On Thanksgiving of 2015, dad came to visit us in Flagstaff, but due to shortness of breath, he had leave almost as soon as he arrived. He went to the Dr. when he returned to California, and was given medication and breathing treatments. These helped only for a short span. On December 6, he was taken into the ER, and had approximately 4 liters of fluid removed from his lungs.
On 12-8-15 after examining the fluid, it was determined that dad had stage 4 adinocarcenoma (lung cancer) which had spread to his liver. He remained in the hospital until all of the fluid was gone, and he was suited for release. At this time, the thought was that he would meet with the oncologist and schedule his chemotherapy. At first diagnosis, the doctor said that chemo could get him up to 4 years of life. This approximation decreased with each discussion, and the final diagnosis was a possible 12 months with chemo (a very unpleasant and painful treatment). The flip side was 2-4 months with no treatment, and everyone agreed (including the doctor) that this was his best option. The cancer was too aggressive to stop at this point.
On December 26, dad went on full time hospice. At this time, Daniel called me with some bad news. The cancer was moving at an incredibly fast rate, and dad was declining each day. It sounded like this was likely our last chance to see and talk with dad. So we loaded up the family, and headed to CA.
Daniel and his wife Perla lived with dad, so all of the hospice and everything was taking place in their home. Me, my wife Debbie, and my daughters Alana (9yrs) and Kayla (6yrs), arrived at their apartment on December 28.
We know the time was near once we got there, the nurse at that time figured that dad only had a day or two left. We all went to his bedside with hugs, kisses, and tears. A lot of good things happened that night. My dad was actually able to say quite a bit, at a very slow pace, and we were able to let him know how big of an impact he has had in our lives.
Of all of us, Alana and Kayla seemed to process all of this the best. I believe God creates us with an uncanny amount of faith and understanding when we are young...eventually we become more cynical and critical which is interesting when you think about it. Starting that night until about Thursday, dad became fairly stable; though he was stable in a bad state of health. He was also on continuous care hospice at the time which is 24 hours a day nurse care. Due to his "stable" state, he was scheduled to be taken of of continuous care on Friday (January 1) at 4:00pm.
He was very tired and lethargic by Thursday night, but he was able to wake up enough to bring in the new year with all of us at his bedside.
Now this whole week was flu of beautiful emotional and spiritual experiences. We sang many a worship songs together in his room, and Daniel and I were able to play a lot guitar together for him. The kids plastered his wall with drawing after drawing, and constantly came in to hug him, talk to him, or to just listen to him.
January 1 at about 4:00pm when continuous care was scheduled to end, dad took a big turn for the worse. He entered a state of "terminal agitation" which I can only describe as the time when it appeared that dad had gone. He was now in a state of unresponsive, agitated behavior. He refused all medication, food, and breathing treatment. He would wake up out of his drug induced state, and get out of bed. Me and Daniel did all we could think of to try and communicate with him, help him, and help him find rest; but it was out of our hands.
Me and Daniel traded of shifts of monitoring dad and giving him medication on the hour, every hour, from about 5:00pm Friday - 8:30am Saturday; which was the day that Me and the family had to head back home. Dad became more agitated and less responsive as the night went on, it was very stressful and scary for us to see our dad like this. Our constant prayer throughout the night, which seemed like an eternity when we were in it, was that dad would transition past this suffering stage soon. We also prayed that the hospice would agree that he needs continuous care, because we could not maintain this on our own.
Daniel called hospice multiple times through the night until they finally agreed to get dad back on continuous care. As of 9:00am on Saturday morning, he had transitioned from the terminal agitation state to the final stage of a coma like sleep. Praise God.
That was that. We came back to Flagstaff, and Daniel and Perla waited at home for whatever was next. When dad died, he was sleeping. The nurse was there wen he took his last breath. Daniel called me, and here we are.
My dad, George Grayum, was a great father. He loved me and my brother Daniel with a fierce love that would not be shaken. He always put our needs above his own. He was an encourager and a guide. The only love that rivaled his love for us, was his love for Jesus. He would constantly tell me that I must love Jesus above all else so that I can love Debbie, Alana, and Kayla the best I can. They deserve the biggest, fiercest, unending, unselfish, and grace filled love that can only come form God himself. So I had better stay true to God so that I can provide this kind of love for my family.
One of the last scriptures we all read together by his bed was Romans 8, I highly recommend giving it a read.
I'm not quite sure how this whole online blog thing works yet, but I believe that any of you can reply to this post with any thoughts, encouragements, memories, or whatever. I will also keep this post updated with pictures, and a service time and place once we figure everything out.
I will also be adding posts of what dad taught me, and what I believe he would like to pass on to there.
Rest In Peace Dad, we love you.