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Tom, my Father-in-Law

On February 26, 2013, my husband went with his dad to have an MRI done on his brain.  He was having, what the doctor thought were a series of mini strokes and they wanted to see what was going on. Within a very short amount of time following the MRI, they were told that they had found a tumor in Tom's brain. 

They were sent to the ER to wait on a neuro-surgeon  to meet with them and unfortunately, that took quite a bit of time. Sean's mom spent every day by Tom's side, Sean spent every evening there after work and by the end of the week his brother had come into town and they were all staying at the hospital for 8 to 12 hours at a time.

On March 4, 2013, the doctors finally scheduled a biopsy to see exactly what was going on. The doctor reported that it was cancer and that it was the most aggressive of it's kind.  It was a type of cancer that was taking over/eating away at his brain, it wasn't a mass growing on his brain, it was literally attacking his brain tissue.

Sean's brother went home after the biopsy and returned 11 days later.  By this time, Tom was moved from the hospital to a nursing home where they had hopes of Tom getting stronger and improving.  At the time that he was in the hospital, he was far too weak to receive treatment and the cancer itself was inoperable (because of the location and what would be damaged to retrieve the mass, plus there was not guarantee that it would stop the mass from continuing to grow).  The doctors prepared Sean, his mom and brother that if things don't progress, that time was not on their side. 

The day before Sean's brother returned, the nursing home doctors reviewed the information from the hospital and told them that Tom might have a few days to a few weeks left.  Something that no one was prepared to hear, but after the review of information, it was pretty clear that this was going to be the potential timeline.

Tom was very weak and the tumor was effecting EVERYTHING that Tom did.  Everything.  His need or ability to eat, his ability to get out of bed, his ability to recall certain events that had happened within the last few months or days, the ability to answer fairly simple questions, and the ability to eventually swallow or speak.

Within the next 16 days, Tom was moved to the nursing home, Sean's brother returned for 8 days and his family of 6 joined him to visit with Tom during some of his last really good days (comparatively speaking). During that time, Sean and I had a planned trip to Florida that we had every intention of cancelling, but after hearing from the doctors on Thursday, that week (March 21st), about Tom's condition, we decided to still go.  There was a LOT of guilt felt during this time away.  Not only about Tom, Sean's family and everything else involved but for out kids as well.  When we returned, Tom was not doing very well and it became very evident that his body was starting to shut down.

In 32 days, Tom went from basically a functioning 69 year old man, with some short term memory loss and lack of energy to a 69 year old man that was now, completely bedridden and unable to speak.  The deterioration of one person, in 32 days, is just unbelievable and completely unimaginable. 

I have said a couple of times that because of how things played out, I'm just in shock.  I'm sure that this is a common feeling that most are feeling right now.  I mean, 32 days is not a lot of time.  And for the most part, he was pretty healthy.  There were a few unhealthy things that we knew about, but nothing that ever indicated the events over the next 32 days.

Death can be scary and so unpredictable.  You're never fully prepared to say everything that you've ever wanted to say, right in those last moments.  I remember hearing Sean say that while he wanted to say things to his dad or ask his dad questions, he also didn't want to depress his dad more by preparing him for what was about to happen. And yet, in those moments, the things that are said, radiate in your mind and memory forever.

March, 30, 2013 at about 10am, Tom passed away, peacefully. 

 December 2012, just 4 months ago. 

With that, I'll leave you with verses that will be read by Sean's brother at Tom's memorial this weekend and a little note to Tom.

John 14:1-21

New King James Version (NKJV)

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

14 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions;[a] if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.[b] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

The Father Revealed

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

The Answered Prayer

12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask[c] anything in My name, I will do it.

Jesus Promises Another Helper

15 “If you love Me, keep[d] My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

Indwelling of the Father and the Son

19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”


You were a great father to your boys and you will never ever be forgotten.  You'll be happy to know that I'm comforted by the memory of your laugh that was naturally produced by something that I probably did and because of that I cannot help but smile when I think about you and your impact on my life.

We love and miss you very very much.

Jill, your Daughter-in-Law


Kim Donald said…
Oh, Jill, I am so sorry for you and your family! How devastating. I'm keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers.
Allison said…
Like I said on FB, I am so very sorry for you, Sean, and your family's loss. You'll all continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.
Jeannie said…
Oh my Jill, I'm not sure what to say here; other than, I'm so sorry! I'm sorry your family had to endure such a tragedy. Having lost a parent to cancer, I know first hand how tough watching someone deteriorate can be. Please know your family is in my thoughts and prayers.
Cathleen said…
I am so sorry for you loss. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family.
Sarah said…
Oh goodness - I'm so late to reading things.

I'm so sorry for your loss. You wrote such sweet words about him.

Hugs to you and your husband.

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