Please, let me help you understand why I have posted this page to raise money at this most desperate time.
Let me invite you into my heart for my father, and what the experience of being his caregiver has been like.
My father was a fighter. He literally always was. During the summer between ninth and tenth grade, he pounded the weights, gained 25 lbs of muscle, and then he made 'the list'. This was a list of everyone that picked on him in the school year before. One by one, he squared off with every bully on that list with the words, "You're next!", with an emminent fist fight to follow! This is one of my favorite stories about him.
My father went on to join the draft in the U.S. Army, where he served our country in the Vietnam War. He even had a brief amature boxing career, as his father did, and as his favorite uncle did, as well.
He became a nurse, and after altmost 25 years, he retired from Methodist Hospital in 2008. He was so happy! He was planning to take some time off, enjoy himself, and eventually resume nursing in another capacity. He was so excited about the next stage of his life.
Unfortunatly, he never got the opportunity. He began to get sick. For three years, doctoral teams could not find out what was wrong with him. Then, test after test revealed that he was at 23% kidney function. He was in end stage kidney disease, and no one knew it. This would mean dialysis for the rest of his life. Years of dialysis, and complications from his disease led to him being in a state where he could no longer live by himself. Someone was going to have to take care of him.
I moved in with my father in December of 2015. I cooked almost every meal for him from scratch! It got to the point where he began to fancy himself a food critic, and every part of every meal was examined by him. It did get on my nerves. It did often. I had to give it to him, though. He didn't have much he could look forward to, so letting him critique my cooking like a Food Network judge was just the way it was going to be!
It wasn't perfect. I was definetly far from perfect. We argued often. We always did throughout the course of my life. We were so much alike, that I think that was inevidible! While I have no regrets in taking care of him, I have regrets. I have regrets about things I said, or didn't say often enough. I have regrets about things I did, or didn't do often enough, as well.
The last 21 months have been the most challenging time in my life. To watch my father go from being such a strong and virile man, to being so weakened by disease, has been incredibly difficult to watch. The pain of losing my father and my best friend has devestated my heart.
And yet, this has been by far the most precious and rewarding period of my life. I got to honor my father. I got to get to know this man in ways that I never imagined. I'll not forget the Saturday morning conversations where I would lie on the floor in the living room while my father rested on the couch. I'll not forget the vulnerable moments in which he told me the deepest secrets of his heart. I look at these moments now as if they are treasures that no man could put a value to.
My father was still a fighter, right up until the end of his life. He fought end stage kidney disease and congestive heart failure. I spoke to the head nurse of his dialysis clinic the day that he died, and she said, "Your father fought, and fought, and fought..." Yet, the complications of his disease, septsis, and his recent heart surgery took such a toll on his body, that there was no fight left in him.
I'm so eternally grateful that I was there. When he would get tired, when he would want to quit, when he felt like he had nothing left, I was in his corner.
I was able to press him on.
I was there. When he was scared, I was there. When he fell down, I was there. When he was ready to give his heart to Jesus Christ, I was there. Even in the end, when I saw his last tears, and his final breath, I was in his ear telling him of my love for him. I was there.
I knew that when I moved in to be his full-time caregiver, that there would be a cost on my life. I have not been able to successfully and consistently work in almost two years. With his condition, I was just not able to leave him by himself for long periods of time. He would fall. He would have bouts of dementia. He would get sick and have to be rushed to the hospital at any moment.
I searched and searched for work. I once had over 40 job applications out at one time. I racked my brain about how I could bring in an income to prepare for this moment. I just couldn't figure out a way to care for him and earn an income at the same time. I even tried several ways to get him a pension where I could care for him. We currently have a claim through the VA for an "Aid and Attendence" pension. Dad passed away before it was finalized and approved.
I have a part-time job. Yet, the dire decline of the health of my father over the last three months made it extremely difficult to even to make it to work two-three days a week. In fact, I was taken off of the schedule in anticipation of the care he would need once he was discharged from the hospital. I couldn't have known that he would never make it home.
It is with great humility that I have started this page. While Jesus has wrought unbelievable miracles in both mine and my father's lives over the last two years, financially it has been very, very difficult.
My beloved friends have raised $1,000 to help me. This gesture has humbled me and shown me just how much I am loved during this devestating time. It was a well-spring to my shattered heart.
Unfortunatly, it isn't enough. I will need to somehow raise another $4,000 for him to be cremated, and have a service to honor him as he deserves.
I'm trying to be hopeful that the Lord will provide. I'm trying to rest in Him about this. I have seen Him say "MOVE!" to many mountains in my life, and they were cast into the sea. I want to trust that this will be no different.
Over the last couple of days, I have begun to see that the tears of grief flowing out of my heart are a mighty expression of the love that I have for my dad. A friend told me that she thought it was beautiful. I am choosing to see it this way. I am choosing to grieve beautifully.
I am humbly asking you to, please, see what you can do to help me lovingly honor my father in death as I sought to do in life. I cannot do it without you.
With deepest gratitude to God for the assignment He gave me, and to all who may seek to help,
Christopher David Pratt
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