"In November 2014 he began saying he was tired of living, that the effort to stand and walk even a few steps was becoming more painful and frightening since he couldn't breathe well. He said he wanted to die, and wished we could "Just get him some pills or something". He was "just plain tired of living like this."
I began discussions with his wife Terry and doctor so we could get a plan together. On January 9, 2015 he began telling Terry that he was being visited by his deceased mother and brothers. She did not like him talking about it and wouldn't listen. I came the next day, the 10th, to give him his shower.
When I arrived at 8:00 am, he was sitting propped up in his bed as usual, but he'd taken off his oxygen tubing and had it coiled on his chest. He had a smug, knowing look on his face and his arms were crossed with an amusing sort of pride. He said "Well, today's the day. I don't need that anymore."
I smiled, pulled up a chair and asked, "What do you mean, Dad?"
He said, "I saw my brother and my mother. They came and talked to me. I'm ready to go!"
We didn't talk about it any more that day. Three days later, I came early to get him up and he was animated and talkative, like he couldn't wait to tell me some exciting news! He said "She came to me, and she held up 3 fingers." (He held up a thumb and two fingers.)
I asked "Who, Dad, who came to you? Was it your mother?"
He nodded yes with a broad smile. He went on: "She said 'This one is Bud [first of the family to die, his younger brother] and this one is your other brother [who died in 2014] and this one is YOU!' [touching his thumb]. "And she was happy that she was going to have all three of us! She looked marvelous!"
Dad got tears in his eyes while he was talking. He told me this story a couple of times and he was smiling a lot. He was very happy. A few days later, again in the early morning, he said "Oooh! They took me on quite a ride!" He said this with much drama and had a big smile. His eyes were half-open and his eyeballs were darting back and forth while he talked, like he was remembering a real experience.
He said, "They took me way out there and we saw lots of people and then they brought me back." Another time, out in the living room sitting on the couch, he motioned with his hand, making a big arch and saying, "She showed me one of those, you know what those are?"
I guessed an arch-of-triumph type thing, like with balloons, or a rainbow, and he nodded yes to both. He said, "She was making that just for me! and she looked so wonderful."
I asked if this was his mother and he nodded yes. He said, "And they all reached out their hands.." (he smiled broadly and his eyes were darting back-and-forth while remembering.)
I asked "Did you touch their hands?" and he said "OH YES! It was wonderful --their hands-- hundreds of them!" He motioned with his hands, reaching out and grasping.
And smiling all the while. Another time, motioning with his head to where Terry usually sits (she was out shopping), he said, "She was gone in the car ... so they came and took me for another ride! It was a wild one! Whew! They didn't want to bring me back but I asked them to! This time we went WAAY out there!"
Again, he talked dramatically and with big smiles, like it made him very happy to remember. "
This account has many of the elements we have heard and seen frequently in the transcripts we have collected over the last five years: descriptions of unusual ways of moving through space, rides or trips, and the appearance of deceased loved ones. Christopher Kerr and his team at the Center of Hospice and Palliative Care have done extensive research into the dreams and visitations of the dying that resonates with the hundreds of final words from The Final Words Project. Discover more here: