On foxholes

I went to Houston last weekend to see my Dad in ICU. He had a large blood clot on his brain and had surgery to drain it. My Father has Alzheimer’s, so he could not afford more damage to his brain. Before surgery, he’d been doing okay. He was coherent and knew who everyone was. He could carry on a conversation and get around. He needed help with dressing and eating, but my mother was coping. She’s good at taking care of people. She’s a strong woman.

Tuesday is my Mom and Dad’s 58th wedding anniversary.

Right before they discovered the clot, he’d gotten much worse. He couldn’t walk. He’d lost control of his bladder. He was less coherent. When we learned of the blood clot, we had hoped the surgery removing it would cause improvement. At least some, anyway. It did not. He can’t sit up by himself. He can’t walk. Sometimes he’s coherent and I can understand what he says. But these times are the exception. When I first saw him last weekend, it was shocking. But I got used to his condition after a bit, and was grateful to be able to be with him.

Those few coherent moments brought joy.

We wanted to move him to an intensive rehab facility in hopes of his regaining some function. Because he cannot participate in rehab for three solid hours a day, Medicare won’t pay for it. The facility would take him. They said they could help him. But it’s very expensive. Just the co-pay is $4000 a month. So yesterday we moved him to a skilled nursing facility (nursing home). The hope is he will improve enough that he can go home (with home health care). I’m trying to stay positive, but find myself thinking he won’t be with us much longer.

Until this year, I’ve not faced my own mortality head on. I’ve not had to think much about death. I’ve not had to ponder the fact that our time on this planet is finite.

Years ago I’d eschewed my Catholic upbringing and decided there is no god. There can’t be. I read a lot of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. I’d decided that no thinking person could honestly believe in god. My father was a strident agnostic. Although that seems a bit of an oxymoron. How strident can you be when you won’t get off the fence? A year or so ago, I asked him about it. He recanted. He said he was never an agnostic. He reminded me he went to church with my mother all the time. I thought he was merely placating her. I didn’t know he’d had a shift in his thinking. I didn’t like it. It made me wonder what I was missing.

This past week, I’ve found myself wishing I had faith. Yes, the old adage that there are no atheists in foxholes rings true. I want there to be more than our time on earth. I don’t want this to be all there is. I want it to mean more than you live, and then you die.

I envy people who have faith. Death wouldn’t be so difficult with it. Which I know is the paramount benefit of being a believer. But how can you fake it?


  • I don’t attend church because I don’t have much use for organized religion. What I do have is the belief there is something/someone greater than myself.. look around at the beauty & ugly, it did not just appear out of a thought.. That being said, I believe in a higher power and that gives me faith.

    Good thoughts on a speedy recovery for your Dad!!


      • No, you are not missing a gene…The person that opened up my doubtful world is Marianne Willamson (google her)..I share a quote of her:

        “Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here. The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hears.”


  • My Dad died over a year ago. Facing one’s own mortality is a very soberly thing. We all must face it. Yes, there are no atheists in foxholes or on the death bed. It is best to come to some kind of understanding long before the need. I can fully understand your thoughts at this time.

    25 years ago, I turned my back on the faith I was raised on, Roman Catholic, and went back to my ancestial beliefs. I was fortunate in having had someone, at that time, to show me that I had a choice in what and whom to believe in. I renounced JC and took back my soul and went back to whom my genes came from. In my case, the Germanic gods and goddesses of the Anglo Saxons. There are many gods that have spawned many races of humans, they pre-date christianity, go and find them, they are alive and will help you; the world is not limited to the religions of Abraham. There are many traditions that will help you in understanding our limited human existence and where we stand in the afterworlds. You are not alone, it’s in your genes!

    Now may not be the time for you to explore this, you are too close to an important event…spend time with your DAD and MOM this is what you must do now. Use the tradition that you know and have been raised in, and that your parents know, to deal with what is currently happening, this and ONLY this will give the comfort that you and your mother need and to help your father’s soul in its passing. Have faith that all will be okay! for whomever and/or whatever the person, who is dying, believes in, is the right faith!

    OM Shanti, shanti, shanti, Om…


  • You are not missing anything. You are dealing with death, loss, and more loss. Trust in what you know to be true & untrue. Fairy tales don’t belong in foxholes.


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