Journal entry by Molly Brooke

Yesterday was a long exhausting day for us.  While we are at peace that dad is no longer suffering (and reunited with our dear Angie), the actual loss is still so heavy!  The only good thing about cancer is that it gave us a chance to prepare a bit and say our goodbyes... But it still is hard and difficult!

Dad passed away lying next to the love of his life in his heaven on earth(the cabin).  It was a peaceful passing as mom woke up at 4am and he was breathing ok and then around 6am, he made a noise and two breaths and he was gone.  Rose called us down from the garage so we could all give him our love once more.  He was surrounded by mom, Rosie, Matt, Teresa, Todd, Mariah and myself.  Rest in pain-free peace dad!  We love you so much!  One thing we noticed throughout the day was it appears dads sendoff from earth was highlighted with a gentle snowfall, just the way he would have liked!  That seemed to give us some comfort on this sad day! 

We met with the funeral director and the priest yesterday (both are wonderful at what they do and we are so thankful they are on this journey with us).  The visitation will be at the parish center across the street from St. Joseph Catholic Church(in Hayward, WI) from 4-6pm on Friday January 4th.  And the funeral will be at 11am at the church on Saturday January 5th.  In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in dads memory to the Hayward Community Foodshelf(16216W Hwy 63, Hayward  Wi 54843).  This is a true passion of his and where dad volunteered for most of his retirement.  

Again, thanks so much for the outpouring love and support you have all shown us these past several months.  It really has helped make this journey a little bit more tolerable!  And I will always sign off by saying dad's motto... "be kind"!  Love to all!

PS.  Attached is a picture of the ornaments mom chose to give each grandchild this year for Christmas.  So appropriate on so many levels! 
PSS... Finally figured out how to do a video(well... Rosie did it for me😉) and we found this one from dad this past summer!  It is a treasure!  Enjoy!  ❤️
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Journal entry by Molly Brooke

Just got off phone with Matt as I am still home with the boys after Santa's visit and things are looking extremely bleak(not that we were expecting a different outcome but...) Dad has not gotten out of bed at all today(which is a first) and has become non responsive as well.  So of course we are definitely getting down to the end.  Again, he still could hang on for a few more days but I highly doubt it will be much longer.  He hasn't taken any water today as well.  The nurse came and checked on him today and his BP and breathing and all of his vitals are still normal and regular but it seems the cancer has taken a hold of everything else.  I never heard this but back when dad was initially diagnosed, he had stated that he just wanted to make it through the holidays.  (I will admit, I never thought that would happen.)  Well, dad, you made it!  One last Christmas with your family on earth!  Yay and thank you! Next Christmas(and forever more) will not be the same.

To recap the last couple of days, he had lots of family as well as friends visiting.  Christmas day he got out of bed but stayed in his wheelchair and appeared to be confused and not able to take it all in.  One thing that is so hard about this happening at Christmas is that for years dad has always made a Christmas ornament for each grandchild out of wood and painted them as well.  Well, unknowingly, last year was our last one.  And I know my boys love looking at them each year and placing them on the tree.  They try to guess what this year's ornament will be (he has done stars, charlie brown, cabin replica, all sorts of things).  Well this year they will get an ornament but it will be a surprise and a bit bittersweet.  The tradition will continue on... Just not homemade as the rest of us aren't that talented.  😉

Anyway... Sorry I can't be more upbeat but I know everyone is wondering how things are going.  Matt is there with mom now and I hope to get up there again tomorrow.  I'll keep you posted and in the meantime ... Always be kind! 

Journal entry by Molly Brooke

Just got off the phone with mom and she said she feels so good today.  We decided dad chose to give her a nice Christmas gift of a good night's sleep.  She said he woke up at 3 and had some more medicine and he is now still sleeping at 9am.  Mom woke up at 7 and feels like a new woman.  Thank you dad!

Apparently after Terry and I left for home, dad had a second wind and was present and awake for supper and the good neighborly company of Dick and Al and Mary.  Rosie made a great supper of salad and sandwiches for all and dad even had a little wine with everyone.  First time in a long time he has had wine(or anything other than water, really... Although he did ask for coffee yesterday but didn't really drink it). 

