Semper Paratus is the motto of the U.S. Coast Guard. It means, “always ready.” Jim served in the Coast Guard from 1990-1994. I didn’t know him then, but I have learned over the years how much that time serving in Alaska meant to him. I know that he was “always ready” to enjoy the Alaskan scenery. He was “always ready” to carry out his duties. He was “always ready” to have a good time. He was “always ready” for an adventure, like the time he used his leave time to hop on a military plane to Japan. He was “always ready” for a smile and a laugh.
Now that he has spent 11 weeks in hospice care, Semper Paratus has taken on new meaning. These days, Jim is “always ready” for pain medication. He is “always ready” to nap. He is “always ready” to talk about food and plan his next meal. For those of us caring for him, we are “always ready” for bad news. We are “always ready” for the other shoe to drop. We are “always ready” for heartbreak. Yet, none of us are ready for what is to come. We know it is coming. We even pray for it so that Jim can be free of pain. But we can never really be ready. I’m not ready to say goodbye. I’m not ready to watch my children lose their Daddy. I’m not ready to be alone.
Yesterday, Jim’s hospice team came to the house and held a short veteran’s ceremony during which they presented him with a pin and a handmade lap blanket to honor him for his time served in the Coast Guard. Jim’s mom and my parents were able to be with us for the service. They even presented my dad with a pin for his service in the Air Force. The chaplain said a nice prayer, and we all shared some smiles, which have been few and far between as of late. I am so proud of Jim for all that he has accomplished in his life. I asked him if it would be o.k. for me to share pictures from the service, and he said it was alright with him. He is, by far, the strongest person I know.
Semper Paratus: With Fierce Hope,