Why Furby Is So Special To Me
by Joyce Sammons
(Hodges, SC, USA)
Furby being a good little man
I realized today I've never shared the complete Furby story from the beginning. It began with Archie.
I first met Archie in 1973 at a high school football game. I was 12 and he was 15. He was my first boyfriend. He found me again in 1999 and soon told me he had 5 years to live due to liver disease. The one thing I promised him was he wouldn't die alone. I kept that promise in 2009. He made it 10 years.
I left him for the final time in August of 2006. Just because you love someone doesn't mean you can live with them. Just because you can't live with someone doesn't mean you don't love them. I know couples who would benefit from my logic. He had a terrible temper and we had arguments during our final year together that lasted all day.
Archie was diagnosed with lung cancer early in 2008. The diagnosis was 6-9 months. He wasn't a candidate for chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.
Archie remarried and the marriage was a disaster. I would visit him and his wife Debbie and was glad some of the responsibility was taken off of me. Until she left him.
He outlived the prognosis. On October 5, 2009 Archie had his last brain scan. His headaches had become so severe he cried. I went to stay with him for his last week at home. The man who loved to entertain others with his stories now had me turning away phone calls and visits from friends. He held up emotionally in front of his friends and family. During our private time together he cried. I administered his medication and made sure he ate. I helped him walk to the bathroom so he wouldn't fall.
I had appointments for Friday and he had a doctor's appointment. I dropped him off at his mama's for his sister Sarah to take him. He was unable to climb two steps into the house so we sat him in her car. I promised to return ASAP.
Archie's doctor said the cancer was in his brain now and ordered him admitted to the hospital to await a hospice bed. Archie was livid and had to be strapped down, then sedated. He wanted to die at home. But we had to consider what was best. Not what he wanted.
I arrived Tuesday morning before the transfer to Rainey Hospice House. As they wheeled him to his room, he turned to me and said "please tell me this isn't happening."
I arrived Wednesday with a packed bag and my laptop computer. Archie asked me again where we were and I told him we were at Hospice House.
On Thursday he called everyone in the family in to make amends. He had all of us crying...
The Archie I spent time with during his final weeks was a different man. My mama once told me that toward the end of life the good may get mean and the mean may turn good. This Archie said "please" and "thank you" every time I helped him drink.
I would like to explain hospice care to everyone. You have no idea how many people came to visit and asked where the feeding tube and the IV were. There are none because you’re not trying to get the person well. Archie’s son even asked me if we couldn’t send him back to the hospital so he could get well. He didn't understand the fight was over. Hospice House is about comfort-not healing. It’s about morphine and Ativan and having family there when you die.
Archie and I talked about dying because he'd accepted it by now. One day he said Little Shane had asked him to go hunting and I needed to go get his gun for target practice. Little Shane was my neighbors son who died at 15 in a horrible wreck back in January. He and Archie were best buddies because they were so much alike. They both liked guns and fire and repairing things. I told him to go to Little Shane and his daddy and they could go to heaven and find Farrah Fawcett. He smiled at that.
I kept the blinds raised so he could look out at the fountain and the birds feeding. I took pictures of him and of him and his kids Alison, Jonathan and Linc time alone with him. Alison told her dad she was pregnant. So was his son Jonathan's wife Veronica. He'd never see his grandchildren.
His preacher came and prayed with him several times, as did his half sister Annette and her husband Tommy. His sister Sarah was his power of attorney. I went home for one day on Monday October 19 and returned Tuesday at 4:30 a.m. Debbie had called.
I bought Archie a half gallon of buttermilk and he drank so much the day I brought it I was afraid to let his bed back down. Everyday I told him what liquids I had and let him choose. Sometimes it was Gatorade while others it was juice, tea, or water. By this time Hospice was bringing me a tray of food 3 times a day plus a snack cart went around at night..
From the time he arrived there he was given as much liquid morphine as needed. I would sit by him a few hours then go back to the couch because he refused to close his eyes. I guess he didn't want to miss anything. He'd raise his hand if he needed me.