I know I have said before that the goodbyes are the hardest part for me and yesterday was no different.  However, it was a goodbye that I will never forget for the rest of my life.  Dad was able to give me a loose hug, along with a light tap on my back.  The feeling of that hug will never ever leave me!  He also managed to say I love you as well.  I never really truly appreciated hearing those words as much as I did then.  I always knew it... And he never let me forget it ever ... But to hear it again was extra special and will never be forgotten.  Merry Christmas to me!  ❤️

Anyway with this short update I wish you all a happy holidays and may you treasure the little things as well as the big ones.  Look for them... They are there when you least expect it.  Be sure and hug everyone and remind them how much you love them!  That doesn't cost a dime and can be worth a million dollars!  Have a kind Christmas eve!  Love to all! 

Journal entry by Molly Brooke

Yesterday was a busy day at the cabin.  Laura, April and Ellie were the first to arrive with Vince and mitch right behind them.  It was nice as they were just in time for a visit from Fr. Gerard.  Fr. blessed us all and gave the last rites for dad as well.  It was such a nice visit as Fr. Is a very congenial priest and we are so thankful we have him.  He stayed for an hour or so and took the time to get to know us as a family a little better.  Such a blessing to have him in our corner and so thankful he took the time out of his busy schedule for us.  Dad slept through most of the visit but Terry noticed when we were saying our prayers that dad was moving his lips and trying to say them with us... Even though his eyes were closed.  He managed to wake up enough and say 'God bless' to Fr. before he left.

Dad slept off and on most of the day with nothing to eat and little water.  Once in awhile he would wake for a minute or two and be lucid.  The other times he would wake and say stuff that was nonsense.  We are giving him liquid medicine now as he is struggling to swallow.  He was in and out of his chair and we put him to bed at his usual time around 8:00.  We were watching a movie and mom heard something from the bedroom.  We check it out only to see dad trying to sit up.  Not that he is ever alone... But now we need to have an eye on him at all times.  It's a high, hard fall (hardwood floors) if he tries to get out of bed on his own. Definitely do not want that to happen!

Mitch, Laura and april had to head home in the afternoon but Vince and Ellie stayed the night.  Vince was very helpful with his youthful muscles in helping us transfer dad to and from wheelchair.  (good training for his nursing career  😉)   Mom and rose said the night was restless again and this time he was yelling a few times.  Nothing of substance but in his becoming weaker... His voice also gets softer and we have a hard time understanding him at times.  (not when he yells though! 😜) We woke up to a very nice peaceful snowfall that has been going off and on all day.  Not amounting to much but very pretty.  Vince and Ellie had to head home early this morning and we managed to get dad up from bed... but this time he wanted to be on the couch.  Matt arrived around 11 and will stay for the night.  We have dad sitting on the couch sleeping away during the Vikings game.  Gooo vikings!!

Terry and I are heading home later sometime today as santa comes to our house tomorrow and we want to be home for that🎅.  Matt and Rosie will leave tomorrow morning to celebrate with Teresa's family on xmase eve.   The Sexe's arrive xmas eve morning and they will be here xmas eve and xmas morning.  Neighbor Dick is stopping over xmas day as well.  Then Vince, april, Ellie, Matt, Teresa and Rosie will come back on xmas day.  Not sure how long everyone is staying.  I will be back sometime soon as well.  Time will tell as dad is hanging in there.  I suppose he wants one last xmas here on earth with our family.  I hope so for his sake but time will tell.  While we are thankful he is hanging in there... We all know it is near the end and it becomes bittersweet. 

I will sign off with my usual reminder to always be kind but also... Happy holidays from all of us Callahan's to you and yours!  Be thankful for another year with your loved ones as the next xmas is never guaranteed!  I know we would have never dreamed this is how our Christmas was going to be this year.   Much love to all!! ♥️

Journal entry by Molly Brooke

Just a quick update.  Nothing new really to report.  Mom said dad slept pretty active through the night but now is sleeping soundly.  She said he was saying very random things such as "cleaning up that dirt" or "you go left, I'll go right" and so on.  Who knows what is going on upstairs with him but mom seems to find it humorous so that is good.

