Journal

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!
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Journal entry by Molly Brooke

It's the little things... Today seemed to be a bit better for dad.  Dad woke up for a visit from Fr. Gerard and was blessed by him.  Turns out Fr. Gerard and dad both have 7 sisters and 5 brothers in their families.  They couldn't rehash too many childhood stories as dad was ready to get back to bed, and 13 kids is alot of ground to cover.  We also found out Fr. Gerard is cutting hair without a license so he hopes dad will be able to give him some tips sometime soon!  😉

As I ran into walgreens to get the new pain medicine (MS contin for those in the medical field), the hospice social worker came by for a visit with mom.  She brought a shower chair for us to use as dad was asking to take one soon. 

As mom and I were sitting at the kitchen table, we heard the birkie bell going off. (for those of you that don't know... Dad skied the birkiebiener cross country ski race every year for at least 15 years... They use cow bells to cheer on the racers during the race.  We have several bells and finally are putting one to good use for signaling help from dad in the bedroom). Dad was awake and actually had a dream about mash potatoes.  So I said we have the fixings if you would like some and he said yes.  Dad ate a fist size portion of potatoes and gravy so we were happy to have some more food in him. 

Matt was coming later so he was going to help him get his shower going.  I guess it went well but wore dad out so he went back to bed. 

While I sit here having a glass of wine in honor of dad, I appreciate all of the kind words and thoughts and prayers from everyone.  I hope you realize how much it means to all of us... Most especially mom at this time and hopefully we can share them with dad soon.  Thank you so much!  It is nice to know that others see dad the same way we do.  He is definitely one of a kind!  Again, be kind and hug often!  ❤️

Journal entry by Molly Brooke

While I was unable to be with mom and dad today, Matt has kept me posted and has sent some videos and a picture.  When we found out yesterday that today was supposed to be warm, our goal was to get dad outside on the deck.  With Matt's help, mom and dad spent a good hour out on the deck enjoying the next best thing to heaven.  The lake was so calm and peaceful!  Dad was awake the most he has been (3 hours at once) since the diagnosis but we are still working on his appetite.  Only ate two pieces of toast.  But he was ending the day like he has for the last almost 60 years..  with a glass of wine with the love of his life!  ❤️🍷  Hope today is a sign of more improvements.  I am going to try to post the picture and videos to recap the day.  Hopefully I will be able to figure it out.. 😉  Anyway... Be kind and give hugs often!

Ok..  Sidenote....able to get picture posted but haven't figured out the video just yet.  Will try again later as it is my bedtime now!  Keep checking back if you are interested.

Journal entry by Molly Brooke

Exactly one week ago today, our world was turned upside down when we received dad's cancer diagnosis.  It is baffling how fast his health and strength has deteriorated. Dad has been saying 'it is what it is' alot throughout this last week.  And yes, it is what it is but... It doesn't mean it is fair and that we have to like it.  

 Dad's day today started out somewhat uneventful.  He slept most of the day.  He has borrowed a walker from his fantastic neighbor Dick and I think he feels more comfortable trying to walk around with that.  "The walker even has a tray", he says... Which is actually the seat.  Mom said he woke up this morning and had yet to eat anything but he still vomited.  So his nausea is still lingering.  After a call to the hospice nurse, we are hoping to find a different anti-nausea medicine for him as the current one isn't working.  When I arrived at 3, he was still sleeping as he had been most of the day.  He woke up in anticipation for a visit with the grandkids from Mitch and was able to eat a piece of toast and a few bites of apple crisp.  He was able to stay awake for over 2 hours for the visit.  He couldn't stop saying how much he appreciated them driving up to see him just for the evening.  Of course the visits are difficult as it is hard to see dad so weak and also, we never know for sure if this could be our last goodbye hug from him.  

While it is hard to see dad going down hill so fast, I am so very thankful that I have the opportunity to be here with both mom and dad.  Mom was telling him that 'we need to make sure that we bring the pop inside' to which he replied... 'by we, you mean me'.  His sense of humor is definitely still intact... Thankfully!  When he was up at one time, mom was being the natural born nurse that she is and asking 'how is your pain', 'do you need more pills', 'are you hungry', 'are you passing gas'.  Of course he is still as witty as can be with his responses so mom says "well there is nothing wrong with your brain, it is still working".  Dad quickly replies "it's finally kicking in".   Amidst the organized chaos (to dad anyway) of his 'workshop' in the garage, he can tell us exactly where a piece of paper, or a special tool, is located. 

I know that dad is the one suffering physically but he sleeps most of the day.  It is mom (and the rest of us) who are suffering emotionally.  I truly treasure my time with mom.  We stayed up until midnight with a glass of wine while she shared stories of the past and their relationship and family.  It has me asking questions that I have always wanted to ask but just never have.  I really thought mom and I had a close relationship as it is (I consider her one of my best friends, fortunately). But I am finding that it is possible to become even closer to her through this journey.  She thinks the world of dad... As we all do.  She is struggling to think of life without dad... As we all are. But I think the world of her as she has been so brave and strong through all of this.  She is a rockstar and is treasuring all of the time she can with dad.  After 60 years (almost... November 15), if that isn't love, I don't know what is!  ❤️

Anyway, sorry to get so sappy!  Be kind and hug tight!!

