Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Personal: R.I.P., Daddy: Big Ed Bystrak


After years of close calls and over a year under home palliative care, on Sunday, April 9th, 2023 my dad took his final breath. Just last week, my parents celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary, and while my dad was bedbound, the rest of us celebrated with a feast from a local taco shop and one of those chocolate mousse tuxedo cakes from Costco. A week later, he's no longer with us. 

More, after the jump.

 My dad was still capable of play fighting with me; I urged him to turn off Hannity but he was obsessed with the lunatics' responses to the indictment of TFG, and he mocked me by turning it up louder. "Dad, this isn't good for your health!" He thought it was funny but eventually let us find something else for him to watch.  

In the days following their anniversary, his condition quickly declined. We knew his organs were failing for a long time, he'd been in and out of the hospital but was finally at the point where there were doctors and nurses visiting for comfort care but wouldn't take him in again. My brother brought his kids to town on a road trip with Melissa's ashes and my mom called my sister and I to come over Friday to say goodbye. His nurse came by and told him she'd be back with his doctor after Easter. He was coherent enough to tell us to go to Sea World with my brother and the kids and so we did, and we returned later that night and could tell he was in bad shape and uncomfortable. By Saturday he was mostly out of it, and that evening I was working and I was told that a nurse had come over to give him morphine, that no more interventions or medications would be provided. My brother and the kids left to get back home on Sunday morning, but my cousin came come down from LA. Various family spent most of Sunday with him, a chaplain came over and blessed him, and we all sat around in the little room watching 80 For Brady with my mom. I left in the late afternoon to drop Nova at home and get my afternoon zoo walk in, and while I was with Denny, my sister called that my dad had stopped breathing. And that was it. He passed quietly around 5:40pm. 

We all reconvened at the house and waited for things to happen. A nurse had to come and do a final check to declare him deceased which was almost 8pm, and then we waited for the mortuary people to come and take his body which didn't happen until around 11pm. If you ever have to go through this, don't be in the room when that happens. We had enough foresight to take my mom to the other room. 

And things happen fast. We knew this was coming for a long time, so fortunately my parents had a lot of this stuff pre-planned and in order. Calls have to be made, contacts reached. The Catholic church is mostly out of business the week after Easter, so my mom is still hoping to schedule a morning mass, but it sounds like there will be services for his ashes on Friday, May 12th at Miramar Base at 1:30pm. I will spread the word on that when we're confirmed. 

On Monday, my brother made the decision to come back...they had made it to as far as Arizona to stay with a cousin of Melissa, but returned. We all got together on Monday night for a big dinner at Miguel's Cocina in Old Town, which was a little weird with our table of 15 next to another massive group that was celebrating a 60th birthday, but nothing made my dad happier than all of us being together. Everyone has different schedules and responsibilities to tend to, but we all reconvened again tonight and hung around looking through photos and telling stories and just being together. 

Thank you to Jeff for the beautiful bouquet sent to my mom's. Thanks to everyone for all the kind messages on Facebook and Instagram and all the calls and texts. We're doing okay. We mostly want to focus on helping my mom, helping her learn how to relive with the world that she missed out on for so long being his primary caretaker and not being able to leave the house for more than an hour or two at a time for the past few years. I look forward to her using her Zoo pass and enjoying the camper they bought and going to favorite spots like Shelter Island and Mission Bay, all these places they couldn't go once my dad completely lost mobility. While my mom was hoping for a May 5th ceremony, the May 12th date was the one available, which she pointed out is Mother's Day Weekend, and she's already planning to finally go back to Gator By The Bay again, which she hasn't been able to do in the past few years after it had been our tradition for so long. 

So yeah. It's been a crazy few weeks. My sister in law died on March 25th. I went to New Mexico to be with my brother and his family March 27th-30th. Came back and did our usual helping my parents, doing life, working, did my parents' anniversary on April 4, and on April 9th my dad died. I'm trying to keep up with work or it will spin out of control, but I appreciate everyone's patience on that front, too. 

Be well. Be safe out there. Tell your people that you love them. 

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