Teri and I sat up all night last Saturday watching over Dad as he struggled through a long and worrisome night. At one point, he even said “Good Bye”. Early Sunday morning, we called Hospice and a wonderful nurse came around noon.  It was amazing to see the transformation. Dad literally perked up right before our eyes. His voice got stronger, his posture straightened and you could almost see his determination take on a new life of its own. It was as if he had seen death and decided NO STINKING WAY!  

New medications were prescribed and Dad has responded better than expected since Sunday; although, personally, Teri and I feel that it might have been the arrival of Grandsons… Brandon, Ryan and Jason, that might have done the trick. Or it could have been the smells wafting from the kitchen, courtesy of Elena (a true culinary genius, with a golden giggle) and Roger…or maybe it was the laughter and the pitter-patter from the feet of Dad’s Great-grandchildren Dakota and Aiden and their pretty mama, Kaila….Who cares what it was…we will take it and be thankful!

Dad continues to be very weak and tired, but the medications seem to help with nausea and loss of appetite; although, Dad is still very jaundiced, wobbly on his feet and still exhibiting a host of other symptoms that are not so pleasant. Yesterday’s hospice visit was reassuring that the medications are keeping Dad more comfortable and pretty much pain-free. We are realistic that at this point…we are not going to get a cure despite our fervent prayers. The “C” Monster is a dreaded beast and is not going to retreat quietly…but neither is Rayford Ennis Cook!  His lifelong stubbornness, determination and True Grit have served him well this past week. So despite his firm faith and confidence in a resurrection, he isn’t quite ready to close his eyes…not just yet. 

Dad is more than delighted to have his family circle the wagons and stoke the family fires.  The reminiscing has kept us up all hours of the night and you can wave your hand through the air and touch the love. Teri has set up Skype and Dad has been able to talk with Leanna, Danielle and Sophia, and then Randy, Dustin and Kate also Skyped. He has received numerous calls from other family members and visits from local friends. That, along with being able to reach out and touch Grandsons that have been separated by a Continent and sit with Son and Daughters, has planted a smile on Dad and Mom’s faces. We worry that all the activity might be to wearing on him….but when asked, he says “Bring it on.”  This time is a gift…this Cook Family Reunited…Ray and Carol Cook’s Progeny.

So Brandon returned to Florida and Jason and Ryan went back to their jobs. Elena is home and Roger is leaving later today and get this…Teri, Mom, Dad and I will be heading to Salem for a two-day Circuit Assembly. Yep…Dad does not want to miss the Bible convention and is determined that we should go. Teri and I have more than a little bit of concern about this trek, but we are going to do things the RAY WAY. His attitude is “What do I have to lose?” 

On another note….YOU, our friends and our family, are amazing! Your comments have strengthened us, your prayers have built us up, your love has warmed our souls and we feel so blessed to count you as our loved ones. Thank you … it means more than you can imagine. We read each of your comments to Dad and each one elicits new remembrances from him that are so precious. We have learned so many things about his life when he was younger, times spent being raised with his cousins. He absolutely loved and adored Aunt Rosa and his cousins…and truly appreciates the sacrifices that his Aunt and Uncle  made to raise him when his parents died when he was just a tot. The stories are amazing.

Dad speaks of the people in Covina and South Gate who embedded themselves into our hearts. He also loves hearing from our girlfriends, Allison, Paula, Leisa, Tammy and Linda….and all the other honorary “Cook Girls”…and he expresses his gratitude and appreciation that your friendship, support and love has proven to be lifelong and true. You know you are his other daughters and he adores each of you.

He is proud that we continue to choose the best of friends. Last week, we received a beautiful gift basket of pears, apples, sausage, cheese, pretzels, popcorn and chocolate from our friends, the Harding’s in Ventura, whom he has only met once or twice and he was so touched by the their generosity and comforting words. 

WE HAVE THE BEST OF FRIENDS…YOU!! Thank you so much. Truly, we are so blessed….and you are so LOVED!