Family and Friends of George McCracken

George McCracken is my Father. He's 73 years old. This past September he was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. Our family is spread across the country spanning three time zones and this blog is an attempt to create a place where we can all share information. Feel free to post updates from calls home to Ma or whatever related random thoughts you might feel like sharing.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Goodbye to a good man

Yesterday I had the opportunity to say goodbye to Dad. I thought that yesterday would be a good day to go see him. He’d traveled home from the Hospital on Monday and I knew he would be exhausted. I figured that Tuesday he might be a little stronger and that this would be my best chance at spending some time with him. I’m glad I made the trip.

Dad was in a lot of pain throughout the day. His burping was constant and painful. We had to help him sit up to get the gas out. He’d sit up for five minutes or so and then lay back on his pillows. Getting him to let go of the bars on the hospital bed was at times difficult. You could see him struggling to hold on to what life was left inside him. He made it to his chair from the bed and back once. It took 10 to 15 minutes for each trip.

Ma was amazing. Every time he made a noise or a move to get up she’d be by his side offering comforting words and trying to figure out how to help him. The mixed look of compassion, devotion and pain in her eyes was inspiring. She truly did the best she could for him. To the end, she was the one he looked to. Ma fulfilled the promise made on their wedding day. Only in death did they part.

I played the video we’d shot when everyone was together a week ago. It was his most lucid period. For fully 20 minutes he focused his attention on the television while images of his beloved children and grandchildren danced across the screen. It seemed to comfort him and make him happy.

In all I spent over 7 hours with him. I wanted to leave by 7:00PM so I could get home at a decent hour. At 6:35PM Ma went into the kitchen to get something to eat. I was left alone with him. For the next 25 minutes I held his hand and told him how much I would miss him that I would love him forever. He knew I was there. He looked up at me and then looked away. He squeezed my hand and rubbed it briefly with his thumb. Just before I left I told him I was proud to have been his son. I think I was speaking for all of us. I kissed and hugged him once more and then I had to leave.

At 5:40AM when my phone rang I knew my Mother would be on the other end. She said he died peacefully in his sleep. I’m glad. He had suffered enough. The curse of Pancreatic Cancer is that is takes our loved ones so quickly. The blessing is that they don’t have long to suffer and we each have the opportunity to say goodbye. A good man passed into that great beyond yesterday surrounded by those that loved him. I guess I’ll be seeing all of you very soon.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Lots of Prayers

My church (and Eileen's, too) and many friends across the world are praying for our family now, that we'll all feel the peace and comfort that surpasses all understanding. Hang in there, everybody.

I don't have any news, but wanted to share a comment that Mom made when we talked Sunday night. She said she always used to tell Dad she planned to die first so she wouldn't have to live without him, but now it doesn't look like it will work out that way. But that no matter how hard it is to face the end of their time together, she still feels incredibly lucky to have had 52 years with the love of her life. I told her she should be proud that they skewed the hell out of the divorce statistics. That made her laugh, which is all I guess we can do for her right now. Maybe she can share some funnies with Dad when he's awake. Dad always likes a good joke, a reason to smile, an excuse to laugh. I hope we all find them, even now. It's what he would want for us.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Headed For Home

I just talked to Kevin, Dad will be coming home early this afternoon. It's just a question of whether he gets there before the bed. They will be transporting him by ambulance, much easier for all concerned. Kim will be driving Mom home, and I guess Hospice will be there to help set him up. I don't know much more than that, but I'll check in with Mom this evening.
I don't know how everyone else feels, but I don't know whether I want to scream, cry, or throw up. I'm so torn up; the quicker he goes, the less he suffers, but the sooner we lose the best man we will ever have the privilege to know. Where do we go from here?

Coming loss...

Yesterday I realized that Dad is going home for probably the last time. I am sad beyond anything I’ve felt before in my life. Even when Brigette was at her lowest point, I always believed that she would recover. I feel guilty that I want his time to be short; he was too good a man in life to suffer like this at the end of it. I feel guilty that I want him to fight long enough to talk with him one more time. Andrea tells me, “You’ll always want one more time”, and she’s right. I will always want one more word, one more touch, one more smirk, one more laugh, one more wink...

Soon there will only be memories left, memories of a man that lived his life for his children, for his true love, for each of us. Yet, I still see Dad even when I’m not around him. I see him in my brothers, in my mirror and in my sons. I see him in an occasional expression and I hear him in a turn of phrase. But most often I see him in their deeds and in their work ethic. I see him in the energy they put in to their lives.

His legacy has been passed on and accepted by those of us that survive him. We in turn will pass his legacy on as our own when the time comes. Until then we can only hope to live up to this legacy of love and devotion that he has shown to us.