Journal entry by Molly Brooke

As I was getting ready to head home, dad asked me to go up to the garage and bring a beer down.  I then asked "any particular flavor" to which he replied "do we have any killians"?  I had no idea what kind of beer we have and then he proceeded to say "I don't want no girly beer!"  Lo and behold, in walks Todd and Angie and they brought some spotted cow so dad was happy.  I left so I am unsure as to how much of it he drank but at least he may be getting an appetite... Even if it is beer!

Today was actually a good day!  He was awake more than he was asleep.  I could just hear it in his voice that he had a little more energy and strength.  I feel he took advantage of me while mom went into town and he just had to escape to the garage.  He grabbed his jacket and stocking cap and away we went.  I was more than happy to accompany him but I had to keep reminding him to slow down so he doesn't fall.  He just had to check on some things and show me where some things are kept.  I was winterizing his bike by hoisting it up in the garage while he stands here(he told me anyway) ... Only to turn around and find him on his knees (on purpose) looking under the pickup for the heat shield.  Hmmm... No wonder Matt couldn't find it .. It wasn't there!  🤔  Then the rain gage was emptied and he was ready to go back to bed.  It wore him out, obviously! 

I was told he had a small piece of lasagna for supper as he woke from his nap asking for some meat.  Mom said, 'do you want a hamburger? (His favorite food of all time and the master in making them as well! )  he replied no but knew we were having lasagna so he said that sounded good.  Yay!  Hopefully he is getting some appetite again! 

The hospice nurse(who is fabulous BTW) stopped over and checked him over.  We are once again trying a new medication for nausea.  His pain seems to be under control so that is good.  His blood pressure was back to normal.  Fortunately mom has knowledge of it all too so that helps ad well. 

While it was very difficult to say goodbye as you always wonder if this is the last hug, I know he is in great hands.  Todd was going to start a fire and that will make it even more magical for dad.  I had a great time with them and I don't regret any of it!  The trip home was misty, dark and gloomy so it was appropriate for my attitude!  I just know that I am the luckiest girl in the world to have been able to proudly call him Dad!  Love him sooo much!  ❤️  So... Be kind as anyone who truly knows dad will know that he would say the same thing.  It would take alot to be as kind as he is but it is something I can aspire to! 

Journal entry by Molly Brooke

Matt had a good idea to celebrate Dad's 85th birthday a little early this year since we can't take for granted that it will happen in his condition.  That's not to say we don't think it won't...as we certainly hope it does, but we just want to honor him and the fact that he will be 85 on November 20.  (Mom and dad also celebrate 60 years of wedded bliss on November 15❤️)  So since alot of you ask us to let you know if there is anything you can do... We are asking for birthday cards for dad starting now.  Maybe you could include a memory with him such as a haircut or even how you know him or something.  Their address is N5480 Lake Road, Stone Lake, WI 54876.  We know that he (and us) will appreciate receiving them.  Thank you in advance!

After touching base with mom, dad had a good day yesterday and spent some good quality time with Angie, Todd, Cameron, Conrad and girlfriend Molly.  He seemed in good spirits and was able to eat some and keep the food down.  However today he has been sleeping a little more and was not able to keep his food down.  His appetite has increased but his nausea is still hanging on.  Mom will probably discuss with hospice nurse tomorrow and see if she has any other suggestions.   Two of dad's siblings  (Michael and maureen) came to visit from Albert Lea today, which was a surprise.  They weren't able to stay too long as dad wasn't feeling the best.  Angie and family left early this afternoon but Matt, Teresa and Rose are coming tonight.  Matt and Teresa ran the twin city marathon this morning (yes... They are rockstars!!).  Matt has taken the week off work so he will get the place ready for winter so dad doesn't have to worry about that.  

It is such a conundrum not being with dad for now.  I know he is in good hands, of course, but I find myself always wondering... Always thinking... How is he doing?  Is he eating?  Good day/bad day? Am I missing out on anything?  How is mom doing?  Constantly on my mind no matter what I am doing.  I know I have to take care of my boys.  I know I have to work.  I know life goes on... But I don't want to imagine it without my dad.  I know I am so lucky to have had him up until now and that I am a 50 year old adult woman but... It is still hard to imagine life without dad.  He plays such a big part in me raising my boys.  I also know that I will get through this... And he will forever live on through me and my boys!  So with that being said... Just hug your loved ones as often as you can...and always be kind! 

Please don't forget to send a birthday card! 
Paul Callahan 
N5480 Lake Road
Stone Lake, WI 54876

Journal entry by Molly Brooke

These are the words dad uttered to Matt the other day... "Life is good!"  To me, that shows that dad is back to himself... At least emotionally and spiritually.  As Matt said... 'That says it all'.  I have heard updates from both Matt and mom regarding the last few days.  Things are looking up and hopefully we have the meds under control and we can get some good days and good visits out of him.  The doctor did say that we could get a few good months, and hopefully he is right, but dad sure had us scared for awhile there. 