Every day is a little bit weaker but he always keeps us on our toes.  Mom and I are figuring out how to move the wheelchair around the tight spaces and it has been an adventure.  At one point dad had to go to the bathroom and so we were moving him to the wheelchair and told him to sit down slowly.  Mom said there is no hurry to which dad replied 'that's easy for you to say'.  But probably 10 (long) minutes later we got him there. 😉😊

It dawned on both mom and I at 9 last night that dad officially did not eat a thing yesterday.  He is still asking for water and he is still taking pills yet so we are hanging in there. 

Today will be a bit busy as Laura is bringing Mitch's kids up for a visit.  Vince and Ellie will stay the night but Laura and April will head back this afternoon as April has to babysit this evening.  It is nice they are coming up and nice the weather is allowing for safe travels for everyone.  I am anxious to see how dad does with everyone here(the next few days are going to have lots of different company coming and going so hopefully dad can manage it all!)  Hope to get him out of bed sometime so he can be around.  May need to use Terry's strength today so that will be nice to have as an option (he was working in the garage most of yesterday).  Will see how it goes today.

Until next time ... Always be kind!

Journal entry by Molly Brooke

So I arrived yesterday around 5 and dad was up in his chair.  He was sleeping but knew who I was when I woke him to say hi.  I know I have repeatedly said that he is so skinny but he is even skinnier than when I left him a week ago (and I didn't think he could get any skinnier.)  His face is sunken a bit so that is hard to see.  He recognized neighbor Dick when he stopped in for a bit and even was his usual polite personality and said how much he appreciated Dick stopping by.  Dick told him he got a haircut while he was in GA and of course it wasn't the same.  They just shaved it all around and not much conversation.  Nevertheless it is good to have Dick back next door again.

So mom says dad has not eaten much since I was here last Friday.  He did ask for some soup last night and that is when I notice he is still the most polite using his manners and saying thank you.  However, he is struggling to reach the spoon to the bowl to his mouth and drops the spoon and his cracker and such.  I know he hardly got anything in him.  Of course his stubbornness is still intact as he repeatedly refused our help in feeding him.  He wanted mom to sit beside him so she put a chair beside him and held his hand while he slept.  He reaches out in the air alot while sleeping and will wake up with some random mumbling. 

I was impressed and amazed and pleasantly surprised that he was in the chair...even if he is mostly sleeping.  However, it became a challenge when it was time to get him to bed for the night.  He started walking a little bit but then his legs and feet gave out and we had to carry him the rest of the way.  Luckily Terry was around to help us get him up into the bed.  Terry also ran into walgreens to pick up the liquid medications as we wanted them on hand for the night.  It turned out we didn't need them just yet as he was able to swallow the pills. 

Dad slept well through most of the night and is still in bed as of 10:00 this morning.  Mom said his body is stiff this morning and kind of hard to move.  He did sit up on the edge of the bed for a bit but has since then gone back to sleep.  She said he not as easily aware this morning and usually mornings are his best time of the day.  Essentially we are down to day by day as we will be surprised if we have a week left... Definitely not a month(and as mom always says, they can surprise us as it is the million dollar question as to how long it takes.)

Ok update... so he just woke up and asked for pain medication as he was having some pain.  We were able to get pills down once again but I am sure we will be using liquid meds soon.  We did get some water in him too so that is good.  He wants to get out into his chair but he isn't always alert enough help us.  We tried having him walk to the chair with the walker but ended using the wheelchair as his mind wants to walk but his legs just won't move.  When he sits up and is awake he tends to say random things such as "horsem" and "horsem grittle" out of the blue which always gets a chuckle out of mom, Rosie and I.  Just thankful he is out of bed for today.  

