Dad's last days...
About 5 weeks ago, Dave Hayes was diagnosed with cancer in his lung (a tumor) and upper right leg (femur bone). He elected to take the treatment -- chemo and radiation (for the leg). He had one (of six) chemo treatments and about 7 radiation treatments. His neighbor and member of the branch presidency (Sheril Hales) had been driving him to Kingman (it is a 60 mile drive each way from Meadview). On Tuesday, 7/20/10, he was not doing well, went to the ER. They gave him some fluids and released him. He felt even worse on Wednesday so Sheril called the ambulance. It took him to the ER in Kingman. I spoke to him just prior to him getting admitted. He said he did not want to leave there -- he was feeling terrible.
I drove up (5.5 hours) and by the time I got to the Kingman Regional Medical Center, he was in the ICU on a respirator. He had very low blood pressure, high heart rate, very low white cell count, pneumonia, malnourished and dehydrated. They got him stabilized by Thursday. He was moving his arms, could squeeze my hand. But by Friday, he was unresponsive. I came home on Friday, Denise arrived on Sunday. She confirmed that he was not there any longer. They tried to take him off the respirator on Saturday but his lungs could not do their job. They put him back on it. They took him off all sedation. He was being kept alive via the respirator.
The rest of us -- Jeff, Andy, Darren and Chris -- arrived Tuesday. We had been talking about his situation for nearly a week. Dad wanted the doctors to try to help him but he did not want to be kept alive on life support. He told this to his MDs and to us. He had a Living Will confirming this. The MDs said he would not get better -- the cancer was getting him fast. We all agreed and told the MDs and nurses our decision to remove the respirator. We were all around him and within 5 minutes, he was gone. He struggled a bit but only for 30 seconds. It was the right thing to do.
The funeral services were on Friday, 30 July 2010, 11am, at the Dolan Springs Branch chapel. Jeff, Andy, Darren went to the funeral home and picked out a casket (cheapest one they had -- Dad's request), no embalming (dad said it was a rip-off and it is), hurst service, etc. The fee was still higher than you think -- luckily they take credit cards. Obituaries were ran in three papers: Kingman Daily Miner, Columbus Dispatch and Portsmouth Daily Times (that's not cheap either).
The service consisted of the Branch President (Michael Brown) conducting, much like a normal church meeting: opening/closing hymns and prayers, a choir number, and speakers. Sheril Hales spoke and each of us spoke -- Denise, Darren, Chris, Andy and Jeff (youngest to oldest). The Branch President was the concluding speaker. Dad's four sons were pallbearers along with Denise's fiancée, Kuper Donaldson, and a friend of dad's. Dad's one living brother, Phil Hayes, tried to come but was unable to get a flight in time.
The burial took place in Chloride, AZ (a living ghost town, full of veteran graves). We had the VFW Chaplin and Commandant do a military ceremony, presenting the oldest with a flag. The grave was properly dedicated. The Branch President said a few words, and that was it. We went back to the chapel where the Relief Society provided a great lunch for us.
David Hayes joined the church in Columbus after meeting some tracting elders. He joined in 1964, shortly after our oldest sister, Julia, died. He had a testimony; was faithful til the end. He was buried in his temple clothing. Although he had some strange interpretations of some gospel principles which kept him at odds with many, he was a good father, always being there while we were in our youth, both before and after our parents divorced.
He loved his children, grandchildren and extended family very much. And we love and will miss him. But he is onto that next phase of God's eternal plan. We all look forward to embracing him again some day.
(BTW, his last real meal was on Tuesday...at In-N-Out Burger. True to his burgers to the end. Way to go dad!)