Dad has been able to eat and drink and keep it down so that is a win.  His appetite is not where it used to be but we will take anything over nothing(as he was doing for awhile).  Matt says he has been having some breakfast and some dinner the last couple of days with no problems.  Yay!

Another milestone is that dad walked to the bridge today(about 1/4 mile) so we were happy about that.  Although as I was talking to them on the phone, mom was telling dad to be sure and use the walker and that she will help him find whatever it was he was looking for.  Sooo...He may be getting a little too confident and needs to reign it in a bit!  😉  But we are happy he is back to his normal funny being!  His sleep is lessening also as one day he went to bed but then got up shortly afterwards and said... 'Why should I lay down when I don't feel tired'.  This is all good news and we are enjoying it all!! 

He has been enjoying company and looks forward to the visits.  They do need to be limited in time some days but he is happy to see everyone and is always making a joke when he can.  That is the dad we all know and love!  I know mom is glad he is back to his normal quirky self as she is laughing at pretty much everything these days!  He never really lost his sense of humor but it seems it is more pronounced nowadays.  Of course that could be because we are all milking in everything dad is saying and doing and earmarking if for future reference!  Either way, we will take it! 

I want to attach a picture that Matt had taken of the view from the bridge of the cabin.  The leaves are just amazing this year...as every year.  One thing both mom and dad have always been thankful for each and every single day is the beauty of life in retirement at the cabin!  Enjoy the beauty in everyday!  And as always...be kind!  ❤️

Journal entry by Molly Brooke

Well today was another good day.  Mitch was able to make it up for a visit and if you look at the attached picture, you will see that dad was back at his old barbershop cutting his hair again.  I am sure dad felt good being able to do what he has always been good at.  What a blast from the past!

Mom said dad had a good day and has been able to keep food down since Tuesday.  Appetite is still not like normal but it is better than nothing.  We are happy with what goes down and stays down.  The hospice nurse came for a check up and decided to increase his pain dose as dad doesn't quite make it through the night without needing to wake up for some additional medicine for his pain.  Not surpising as he has always had pain mostly when he lays down to sleep at night.  Hopefully we will get that squared away and they both can get some good night's rest. 

They were not able to get outside today .. "As time just got away from us today" says mom.  They were busy visiting most of the day.  The plan tomorrow is to get out for a ride to see the beautiful fall leaves on the trees.  They are expecting some old friends(not in that they are old but... Friends they have known for a long time 😉) from Fort Dodge to visit as well so that is something they both look forward to. 

Anyway, enjoy the beauty that is fall and... Always always be kind!  ❤️🍁

Journal entry by Molly Brooke

As I was catching up with mom... And dad this morning on the phone she says 'wait... where are you going?'  to which dad replies 'I need some fresh air'!  Ha!  I am sure dad is going stir crazy not being able to hike up to the garage and piddle around on his projects.  But at least he is able to get on the deck and enjoy the view... Which is amazing as you can see from yesterday's picture.

Mom and dad have been busy the past couple of days.  They had a visit from fort dodge friends to which mom said, 'it was as if we just saw them yesterday... Even though it has been awhile'.  Those are the best.  And of course grandkids are coming to visit any chance they can get.  Mariah(Angie's youngest) was back from PA again and this time... She can hug so she made a short trip to visit with her sister Morgan and dad  Todd.  (side note... When mariah was back last time, it was the weekend after dad's diagnosis, however, she was unable to hug anyone... Because she had hand, foot and mouth disease which was going around on her campus).  So that was a nice visit also.  And of course Vince (mitch's oldest) had a little free time in college so he made another visit as well.  Matt went home on Saturday with Vince after doing lots of work all week at the cabin getting it ready for the cold, and giving dad a little peace of mind.  Dad is enjoying all of the company for sure!! 

Matt was able to get dad out in the car on Friday to tour the fall colors and leaves, however it started a little rocky.  Dad had been able to eat some each day and keep it down until they got in the car.  Then he wasn't able to keep it down and that was a little disappointing for all of us.  And then as soon as they got back from the trip, dad went right to sleep.  Mom says he has been able to eat a decent breakfast but then doesn't have too much of an appetite the rest of the day.  But something is better than nothing.  She also said he is still waking up in the middle of the night for pain medicine so the hospice nurse is looking into increasing the dose again.  Would be nice for both mom and dad to sleep through the night.  

Mom has also mentioned that they are receiving many cards every single day.  They truly enjoy them immensely!  So for that, I thank you!  We all know mom and dad are one of a kind and have the best personality, but to hear and see how much other people see it as well... Just warms our souls for sure!  Again, I thank you for taking the time to send a card, especially through snail mail.  We know how that is such a dying task these days.  Much much appreciated! 

Of course I have attached some cute pictures... Of the grandkids with mom and dad on the deck.  One of them must have been a little chilly for dad but nonetheless, they turned out awesome!  Enjoy and as always, be kind!!  ❤️

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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