Sunday, November 8, 2009

James Shelton Shoning March 25th, 1947-November 7th, 2009

I somehow thought this blog would end up with my happy middle finger sticking up at everyone who doubted dad's recovery. A big "HAH, I TOLD YOU SO!!

Sadly it isn't.

Dad was sent back to Oelwein this past Tuesday. He was doing fabulous. He even told the nurses how much better he was feeling. On Friday around 6, I talked to Martha and she had just got an update that he was very alert and doing fine.At 10:30 I got a hysterical phone call that dad was in cardiac arrest and they were taking him to the hospital. I immediately went to Scotts. We pulled out of the driveway and I called the hospital and spoke to the doctor who worked on him. She said that the ambulance was able to revive him, but he was very sick, his white blood cell count was very high and to get our butts up there. She was having him flown to Covenant in Waterloo.
I was shocked. I know nothing is wrong with his heart, so what could it have been? I thought maybe he was septic from something, but how could he have gotten that sick in such a short amount of time?

Once we got to the hospital, they had him in CT scan, so we had to wait. After watching what seemed to be 3 episodes of 25,000 Dollar Pyramid in the waiting room, the doctor finally came up and took us in "The Room."

He told us how sick he was and that it looked like that he had a stroke. He was unstable but they were going to continue to do more tests. We asked to see him. He took us back and the second I saw him, I knew there was nothing left to fight for. One of his pupils was blown and his eyes were shifted up to the right. No reaction to light at all. I just looked at Martha and shook my head no.

We decided to stop all life saving measures. At 4 AM, we took him off of life support in the ICU and gave him morphine and ativan for comfort. We all stayed by his side, telling him stories, listening to music and holding his hand. Jordan and I had chairs pulled up to either side of him and had our heads on his legs. I had fallen asleep listening to the rhythm of his quite breaths. Jordan yelled my name and I jolted awake to see him breathing very slowly. We screamed at everyone to get back in the room and we were all with him as he took his last final breaths, talking him through it.

My dad died at 10 PM.

Now the hole that was in my heart that was created when my grandma died has become the size of what feels like my entire body. Dad is the glue that holds us all together, what always held me together. He was just like my grandma, had the ability to hold every one's attention and just had a sparkling, radiant personality that just drew people in. Always the center of attention.

The center of my life that I(we) worked so hard to save has just been ripped from me. He was right, he told me that he would die because of his brain and I told him he was wrong, and he would die from something stupid. I honestly thought that. It doesn't matter though, because I secretly hoped he would never die.

I see how many lives my dad has affected. When I started this blog it was because so many people kept asking me how he was and I would forget who I told what to. I have had people as far back as college, even the navy write to me about him. I have had people tell me that their co-workers who don't even know dad read my blog because they are interested in his life through his friends.

I am so angry that he had to be so far away through all of this! It isn't fair that he couldn't be surrounded by all the people who read this every day. No one should have to go what he went through, it was absolute hell. I can't believe he held on so long. Even after we took the vent off yesterday, we thought it would be a matter of a few hours. It was 18.

My goal was to get him home. I guess if you look at it in the religious sense, he is now. If we are talking location, he will be in Carlisle soon. I wanted him home. Sitting in front of the TV watching the L Word, or Battle Star Gallactica. I want him at the bar, throwing his empty beer bottle across the table when he was done to let the waitress know he needed another one. I want to hear him sing the stupid Newfie songs and see him walk around with his shirt off slapping his chest and pretending to punch every one in the face. I want to see him taking pictures of car accidents and high school seniors. I want to see him make everyone around him turn into a gullible idiot, because he had the ability to do so. I want to hear his complete inappropriate sense of humor at the wrong time. I even want to hear him yell at me and tell me how stupid I am. I want him to meet the children that I have some day and be the goofy grandpa. Hear is dumb "hen weigh" jokes and how he would yell "SNAKES!" when he would hit those rough road patches before a stop sign or tell Jordan to look in the air at the dead bird.

No one will ever replace the man that was my father. He was truly a one of a kind man. My life will never be the same now and I think I can even go as far as saying that Carlisle wont be the same now. I hope to give him the best celebration of his life and the best send off he deserves. His life was taken from him way too young, but now his suffering is over and all of ours has just begun. I love you Big Jim. I hope you and Skippy are at peace in Heaven now. (Or Octopus Garden) I love you, we all love you......

The End


  1. I'm so sorry! He was my friend. It hurts to know he's gone. Can't imagine how much pain you have as his family. Thank you for the many updates along the way. It was nice to know what was going on. You all will be in my prayers.

    Carmen McConnell

  2. Martha, Liza, Scott, Jordan - Nancy and I are very sorry to hear the news. We are thankful for the times we were able to see Jim in Chicago, Oelwein and Waterloo. He seemed to enjoy the visits. We will keep you guys in our prayers. If you need help with anything, please let us know.

    Dan & Nancy Ritchie

  3. You have done a tremendous job keeping us all in the loop and I would like to thank you for that. It takes a very strong person to be able to document what you have experienced.

    I can't picture any other way to end the nailed it! Great memories most of us have witnessed, although somehow I never had the opportunity to see him with his shirt off and slapping his chest.....damn!!!

    As you mentioned earlier on in the blog, we all wanted him to beat this and prove everyone wrong, but ultimately he all know he was in control.....what he wants, when he wants, no matter what anyone has to say! That is the Jim we all love and will never forget....

    Jim was very blessed to have such a great family who were devoted to his recovery.

    Mandy Williams

  4. We are so very sorry. We have missed our neighbor through this ordeal. He was truly a one-of-a-kind man. We are very thankful to have lived by him for 12+ years and will cherish every moment we had with him. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. He will be missed. We are right across the street, if you need anything at all, please let us know.

    Scott, Leigh, Courtney, Casey & Cade Carr


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