Am so glad I am able to be here to help mom out.  She is always saying that she couldn't do this without the support of her family...which is so true.  Dads care has become round the clock and is now much more physically taxing for mom so we need to be here.  And I wouldn't want it any other way.  And I know that if the situation were reversed, mom would be by our side as well.  (also very thankful for Terry's mom to come take care of my boys so I can be here!)   While it is a gloomy holiday for our family, we do try to find the things that we are thankful for no matter how big or small. 

As a true testament to the life mom and dad have lived, the support that has surrounded us during this time has been phenomenal!  Whether it be neighbors, family, friends or hospice nurses, we are so appreciative of all of the love you have displayed.  Whether it be through thoughts, prayers, notes, meals, visits,desserts, cards, emails, texts, phone calls, (I think you get the jist) ... THANK YOU! !  It all is much much appreciated!  Will try to keep you posted as often as possible!   Mom and dad definitely led by example in teaching me to be kind so with that, I will end this update.  

Journal entry by Molly Brooke

Dad waved his fist in the air at me today as I moved his walker away from him when he sat down in his chair.  He told me he didn't like it when I moved the walker so far away from him.  I said I was sorry but that was where it was when I first saw him.  That is when he attempted to smile and waved his fist in the air at me.  Good thing he doesn't believe in spankings, right Matt??  😉  (a long time ago Angie and Matt were having a conversation about mom and dad spanking them and as I entered the room I caught the tail end of it and was shocked that mom and dad spanked... Meaning *I * never got spanked.  But in reality I was just the good kid who didn't need spankings anyway!  Haha!  😅)   

Anyway today was a decent day for dad.  I feel he is weaker in his walking but he seemed to have more of an appetite today.  He actually ate breakfast, lunch AND dinner.  We were pleased with that.  While we were eating a delicious supper of shrimp pasta made by our very own personal chef took a drink of his wine, thinking it was water, and says "whew, that is fresh water" as he wasn't expecting wine.  Too funny!  He is weaker in his walking as he literally will stop mid-step and fall asleep standing up.  We have to wake him and redirect him to where he is supposed to go.  He just can't seem to go from one task to another without some prompting.  He will also be sitting or walking and just starts talking jibberish.  Saying things out of the blue that really have no rhyme or reason.  But our main focus right now is to keep him comfortable and without pain.  So we are able to get pills down still when he needs them.  We did have some company today but dad was drifting in amd out of sleep most of the visit.  But still, it is nice for mom to have the visits as I know she enjoys the company.  

This journey is definitely interesting for all of us.  Dad has such a healthy body that we are able to get these bonus days with him.  For that we are most grateful.  Yet I find it interesting that he says he isn't afraid of dying... But he is afraid of what's to come ... The unknown.  It really surprises me because if you know anything about dad, it is that he has always had such a strong faith.  Not sure what to make of that.  He says he worries about mom to which I tell him that we will take care of her.  He says she needs to relax and we are not sure what he means by that.  He could be joking, who knows??

We continue to get cards regularly every day.  Whether it be sympathy or Christmas cards, they are much appreciated!  Your kindness is noted and will not be forgotten.  Thank you for all of your thoughts, prayers, words of encouragement and just plain taking the time to reach out to us!  We are so grateful!  As always, keep on being kind!  ❤️

Journal entry by Molly Brooke

These updates are getting harder and harder to do.  Yet I know there are sooo many people out there wondering how dad is doing.  So I will try my best to keep up with the updates but forgive me if I am not as efficient as I used to be.  

I am at the cabin as of yesterday and it is the hardest visit since he was diagnosed.  Dad is still hanging in there but... It isn't dad anymore.  He is extremely weak and struggling to do the basics such as getting out of bed and walking.  So... With that being said, I (we all do) know that it most likely won't be much longer.  (but yet you never know as I thought we had more time with Angie which didn't happen so???)  