On Wednesday October 21st I was awakened to the music of a harp. It's a very memorable experience. I went home for 2 days and returned that Friday to find him much worse. Saturday was a better day for Archie. His breathing had eased and he appeared more comfortable
On Sunday October 25th, Linc's mother Tammy visited and brought a few men from her church. They prayed with him and over him and had special prayer that I would hold together until this was over. At this moment I knew Archie was going to heaven. I later spoke to the staff and they agreed there had been a change in Archie. He was content and prepared to meet God.
I felt bad that he couldn't drink without choking. The liquids had been banned during a time I wasn't there and thought maybe with me there we could try the straw again. I sat by his bed and asked him to swallow so I'd know he could. He was still with us enough to communicate and did as I asked. The nurse suggested glycerin sticks after our final attempt actually swallowing liquid failed.
It was during this time I sat beside Archie, held his hand and gave him permission to die. I moved my bed next to his to be closer.
The doctor visited around noon that Wednesday and I gave him a quick update on Archie's conditions. We were cautioned Archie could die at any time.
Shortly after 2p.m. Wednesday Archie whispered his last "I love you" to me. At this point his eyes changed. I can’t describe it but you could tell he wasn’t in there. The rapid breathing had started back that morning and his heart rate was 125.
Earlier in the day a couple had come to the room and asked if I would like a touchstone of him. A small ball of clay is rounded and Archie's thumbprint was made on one side and mine on the other. I'd originally turned this down and decided I wanted this. My touchstone is black with gold specs and looks similar to a polished rock. I'll always treasure it.
I spent a lot of that day crying. His legs were like ice by 5 p.m. His heart rate was in the 160 range and his respiration was in the 40’s. By this time they were checking him every hour and writing down the numbers and keeping me informed. By midnight his respiration was 45 and it was hard to watch him. They had replaced the liquid morphine with something more concentrated. The nurse assured me he wasn’t aware of the panting and to call her back if he seemed in pain. When they turned him at 2 a.m. the nurse gave him more pain medication.
I got panicky and called Annette and Tommy. They returned and had prayer with him. Tommy told Archie to talk to God in his head. That God would hear him and forgive him for all of his sins. By this time all I could do was lay behind him on my bed and hold his hand and cry. He didn’t get any worse for an hour and I told them if they wanted they could go home. At 3:30 a.m. Archie had a seizure. The nurse brought more Ativan. I held his hand. At 5 a.m. the room got VERY cold and I sensed someone was there to take him home.
At 5:45 Thursday Archie stopped breathing and I hit the call button for the nurse. Everyone came running because at this point his legs were cold and stiff all the way up and his hands wer e cold. He’d quit squeezing my hand at midnight. We turned on the lights and gathered around him. His heart slowly gave out he died at 6:03 a.m. Annette, Tommy and Linc arrived soon after. I packed my bag, including the blue blanket that had covered him and cried all the way home.
I fulfilled my promise. He wasn't alone.
I decided at the last minute to say goodbye to Archie. We had 30 minutes alone at the mortuary. He was dressed in jeans and a tee shirt and would be buried by his father. I left before final prayer.
The road home is peaceful with only churches, farms and timberland. Suddenly something crossed the road in front of my car brought my attention back to my driving.
As I grew closer I saw it was a kitten. A very TINY kitten, oblivious to the dangers of the road. Every time I take this same route I see at least seven road-kills. I turned around and parked near an old barn. I looked down and couldn't believe my luck.
The smallest kitten I've ever seen sat quietly at my feet. It looked at me and I looked at it and in one move I scooped it up. Keep in mind I was dealing with a feral kitten that should have been terrified. I was looking at my own custom ordered kitten. It was a long haired gray tabby with blue eyes that would eventually turn green.
My new baby sat in the passenger seat and later finished the ride in the floorboard of my car. When I was about ten minutes from home I called my daughter and gave her instructions to bring a pillowcase out to my car when I arrived. She couldn't believe I was bring home a baby kitten. My new kitty didn't try to escape. It was a boy and he was all fur and no cat. My thumb and index finger could meet around his belly.
I now believe there are no coincidences. I left the funeral home because Archie and God knew how to ease my grief. Against all odds Furby and I found each other.
Furby saved my life.