Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.
Here's the original email we sent out to alert people to the situation.
Dear family and friends,
Here’s an update on my father-in-law, Dave. Given that Carol and I have had different conversations with different people at different times, some of this information may be repetitive for some of you, but we wanted to bring everyone up to speed. We also wanted to let those of you who know us better than you know Dave know where we’re at as well and to expect slower than normal email response times, etc.
And since Carol’s been dealing with hundreds of baby goats and a new foal as well as the normal ranch work in addition to Dave, she asked me to update everyone. Recently, Carol, Ken, and Susan made the difficult decision to invoke hospice. Dave’s kidney disease has progressed significantly and his kidney doctor did not think he would be a good candidate for dialysis, something all three children agreed with. As a result, we expect his kidney function to continue to decline. There’s no expectation that he will pass away in the near term (although that is possible), but weeks or perhaps even a few months is the likely timeline.
I’m at the ranch this weekend; I was here last weekend too. A decline is noticeable just in that short time - he’s a lot shakier in walking and cannot really walk unassisted any distance (even from the couch to the table in the game room). On the plus side, last night he managed to say grace without having trouble with the words and over dinner we had a nice conversation about the winters in Cleveland, ducks, and his paper route as a boy. That was one of the longer conversations I’ve had with him recently.
Yesterday, while I was driving here, he fell in the game room. Fortunately, he didn’t break anything and was just bruised and shaken up (although by the time Carol got him up and into a chair, he was denying he had fallen and cussing her out - so he’s still capable of being feisty). Then, around 5 or 6 this morning, he got up but tripped (as far as we can tell) on the comforter that he’d pushed onto the floor. Carol spotted him down on the monitor, so we went in and it took us about an hour to get him back up and into the wheelchair (which he absolutely despises). I don’t think either of us could have gotten him up alone - it really took two people.
Carol called the hospice folks per the protocol and they sent 2 people out here to help us. Those wonderful nurses checked him over, managed to help him change, and reassured us. Despite a number of tussles, we’ve ferried him back and forth to the bathroom several times in the wheelchair (again, a huge fight each time to get him to use it). Another wonderful man from hospice delivered a hospital bed for us and set it up in Dave’s room, which will help avoid nighttime falls. It’s amazing that we can get that level of service all the way from San Angelo here.
He continues to have an excellent appetite and does not seem to be in any particular discomfort (aside from being a bit shaken up by the falls and his chronic shoulder issues).
Medically, I’m not sure if there is much recent change, but cognitively I think he’s slipping noticeably and physically he has declined quite a bit over the last few weeks and even more in the last 24 hours. The change since Christmas is significant.
Phone conversations are unlikely to be very extended beyond a greeting and a few minutes of shouting (due to his hearing loss), plus he sleeps a great deal during the day, so catching him awake and alert is a matter of luck. If you are in the area, you stopping by to say hello is something he’d enjoy, but don’t expect more than a couple of minutes of conversation before he wears out. He does seem to enjoy looking at the mail, so I’m sure he’d welcome a card. He likes to see pictures too - especially animals, family members, friends, etc., which you can share via Carol’s email - firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com).
If you’re in the area and would like to do something for him, he still loves chocolate chip cookies, so bringing him a few of those is a great contribution. Carol is here full time, our daughter Kathleen is here part time as well, and I’m coming as many weekends as I can.
Please feel free to share this email with others who know and love Dave, Carol, Ken, and Susan and whom I inadvertently left off the list. I know Dave touched many lives in his 91 years and so there will be plenty of people who will want to share this sad news and add him to their prayers.
If you’d like to keep getting updates, we’ve set up a Caring Bridge site where we will post further news. It is here: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/davidakers2 Please
) share that as well.
You can also post messages for Dave, Carol, Ken, Susan, and the rest of us there. I am sure Carol, Ken, and Susan would appreciate any good stories you’ve got - and Dave loves talking about his life on the ranch and growing up in Cleveland, so sharing things we can remind him about is a wonderful gift. (Posting something there would be better than calling in terms of keeping the time demands down on Carol.)