Dad does try... And is still able to do the basic things but it is a struggle.  When mom woke him up last evening as he had been sleeping for a while, it was so heartbreaking to see him.  The grunt sound that he made as we tried to help him out of bed was a sound that I don't think I have ever heard him do before.  It took him 2 hours to eat a half bowl of delicious vegetable soup that Rosie made as he keeps falling asleep.  Mom says that he does try to eat every day, however, he has vomited most every day as well.  He literally is skin and bones.  In true dad form, he doesn't complain at all.  We have made some adjustments to hopefully make things easier for him... And mom.  He now has a bedside commode.  We put a footstool to give him a step up to get in bed.  We still try to adjust his meds so that mentally he can be aware but... Not sure if it is the meds or the cancer that is causing the confusion and frustration.  Time will tell.  We have to remind dad to keep moving when we are trying to get him out of bed.  Dad mostly sleeps in bed then moves to the chair and sleep some more.  Not much conversation going on anymore.  So hard! 

And there is mom... A real trooper.  She is hanging in there too.  It can't be easy for her to watch the love of her life slowly fade away.  And as you all know, we are suffering the loss of Angie on top of all of this.  Mom said she just can't think about Angie right now because she would just cry and cry.  I worry about her strength ... She is so petite that the physical help she provides for dad is getting more challenging.  Matt is now officially done with teaching for the holidays so he will be more available to help(as if he hasn't already been available enough).  He will be arriving later today.  

In the meantime, it is the holidays.  I am trying to be there, for the boys' sake, but I am struggling.  There was one day that I just had a hard time.  I just couldn't... I just couldn't bring myself to smile as easily.  I just couldn't fake that everything was ok as easily.  And I cried and cried and cried.  The tears wouldn't stop.  And the hardest part was... I didn't have Angie to talk to. But I did talk to her.  I had to.  I needed to.  I wanted to... more than anything.

Anyway, like I said, these posts are getting harder and harder.  But I will try to do my best to keep you updated.  And as always, signing off with my reminder to be kind... Always!  ❤️

Journal entry by Molly Brooke

Well, yesterday we laid our sweet sweet Angie to rest.  Absolutely the hardest day of all of our lives.  She was taken way too soon.  Even though she fought for over a year, she was taken way too fast.  She was the rock of our family.  The glue that holds our family together, the one everyone went to when we needed advice, a sympathetic ear, or a shoulder to cry on.  She got us!  She understood!  She didn't judge!  She knew exactly the right thing to say, do, or not say, not do.  Never in a million years would I have guessed she would be the first to have to leave us all.  Our daughter, sister, wife, mom, aunt, teacher, speech pathologist, friend and best friend!  By the tremendous outpouring of cards, donations, attendance and support throughout all of this, I can honestly say that others saw her exactly the same way we did.  What a gift she was to us all!  Like my son Charlie said when we told him she had passed... "God picked the best flower from the garden".  How true is that?  Thank you!  Thank you everyone for all of your love and support and encouragement throughout this horrible time in our lives!

Mom and dad were both able to make it down to attend the visitation and funeral.  They stayed with me and managed to get through it all.  Mom said either we both come down or we both miss it as she wasn't going to leave dad with anyone else (rightfully so).  I feel it went as well as it could have, given the circumstances.  Dad still has his incredible sense of humor, which keeps us on our toes, and always laughing.  However, he tires much easily.  He isn't as easy going as he normally is, and is anxious to get going when he is ready to go... Whether it be home or bed or exercise or whatever.  Many a time my phone calls end with mom yelling 'honey, honey, where are you going?' and then telling me she will call me back later as she has to follow dad wherever he has decided to go.  (she never fails to tell me she loves me before hanging up though).  It was a long, exhausting day(s)... And for sure the hardest day in dad's 85 years!   I am sure dad (and mom) are resting for much of today.  Don't think dad will have too much energy today for much of anything other than sleep.  Dad's appetite comes and goes(more absent lately).  He still vomits, with not really any rhyme or reason.  It seems eggs are the food choice, and one that he can keep down.  He depends on mom and she is such a rock through it all.  Here she is having to grieve her daughter's(and best friend) death, and yet maintain her sanity enough to take care of dad.  (I am having a hard time knowing what day it is yet she has to remember dads pills and what he needs when and how much and all.)  Dad is grieving as well but... He also isn't thinking as clear due to his medications and illness.  Kind of in la la land at times.  Mom has to keep going, and not really take time off for herself to grieve because dad needs her and to be taken care of.  Ugh!  Death never comes at a good time but... If there ever was a bad time for mom, I would say this is one of them.

