Tuesday, May 25, 2010

miracle of a life well lived

Over two months ago, we celebrated the miracle of life with our two newest additions to the Barbour family. What a blessing these little guys have been. During the past week, I've been confronted with what it means to live life well. On Sunday afternoon of last week we made the decision to make an emergency trip out to CA to visit my wife's grandpa (Pa). He had been diagnosed with lung cancer at 88 years old, and wasn't doing so well. We all thought it would be a good idea to get out to see him one last time and allow him the privilege of meeting his great grandsons. We were nervous about the trip because it would be the first time we flew with the boys and weren't sure how well they'd do on the flight. Our worries were swiftly ended when the boys slept through the whole flight there, aside from a little time awake to eat. I wish I could sleep that long on an airplane! Maybe if someone would hold me the whole time I could! Just not the guy next to me! LOL!!

When we arrived in CA and headed to the hospital we found Jenni's grandpa in good spirits. He seemed to be doing well in our eyes, but it was tough to see the vibrant, lively man stuck in a hospital bed. We'd been getting some different messages on how long he had left—anywhere from 2 months to 6-9 months to 2-5 years (if chemotherapy worked). Well, the family made the decision to start chemotherapy to hopefully give him some good quality of life. After one treatment, he started to go downhill even faster. Because he was at the hospital, the boys weren't allowed in to see him. We asked the nurses to make a special exception and they agreed so we brought the boys in after what we had heard was a pretty bad day for Pa. We had originally wanted to bring them in on Saturday the 22nd which was his 89th birthday as his birthday present, but because he was getting worse quickly, we thought it best to do it sooner rather than later. When we got there with the little tikes, Pa seemed to perk up. He was on oxygen at the time, but was allowed to take it off for a few minutes at a time to take some pictures. What a sight! His eyes and face lit up to meet his twin grandsons, and many of us couldn't fight back the tears as we watched in wonder and amazement at how things had changed in a matter of minutes. Now that was a great day.

The very next day on his birthday we had to leave and say our good-byes. Pa was non-responsive until grandma started reading him the birthday cards out loud. He would wake up for a minute or two as he was struggling to breath and seemed to hear everything she said. Watching my wife say her final good-bye was one of the hardest things for me. I know that Pa heard Jenni say good-bye even though he never said it back, and I know that one day we will see him again on the other side. And that will be a glorious day.

Pa Hillhouse was a great man. He was strong, compassionate, sincere, and sweet. He loved his wife, his family, and cards. He will be greatly missed.