A Letter to My Ultimate Guardian Angel

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(Blue pot) My father Larry loved plants.  I got this aloe for him about a month before he passed away.  It has enough stems to represent his closest loved ones:  me and my boyfriend, my brother and his wife, my three children and my mother.  (Green pot) This is “Tamika 2”, the plant I decided to challenge myself to care for because I’m a stone cold murderer of plants and fish. 

Dear Dad,

Where has the time gone to?  It’s been almost two weeks, and I feel like I’m still on Saturday February 13th, the morning you earned your wings.  Progress has been made.  Your cremation process begins today, and it’s all paid for thanks to you.  But, somewhere in the last few days, I got stuck on disbelief.  It wasn’t difficult to do.  Your presence is still very active.  It seems like you went on vacation instead of dying.  First, a package of medical supplies were delivered two days after you’d gone.  They were ordered by Hospice, proving even they didn’t know when your last breath would take place.  Next, your grandson has been crankier than cranky.  Remember how many times you told me to get him a tablet, and I refused because he’d broken two tablets in less than three months?  Your response:  “That’s your fault.  Get a protective case for it (numbskull)”.  My reply:  I didn’t want to spoil him because he had two deactivated smart phones that he can download the apps on.  You said with finality: “Get Diesel what he needs”.  I took advantage of your immobility and didn’t get it.  Up until last week, he had nothing computerized to play with.  I broke down and got the tablet (with a protective case).  He is less cranky now, but fighting a bad cold.  He has the same snotty nose that his Uncle Chris did at the same age.  I know you’d agree. 
I’m trying my best to take care of our plants.  Tamika 2 lost a leaf.  Mold started to grow on her top layer of soil.  I sadly threw away the leaf and turned the soil.  She’s doing better, and growing above the top of the pot.  I gave it some thought, and it seems logical that if I claim the plant as an extension of myself, I suffered loss, the plant would too.  The inspiration is her growth after acknowledging the loss and adjusting (tossed leaf, turned soil).  A few days later, your aloe lost two stems.  Again, I sadly threw them away and turned the soil.  The Holy Spirit reminded me that you had lost two limbs on Earth, and gained two wings in Heaven with full restoration.  If I think of that aloe as an extension of you, it’s logical that it loses two stems, but the remaining stems span apart as wings.  I suppose one day I’ll think of these as two ordinary plants, but I certainly hope not.  (See photos above).
Your cremation plans went smoothly.  I know you’d like what we’ve picked out for your urns: Black and gold; your high school colors, and a treble clef for your God gifted voice.  I truly appreciate your preparation for this time.  It’s made everything very peaceful.  My phone hasn’t rang a lot, and the calls I’ve received were genuine.  I’d been told the phones are off the hook for our family back in Maryland.  I think you’re behind that too somehow because you’ve always said I needed to get more rest.  Other thoughts are on my mind.  Such as, the timing of your death: relatively the same time as other world class musicians deemed legendary by people, but God decided to take you up the same time as them, giving you the victory and me giving Him the glory.  Maurice White passed days before you (a favorite of yours) and Vanity passed away days after you (another one of your favorites).  Yeah, the mind can connect unrelated dots, the heart creates coincidences, but only the Holy Spirit can provide confirmation, which He has several times. 
Now I am approaching the end of the month, and I have to clean out your apartment.  I have help, but going through a deceased loved one’s property is like them dying all over again.  What once felt peaceful and light is hardening to sorrow and absolution (I won’t see you again physically).  I wish it were the other way around because I feel like I’m digressing instead of progressing.  I realize grief is a process of several stages.  It must be mourned in order to be comforted.  I am okay with that. 
With you, your son Tyran (my brother 9-21-78 to 3-8-1992), your father (Bishop John Trammel, SR. 2-14-24 to 7-5-2000), and all of my grandmothers watching over me from above, I truly expect the miraculous and unexpected to take place here on Earth.  The Holy Spirit has blessed me with a strong band of angels.  There are plenty of other family members crossed over as well.  I confidently believe that the heavenly scales of favor have tipped– well, in my favor.   ….I had stopped working on this post for my tablet to recharge.  During that time, the Lord called on another angel linked to my household.  RIP Ronnie Dixon, brotherly cousin of my boyfriend.  The heavenly watch is fortified to include my household in entirety.  “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4 KJV). Bless the Lord. 
Dad, I truly cannot thank you enough for preparing us for what’s taken place.  It’s one of the greatest lessons a parent can teach their child, who is a parent themselves.  Having final wishes in writing and discussions with family made all the difference.  I realize the importance of the matter and will handle accordingly, ensuring the future of your grandchildren.  Although I can’t thank you in person, I know you feel it.  Other family members have told me that you’re utilizing the newly acquired skills of ambiguity, meaning that you’re making your spirit present to
them too and we’re thousands of miles apart.  It’s the reward of a believer, everlasting life.  It’s the duty of an ultimate guardian angel.  You.

