The last days of Ralph Oliver Moll

September 25, 2009

Last night we were told that my dad has only days or weeks to live. He is in a nursing home in West Covina, 20 miles east of Los Angeles.  For the last week, I have been trying to move him to Virgina so he will not be alone but my inquiries only brought bad news. He has been refusing medical care so the doctor has not been to see him in three and a half weeks, so my question, “Can he safely be moved to Virginia?” resulted in a blood test that show nearly every component in his body is badly out of whack.  His creatine levels which should be in the teens are 180. His blood has become toxic.

It is hard to lose both parents in a month. This weekend for the first time since my mother died on August 26, I began to feel almost okay, the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach had eased and I could think of my mom without a visceral reaction.  But now that “kicked in the stomach” feeling has come back with the yawning fatigue that seems to swallow me.

I was always so proud of my fit, healthy parents. Trim, athletic.  In the last decade our family vacations revolved around horseback riding or hiking and I wonder, when did they start to decline? With them on the west coast and me on the east, it seems I missed some crucial turning point. I wonder, was it the accident?

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A Way Where There Seems to be No Way

September 21, 2009

Strategic thinking is one of my strong suits: my mind often ticks through options automatically. But my father’s situation: sick and in a Christian Science nursing home seemed like a brick wall at the end of the road. I was afraid that he would worsen and his fellow Christian Scientists would let him languish and even die all the while proclaiming him healed. Yet once he decided to opt for Broadview, the Christian Science home an hour west of my parent’s home in Los Angeles, there seemed little I could do . . . but pray. Why does prayer seem so wimpy? The last resort when all my heaving and hoeing has come up empty?

So pray I did. And I heard God whisper to my heart, I am still with him. I am there.  I still love him. I also heard God say one morning as I rose to consciousness, Buy plane tickets now. I agonized over the dates, praying, God, show me when to go. When you run a busy Healing Center it is not easy to leave town on short notice. It is not easy to cancel appointments, skip leadership meetings and tell your boss, my rector, that you are headed back to Los Angeles for the second time in a month. The best time seemed to be the week set aside for our family vacation. I asked my daughter if she minded going to Los Angeles and ask my husband if he minded being left behind. He reported that a tight deadline was going to make it impossible for him to go to the beach anyway. He urged me to go to Los Angeles and Sarah said she did not have a preference.

So I booked tickets, then proceeded to be dogged by nagging doubts. Should we go? After all, things seemed to have settled down. Dad was in the nursing home and Mom was sleeping a lot, recovering from months of battling cancer while simultaneously taking care of a husband who could not carry his dirty plate to the sink much less help cook a meal or carry out the trash.

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Why I am fasting for my dad

May 29, 2009

I wrote this article more than seven years ago, when my dad was still playing tennis most mornings and seemed invincible. Now he is dying. On Wednesday I will fly to L.A. to see him, perhaps for the last time. He has not seen a doctor in 45 years, yet it is clear that he has Parkinson’s and maybe something else. He is not well. He is in bed more than 20 hours a day, he  shuffles along using the furniture and walls for balance and he has fallen silent. It is sad to see a man, who played tennis so well that I was helpless to return his serves, unable to stand upright.

Although he has not left the house for a month or more, he holds fast to his hope that he will be healed by Christian Science.  I believe he is dying and am praying that he will come to the end of himself and cry out to Jesus.

Please pray for me as I travel, June 3 to 10, and enjoy this piece which was originally published in Virtue Magazine.  It seems especially poignant to me now and was never more true.

I wasn’t raised in a Christian home.  I was ten before I heard the gospel for the first time when a school chum invited me to her Sunday school.  I’d been to Sunday school a handful of times before, but this Sunday school was different. It was held in a small garage behind an old house–a relic from the days before the church owned the property.  My friend and I sat in the old garage, carpet at our feet but the garage door still visible straight ahead.  I remember listening to the thin, gray-haired lady who led the singing up front.  She talks about God like she knows Him, I thought.  I had never heard anyone speak of God in this way.  How could this be? I wondered.  Could anyone really know God the way they knew their mother or father? Their brothers or sisters?

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