We are in Odessa this week before Steffany's wedding because my father-in-law, who has been battling cancer for the last 6 years or so, had a stroke Friday, August 7th. At that time, he became non-responsive and slipped into a coma. He was already in a hospice house to manage his pain (he'd been in and out of the hospice house several times in the past year). The doctors and nurses told the family this looked like it would be his final hours and they might want to get all in the family here quickly.
We remained at home until Monday because we had to go with Steffany and her fiancee to get their marriage license, since she is still a minor. After some last minute chaos at the courthouse (lost money), we scrambled, got it together and then headed out for Odessa.
We arrived in Odessa about 5pm Monday, and went straight for the Hospice House. Tom was still clinging to life. We were told even though he was in a coma, he could hear us and would at times wrinkle his forehead and even try to open his eyes a bit.
A large group of us encircled his bed, sharing past stories and catching up. As the hour got later, the silence grew in the room as we listened only to the sounds of Tom's shallow breathing and ticking of the clock on the wall. We decided it would be a good idea to "sing" him to Jesus. We chose several gospel songs Tom had loved and all joined in singing. It was a lovely sound. Slowly, members of our group said their goodbyes and slipped from the room. Around 12:30, I took my turn and took the kids to my mom's to try and sleep some, leaving James and a few others to sit vigil with Tom.
My cell phone rang a few minutes before 5 in the morning. James simply said 4:46. That is the time Tom slipped from this world and followed his saviour home to heaven.
Tom's wish was for nobody to spend a large amount of money on his death and burial, so he asked that his body be donated to science. So, after his body was picked up at 7 that morning, there would be no more viewings, etc.
Below is the obituary the family asked me to prepare to run in the local Odessa American Newspaper:
ODESSA Dudley Thomas “Tom” Wooten, Jr., 66, a lifelong resident of Odessa, passed away Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009, at Hospice House of Odessa following a very long, courageous battle with cancer. He was born Dec 31, 1942 to Dudley Thomas Sr and Zelma Wooten.
Tom was a retired tool pusher and driller.
He and wife Betty Jane Nelson, married for 42 years, raised a large, loving family, who will miss him very much.
Preceding him in death are his parents, three brothers, Nicky, Terry and Curtis, and sons Tommy Ray and Troy Lee.
Left to grieve his loss are wife, Betty, sons: Terry and wife Rena, James and wife Vanessa, and Ronald; daughters: Janice and husband Scott, and Lavada and husband Wayne; brothers: Jim and wife Rose, Bill, Allen and Dub and sister Joyce, along with sixteen grandchildren: Diana, Tisha, Tammy, Tommy Allen, Angel, Gene, Mindy, Brandon, Misty, Aaron, Natasha, Kathy, Ryan, Shawn, Steffany, and Joshua; and 28 great-grand children.
A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held 10:30am Thursday, August 13th at West Odessa First Baptist Church with Bro. Glenn Clark officiating.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the Hospice House of Odessa.
The family wishes to extend a heartfelt thanks to the Hospice House staff. Words cannot express our gratitude for your kindness, gentleness and compassion during Tom’s passing.
Some of my fondest memories of Tom include.....
when he came to the hospital after Joshua was born and just sat and held him, staring at him for what seemed like hours. He was so proud of that baby boy......
and then finding out that Tom walked the aisle at his church in Odessa the same day as Josh did at our church, both telling their respective preachers that they wished to be baptized. Tom and Betty were baptized a week after Josh so we could be here to see them. And the church here in Odessa got ahold of the video of Josh's baptism and played it for the church just before proceeding with Tom and Betty's baptism....
and Tom loved to hunt and fish with James and Josh. Tom and James even picked out a special gun to give Josh that had two different size barrels on it. It is certainly one of Joshua's most prized possessions today.