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Perry Marlin "Dick" Wilson

My wonderful, 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.  

Shortly after 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

2) Some type of vitamin or mineral deficiency.

3) Parkinson's

4) 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 bothering him")

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.

Daddy: We miss you, we love you and we will see you again very soon!


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