Member Articles & Stories
Marlin "Dick" Wilson
loving dad left us to be with our Lord last year on
May 18, 1997 - a victim of the horrible monster called CJD. Dad was in
perfect health and at age 74, could easily pass for a man of 60.
Our journey into
a hell on earth began at the end of March of 1997. Dad began having
difficulty keeping his balance and he said he felt dizzy. He was diagnosed
as having an inner ear infection and received antibiotics from his doctor.
Shortly after that, he went to his optometrist because he was having trouble
reading his newspaper. He made several trips back to the eye doctor because
in Dad's words, "The doctor keeps making mistakes." He even
accused the doctor of giving him glasses with no prescription at all. We
suspected that Dad could possibly be the victim of a slight stroke and
scheduled him for a visit with an ophthalmic neurologist in Dallas. The
neurologist confirmed on April 11th that Dad had a stroke in the occipital
lobe. He was scheduled to return the middle of May for an MRI. This was also
my parents' 55th wedding anniversary. I spent the day with my parents and my
dad stayed in his recliner pretty much the entire day. I became worried
because my dad never sat still for anything! I also noticed at this time
that his left hand was turned down and he didn't seem to want to use it.
this time, Dad really started going downhill fast. My mother was forced to
drive everywhere they went because he would become so afraid. As April
progressed, he began showing signs of dementia. By the first week of May, we
were horrified at his downhill slide. He couldn't see, he couldn't walk very
well and his personality was changing dramatically. He became very nervous
and paranoid. He also would speak loudly and say things that did not make
sense or didn't fit the topic of conversation. It was at this time that my
mother saw something in his eyes that really frightened her and she took Dad
to the Emergency room at our small town hospital in Texas. He was admitted
and subjected to a battery of tests. Everything kept coming back negative
except the spinal tap which showed an elevated level of protein. I searched
my computer and came up with a few possibilities, one of which was CJD. I
printed the material and took it to Dad's neurologist. The doctor laughed at
me and told me that CJD was a very rare disease and I should "get off
of the Internet." Different doctors would come in, look at Dad and then
declare that he had:
1) A Stroke
Some type of vitamin or mineral deficiency.
Acute Psychosis (I really wanted to hit the doctor that said this! He said
that Dad would "come out of it when he was ready to face whatever was
By May 9th, Dad
was completely bedridden and was semiconscious. He had lost his ability to
communicate with us. Within a day or two, we dismissed the neurologist who
had laughed at me and had Dad moved by ambulance to Dallas. His doctor
wasn't sure Dad could survive the trip. We were so scared. I think it was at
this point that I began to believe that Dad might not survive this.
When Dad got to
the Dallas hospital, he was again poked, prodded and tested. Because he was
on pain medicine, we were unable to get an accurate reading on his EEG. The
MRI showed nothing. A spinal test showed nothing. I remember feeling so
helpless and scared -- there wasn't much on the computer about CJD. Also, no
one would positively diagnose Dad as having CJD. Groups of doctors would
come in and examine him and go away. We felt so alone. My mother, brothers
and I had prayed constantly for a miracle over these past few weeks. On
Thursday, May 15th, I realized that Dad was not going to make it and I
needed to rethink what I was praying for. My dad was a proud man who would
not have wanted his dignity compromised. He was gentle, quiet and strong.
The only thing in life that he was afraid of was dying a slow death
from Alzheimer's in a nursing home. I couldn't comprehend that what my dad
could have was far worse than Alzheimer's, but at the same time, I realized
that this with this disease, Dad would not suffer long and he could maintain
his dignity. My dad would never have wanted to live as a vegetable. He was
our rock, our strength, our advisor and our protector.
On May 17th, my
dad's body started shutting down. His doctors had been amazed that he had
lasted through a week of high fever and pneumonia. His heart was so strong,
but his brain and his body was weakening. I knew that when
his blood pressure started going down, he didn't have much time left with
us. On May 18th, at 7:30 pm, Sunday evening, I sat with Daddy and held his
hand and talked to him. I was alone with him and I told him everything I
knew about what was wrong with him. I told him that I knew that he was ready
to go to Heaven and it was OK. I told him to go on, that his parents and
sister were waiting for him. I told him to go deer-hunting as much as he
wanted to (this was a family joke -- my mother didn't like it when he left
her and went hunting). All of this time, Dad seemed to be listening to me
even though he couldn't respond. His eyes, which had previously
been cloudy, were clear. As I continued to talk to him, I felt his soul
slipping away. It was an incredible experience that I cannot put into words.
I know that he spared my mother the pain of watching him go by waiting until
she was asleep. My brothers had all had time alone with him and I believe
that he was waiting until he had the chance to tell each of us good-bye -- I
was the last child and the last to have time with him alone.
I know for a
fact that there is life after death. I only glimpsed a very small part of
what Dad experienced, but it was enough to send chills down my spine and put
joy in my heart (at such an incredibly sad moment) because I know without a
doubt that he is in Heaven -- walking, talking, telling funny stories and
enjoying his eternal reward for living such a good life on Earth. I think
Dad taught me the ultimate lesson in his last few minutes with us: We must
not fear death but consider it just as a stepping stone to something so
incredible, it is indescribable. As a footnote, an hour or so after Dad
passed away, my mother (who had been asleep down the hall when Dad slipped
away) looked at me and asked me what I had said to Dad about deer hunting.
There was no way possible for her to have heard me discussing with with Dad
before he died. I know that it was Dad's way of telling me that he heard me
and he was whole and happy again.
miss you, we love you and we will see you again very soon!