When my Dad went home from rehab three weeks ago, he “officially ” went home with hospice care. I don’t know what images that conjures up for you but for me I pictured dark, shadowed, quiet rooms. People told me that was not true but I just couldn’t feature how it would be.

In the long run, it didn’t matter. My Dad was done with hospitals, rehab, lack of privacy, noisy roommates and living from crisis to crisis. After three months of being in and out of hospitals he wanted to go home. Home to the house he built 57 years ago. Home where every creak was familiar, the bed his own. My Mom wanted him home. We all suddenly knew it was the right decision and we all wanted him home.

The people at Faith Hospice care have supported my Dad and us. They decided what of his many meds he could drop. They said he could do whatever he felt like doing. A home health aide comes twice a week to help. The nurse comes once a week. Both of these can be increased but for now it is enough.

His first goal was to be able to attend my nephew’s wedding reception. I went home that weekend to enjoy the celebration. I was apprehensive . But there were my parents, together again, at home. My nephew’s new family members from Brazil were in town. They came to meet and visit with my parents. They were wonderfully loud, enthusiastic and declared we were all now “family”. They brought chaos, laughter and a vibe that was good medicine for my Dad.

My parents made it to the reception and were among the last to leave. At one point my Dad called my niece over. We all thought we was ready to go but he just wanted to be “more in the thick of things”. My parents had wonderful visits with some of their nieces and nephews. When the day was over, they were both tired but it was the tired that came from a day filled with wonderful memories.

The next day some of our new Brazilian family members came over to visit and to see me before I headed back to Chicago. There were people all over the living room. Adults playing games with the great grand children, phone calls to Brazil and laughter. Into this happy chaos came the home health aide. “It isn’t always this chaotic at my folks house”, I said. “Shoot!”, she responded, “this is exactly the kind of chaos that is good for your Dad.” I wanted to hug her.

Since then my Dad has gone to a Fourth of July BBQ…with 18 people. He went to church on Sunday for the first time in months. He eats what he wants (bacon, lots of bacon), naps when he’s tired. Yesterday he went out to the mailbox to leave a letter for the mailman. They have a good-sized drive way. On the way back he stopped to pull some weeds.

His quality of life the last few weeks has surpassed his quality of life for all the past three months put together. He has said it is a relief to know he never has to go back to the hospital again. My Mom has him home…in all the fullness of what that word means.

We have a cottage rented in Michigan for a week in early August. My brother and his family from Washington DC are coming for that. We will see. I’m learning to take each day as it comes. If it is a good day for my parents, it is a good day for all of us.

It is an adjustment to live not in crisis mode. It wasn’t just my Dad living that way. It was my Mom and all of us. It was sleep robbing and spirit sucking. It feels good to breath deeply again.

There are no dark, shadowed rooms at my parents. It is not quiet or somber. It is living at their pace with sunlight flooding in the windows. It is the joyous noise of family. Of holding great grand babies and playing with great grand children. It is filled with, “remember when…..? It is good.

None of us has any guarantee of days. I’m learning to view life that way.

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