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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Drawing to a close

June 25, 2009

Years of pain and grief are drawing to a close as my father entered the hospital last night with acute renal failure. His kidneys have ceased to work.  With a mixture of sadness and gratitude, I have begun to mourn.

I am grateful that I was with him June 3 to 10, grateful that back in May I heard God saying, Go to L.A., your dad needs you. Grateful that I heard His voice and obeyed.  It was a shock to see how he had declined since early March when I was in L.A. because the doctors had decided my mom was too frail to stay alone in the little bungalow at City of Hope where they sequester patients being treated for thyroid cancer with radioactive iodine.  We enjoyed our time together in the peaked roof cottage with the little garden out front and giggled like school girls at our inability to keep the rules–stay six feet away apart and wear gloves whenever touching anything the other might touch–to avoid my being contaminated by her radioactivity.

I saw little of my dad that visit, as I was only home a day or two. His shuffle made me suspect Parkinson’s disease.  You could head him coming, schurch, schruch, schruch for minutes before he appeared, head forward tortoise-like.

When God said, Your dad needs you. I was surprised. Then I heard from my sister that he was walking around the house wearing only a diaper. Gulp!

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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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