Anyway, I really do not intend to make this such a downer of an entry, but right now, I am just expressing what it is for us.  Can't see much light right now.  I know they say everything happens for a reason but... I just do not see a reason here at all.  Only a huge void in my life.  I know I am not the first one, or only one to go through this, or something similar, but if we could find a cure for this cancer, it would save the world alot of heartache.  Hopefully soon it will happen!  I have to have faith, even when I question it.  It is the only thing that will help me get through this. 

As evident by the outpouring of love and support over the last couple of days, Angie exhuded kindness to no end as she reached so many people in so many ways.  So with that note, I will still end with the advice ... Always be kind!

Journal entry by Molly Brooke

Well... what a journey us Callahan's have been on for the last year.  While still figuring out Angie's journey for her endometrial cancer(diagnosed a year ago this week), we were dealt another blow to the heart!  Let's just do a little recap of dad's summer.  
Dad has been complaining of stomach and back pain intermittently for the past 2 or 3 months.  Mom had taken him to the local doctor and they ordered xrays and an endoscopy of his esophageal area.  Biopsy came back negative.  It is just arthritis in his back and acid reflux in his stomach.  Mom asked if this all could be from stress(thinking of Angie and her journey) to which the doctor replied "certainly".  So they came home and went about their usual daily routine (dad was even cutting wood one day).  Dad was prescribed his first continuous prescription of Lipitor in 84 years (we think the doctor felt that he didn't want dad to feel left out and not have any prescription medicines at 84 years old).  😂

In the meantime, a scheduled annual trip to Angie's to make apple pies was happening on Saturday of last week but when dad had another bad night, mom woke up on Thursday and said... We are going to have you looked at in the cities.

They drove down to Woodbury (saw Angie briefly ) and went to the urgency room.  Had a wonderful doctor there who did an xray.  Came back into the room and said we need to do a scan as we see spots on your liver.  Did the scan and came back into the room with the news of pancreatic cancer that has spread to his liver and abdomen.  Of course mom was just flabbergasted.  Just unbelievable !!!  Mom put her arms in the air and said, "you are kidding me"!!  The doctor said let's get you to the hospital and have a biopsy as well as get set up with palliative care.   Chemotherapy was not recommended and dad did not want to do that. 

So off to the hospital we went.  

At 84 years old, dad had his first overnight stay in the hospital (he wasn't even born in a hospital ).  A biopsy was done on his liver on Friday morning and he was discharged that afternoon to Molly's house in Cottage Grove until Sunday (have to get the pies made!!)  Palliative care was set up and has been wonderful in helping get dad back home. 

As previously planned, a visit to help with pies and to see Angie, Hannah (Matt's oldest) flew in from Montana and Mariah (Angie's youngest) flew in from Pennsylvania on Friday.  With the help of several grandchildren, and the abundance of Todd's apple tree, 19 large apple pies were made and frozen for our enjoyment over the winter.  A little applesauce and apple crisp was made as well. 

Mom and dad made it home on Sunday afternoon.  Neighbor Dick was there to help get dad settled in and unload the car. 

Dad has been in pain and has had lots of nausea as well since Friday.  Hospice was here Monday afternoon and we are making some changes to his medication in the hopes that he will get some relief and can get some food in him.  Last night he was able to eat a couple of crackers and drink some ginger ale so we were pleased with that.  He is still able to walk but he is weak on his feet.  Wakes up for a short time and then back to bed.  He has lost lots of weight over the summer so we need to get some strength back into him. 

We have made arrangements so that one of us kids are always here for mom and dad for the next two weeks at least.  We hope to get him comfortable and able to enjoy some more days soon.  Until then, we can only take each day at a time.   Mom is a strong woman and has a huge support system throughout all of this. She is amazing!  Have to remember to treat her as a wife and not a nurse through all of this!

Always be kind and hug your loved ones often!
Paul’s Story

Site created on October 2, 2018

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