Tuesday, September 8, 2009

True Story Tuesday-- A memorial for dad

Its True Story Tuesday time. This is brought to you courtesy of Rachel and Mr. Daddy . So after you read this, you can head over there and read more amazing stories.

I know its been a while since I last had a post, but I couldn't and wouldn't let this day go by without posting. On this day, just 5 short years ago, the most amazing man earned his angel wings. I was honored to be able to call him DAD. So in honor of him and a tribute to him this true story will be all about him.

I have posted before about the work he did for families who have lost children. I have posted about the many things he has done for our family. For those who are new to my blog. Here are 2 links of what his calling was. I know there were more articles in the paper, but after searching for a while I couldn't find them.



Dad always put others before himself. In everything he did. When I was in high school, our church had a youth softball team. We would play against other churches in the area. I didn't want to play softball in my high school for many reasons. My sophomore year, our youth group was told we wouldn't have softball because we didn't have a coach. After talking to dad he agreed to coach the team, and he was the coach until after I graduated. Dad worked full time, often putting in a lot of overtime, but he always had time to do things for my brother and I. When it was time for me to get my learners permit to drive, he took me to MVA, and let me drive the car back to school. He would help my brother and I in sports whenever he could. He was always there to listen when we wanted to talk. He was always there to discipline us, when we did something wrong.

When dad was diagnosed with cancer on July 18, 2004, he was ready to fight it head on. He was ready to start chemo and radiation treatments in order to beat the monster. Due to many reasons treatment was always put off. He was tranfered to another hospital a week after he was diagnosed. He stayed there for a week, and was discharged. This was a shock to everyone. We had no idea what was going on. We were told they would call to make an appointment with another doctor in a few days. On the day of the appointment, when we were all ready to head out the door to go there, the phone rang, we were told the appointment was canceled. They didn't tell us why. Mom had to call the first oncologist that saw him at the local hospital. It was while she was on the phone, she began to cry, writing things on paper... I can still remember some of the things she was writing.. " 3-6 months".... " hospice"... "terminal".... when she got off the phone, it was her that had to tell dad and the rest of us that indeed dad was terminal, they gave him 3-6 months to live, and hospice would be called in. The cancer started in July, on the 18th it was the size of a pea. By the 21st it was the size of a baseball. There was nothing that could be done in order to save his life. Once we all talked as a family, dads first concern was the memorial service he coordinated for families of deceased children. As soon as he knew our church would make sure the service would continue he was at some peace. Then he was ready to help make his funeral arrangements. On Saturday Sept. 4, 2004 we all went to the funeral home.By this time dad was in a motorized wheelchair. It seemed strange to be there, it still seemed so unreal, it couldn't be happening to our family. My brother and I went through and put all the price's on the caskets down so he couldn't see them. He was able to pick out the exact one he wanted. He was able to talk to them about what he wanted his obituary to say. When we were done there, we had to head to the cemetery. Dad wanted to pick out where he would be laid to rest. Dad was awake enough to talk to everyone. He went to the front of the cemetery, close to the road. He got our of the wheelchair, laid on the ground, put his hands across his stomach. He decided that was where he wanted to be, he would be in the shade during the summer, have a nice mountain view in front of him, and can watch the traffic going by. He said the only thing wrong with that, is in his view of the mountain there was a street sign. He said he would take care of that once he got there and no one was watching. Everyone started laughing. When asked how he planned on getting up off the ground he said " I didn't think of that". The people at the cemetery were in shock, they have never seen anyone do that before. But with dad, he tried to make light a very heavy heartache. He wanted to make people laugh. He didn't want anyone to cry or be sad. When we finished there, everything was complete. We went back to their house. Dad said he was in pain and wanted something. This was the first time he said he was in pain. He took some medicine, and went to lay down. That was the last time dad was able to get out of bed. We had friends and family come in over the next 2 days. Dad spent his time sleeping. I would help mom take care of him with his bathing, feeding, and drinking. On Sunday he said his last words, he was no longer able to speak, he was always sleeping. Monday Sept. 6, things started to drastically change, and it went down hill from there. While I was in the room with him, when he was somewhat awake, he would look up to the ceiling, and talk, but I couldn't understand what he was saying. His eyes would light up and a smile would go across his face. On Tuesday evening we knew the end was getting closer. My brother and I stayed at the house with mom and grandma. About 7pm, dad was fighting his cpap machine, so we all agreed to let mom take that away. At midnight, the rattle became very loud. Mom asked us all if we agreed to let her give dad more meds for the pain. We all agreed. After she gave dad the meds, we all went to the kitchen table. Mom, Grandma, my brother and I. We spent the next few hours talking and laughing, sharing our memories of dad. Mom and I each took turns going in and checking dad. Seeing if there was anything we could do. At 425 AM I went out on the deck to smoke a cigg. I had to look all around and even at my cigg. I could smell dads ciggs. that he smoked. At 430 AM, while I was still on the deck, my brother went back to check dad, we couldn't hear dad breathing... He came out of the room and said " Its over". On September 8, 2004 at 430 AM my dad earned his angel wings. He is missed by so many people, he did so much for so many people and so many families. He is now in heaven with all those children who have passed away, he already knew their families, and now he is with the children, He is with his grandchildren that I lost in May 2002. FLY HIGH DAD!! We Miss you and WE Love you!
I am happy to say, that the church has continued this service for families of deceased children each and every year.
Mr. James Witmer

James V. Witmer, 56, of Frederick, died Wednesday, Sept. 8 at his home. He was the husband of Betty J. Vincent Witmer.

Born Dec. 9, 1947 in Baltimore, he was the son of the late William R. Witmer and Juanita Vinson.

He was employed by the state of Maryland as an aide in the nursing department of Springfield Hospital for 30 years.

Mr. Witmer was an active and long time member of the Brook Hill United Methodist Church where he founded and coordinated the "Interfaith Children's Memorial Service." He was a member of the Sykesville Vol. Fire Company, Knights of Columbus and the Moose Lodge.

In addition to his wife Betty, he is survived by a mother-in-law, Emma Vincent; one son, James W. Witmer and wife Denise of Mount Airy; one daughter, Veronica Scott and husband Gregory of Hagerstown. He is also survived by two brothers, William Witmer of Mass. and Robert Witmer of Texas.

He was preceded in death by a sister Carolyn Witmer.

The family will receive friends at the Stauffer Funeral Home, 1621 Opossumtown Pike, Frederick on Friday, Sept. 10 from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Funeral services will be on Saturday, Sept. 11 at 10 a.m. at the Brook Hill United Methodist Church, 8946 Indian Springs Road, Frederick with the Rev. Dr. Conrad O. Link and Associate Pastor Linda Warehime officiating.

Burial will be in the Brook Hill United Methodist Church Cemetery.

Flowers or memorial contributions may be made to the Brook Hill United Methodist Church, Attn. Interfaith Children's Memorial Service Fund at 8946 Indian Springs Road, Frederick, Md. 21702.


Foursons said...

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of such a wonderful man- your father. What an honor to get to read about him. I'm sure the pain is no less with the passing of time. I hope your heart feels some joy when you think of him.

Rachel said...

What an amazing man. So glad to have read your post and learned about the person who helped you become who you are! What a truly generous spirit and an example as a dad.

Thanks for sharing him with us.