understands your fear and will meet you right in the midst of it.

    And somewhere in all of this, you have to allow a pretty big space for grieving, dear Trish. I know you have already picked up the reins, headed smack dab into the center of the maelstrom once again – that dizzying whirlpool that is your life as a parent of beautiful Rudy. But please give yourself lots of room for sadness and loss, for rejoicing and remembering, for missing the dad you’ve come to love, understand and admire so much in the last dozen years or so. You really can’t skip this – no matter the demands on your time, energy and spirit from the rest of your life! I thank God for you, Trish, and I pray God’s peace and comfort as you put those lovely feet one in front of the other. Love, love, love.

  4. Agree with Grace on two points – grateful for the beautiful remembrance of your precious Dad, and I too LOVE the picture of you and Rudy. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a child so adoring of his mother.
    Can’t wait to catch up with you and share more memories of your Dad

  5. As usual,Diana says everything there is to be said and with such God-given insight.I love,Trish,that you share that your dad was an imperfect guy with an imperfect past.Isn’t that true of all of us?I became attached to him as you shared who he was.He had a mid-western sensibility,which is what I was raised up around.Someday you will tell Rudy’s children about their great grandpa.Won’t that be sweet?

  6. Your Dad left you with so many strengths and so much understanding. It’s meant to be that way! Your loss is God’s great gift! Enjot your sweet Rudy and your beautiful family, love, Jane and Joe

  7. Wow Trish. I have had tears in my eyes some of the nights as I pray for you and your family. You again wrote beautifully, I picture everything. I too love the picture of Rudy looking at you. I always love all of the pictures. Hugs……

  8. Trish, I can only imagine what you are going through. Yes, your father’s passing brings so much to the front of the fight your Rudy has fought along with your dad and now you’ve lost your dad. It must be so difficult, but look at it as time Rudy had to spend with his Grandpa and get great pictures and wonderful stories for the future and now he has his very own special angel with Our Father guiding the rest of his journey. God takes as he gives only this time he allowed some overlap. As you shared in your posting of special moments and memories of your father, keep them close to your heart as a comfort in times of stress and know that you don’t have to wait for a phone call or email he is right there for you at all times. Much love and prayeers to you and the entire family.

  9. God blesses you sweet mommy……
    thank you for sharing such intimate moments with me..with us. It is comforting and encouraging as we all move down the road to our Beloved Lord.
    Rudy’s sweet smile towards you warmed my heart and made me smile, both within out without. He is so precious.

    I admire you so much….having made a similar journey with my son.
    Your entire family is in my prayers.
    Please kiss Rudy and sweet Rebecca Wilson for me.
    Much love,
    Mikey’s mom….Terilynn Daly

  10. Thanks, sweet daughter, for your beautifully written tribute to your Dad. I am so happy you were with us when he “ran to Jesus”. My heart is at peace with the beauty of Dick’s last 21 months with me — he was actually home all of the time, a rare joy for me. We danced in the kitchen, went out for personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut, watrched Fox News and John Wayne movies (in between his Yankee baseball games)! It was a precious time of sharing and preparing as he made a list of things for me to do when he was gone–four pages of what to do, how, when, etc. I am at peace and thankful for our 54 years of hills and valleys. God honored our commitment to Him and to each other. Thanks for coming “home” to be with us.

  11. How beautiful, Trish! I know we already talked about it, but you put it so beautifully here, as well. I love that picture of you and Rudy at the hospital on your lap. You can tell that he is so happy to see his Mom again. Too sweet!

  12. Thanks for sharing your very nice tribute message! I am so glad you got time with your dad. Touching story!

  13. Peace be with all of you. My Dad, who is 91, also taught us pinochle; you don’t hear about it much anymore, so we have more in common from here-Ct.- to Calif. thinking of all, Nick’s Grandma

  14. Thanks for sharing you thoughts about the final days of his journey. We are always thinking and praying or Rudy. Death is one of those bittersweet journeys that allows us to reflect and feel the closeness of the heavens. Just think, Rudy has another angel in his cheering section!

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