Tamika Trammel is an author of two published novels: “18 Years of Grace and Mercy, A Teenage Mother’s Testimony, Vol. 1” and “The Pusher, the Prostitute and a Preacher”. Both available for purchase online http://www.TamikaTrammel.com or any book retailer. In eBook and soft cover. Purchase in lieu of bereavement donations will be most helpful.

The Transcendence of Reverend Larry Trammel

My father, Rev. Larry Trammel passed away on Saturday February 13, 2016 after a long battle of diabetes, kidney and lung cancer.  His battle was a physical confrontation between his flesh and disease, yet a spiritual transformation from fear to faith.  The following is a brief reflection of the whole ordeal that spanned almost five years.

Now that I can look back, it’s relatively easy to see where it all began:  October, 2010 in Baltimore, MD when my father underwent his first amputation.  Dad had acquired an injury on his right thumb that became seriously infected, which was extremely dangerous because of diabetes.  He was in danger of losing his entire hand and his life.  The awesome surgeons at the Baltimore Shock Trauma hospital saved his hand, only amputating a little more than half of his thumb.  It was a traumatizing experience.  There were several surgeries in the successful outcome.  For days, he had to lay in the hospital bed with his right hand surgically sliced open from the right thumb down his wrist, ending halfway at the forearm.  His wounds had to remain open and packed with gauze.  Dad did not like hospitals, and large building structures, mainly the inner city like Baltimore.  He was raised in rural areas with nothing but trees and fields.  The bustle of inner city life made him nervous and anxious.  I knew this, and decided to take time off from work to stay with him in the hospital for several weeks.  At this time, I was working for Montgomery County Police Public Safety Communications Center in Maryland (9-1-1 Police Call Taker/Radio Dispatcher).  My job had what was needed at the time of recession:  economic security.  And I was good at it.  I loved it, and still do even though I’m not there anymore.  The Holy Spirit made His first appearance to us in the midst of the storm in the form of a nurse.  One of the nurses serving my father was a mature Black woman that had the sweetest and easy going spirit needed for healing.  She was definitely utilizing her spiritual gifts.  Her demeanor reminded my father of his favorite aunt who had passed away a year or two before the events; therefore, he called the nurse “Aunt Elizabeth”, which she was totally okay with.  Baltimore is about forty-five minutes away from where we lived.  At the time, there wasn’t the family turn out that I had expected.   We have a big, close knit family and I thought they would have the room packed each day.  They didn’t.  I later overheard my father telling his mother over the phone that he didn’t want anyone to come see him, and learned that’s what he had been telling people who called.  I didn’t like it, but accepted the fact that he felt comfortable enough with just me or my brother with him.

Dad returned home after almost two months at Baltimore Shock Trauma.  His health was continuing to decline with recurring infections.  His mother, my grandmother late Reverend Mary Lucille Trammel (Grannie), tried caring for him the best she could.  So much so, she became sick herself and began struggling with kidney disease.  I used to work the midnight shift; therefore, on my days off and oftentimes after getting off work, I’d take them both to doctors appointments and run errands.  I learned so much from Grannie during that time:  her family history and the love of motherhood never faded.  She told me that my father was her toughest child to raise because of the fear and depression that raged within him for his entire life.  She even blamed herself for him being fearful and dreadful rather than taking control to get better.  I didn’t know it then, but she was providing me with the blueprint to care for my father in the time to come.

On January 11, 2011, I received a troubling diagnosis during an emergency room hospital visit.  I thought I was going to have a breathing treatment for the respiratory problems that I had every winter.  Instead, I was told that I had a blood clot in my lung…and a baby in my belly (9 weeks pregnant).  Six different doctors told me that my chances of surviving such a high risk pregnancy were extremely rare.  They were right.  I tried googling “pulmonary embolism during early pregnancy” and couldn’t find any related hits.  There were plenty of stories for postpartum, but none for pregnancy.  They all recommended that I terminate the pregnancy.  My boyfriend, my mother and my best friend were the only individuals I told for several weeks.  Naturally, they agreed with the doctors.  They didn’t want my life endangered and I already have two daughters age 18 and 14 at the time.  I needed to be around for them.  I prayed heavily over the situation.  The Holy Spirit (who is always there) appeared to me again, this time in a dream, telling me to keep the baby because he’s a boy and promised we will be fine.  I relayed the message to my loved ones.  It was much to their chagrin, but agreed to support me fully.  I visited my OB-GYN that I had a 19 year working relationship with because she delivered both of my daughters.  I had my daughters when I was 16 and 20 years old respectively.  For years, I begged her for a tubal ligation.  She’d always refused, telling me I’m a good and responsible woman.  She didn’t want me to be in a situation where I’d want it reversed like so many other young women eventually do.  This pregnancy was very different, and she remained committed to me making it through by referring me to a renown maternal-fetal specialist to see.  So, I began going to appointments, but still had kept my pregnancy a secret from my family until around Easter time when Grannie had to be rushed to the hospital.  I was on duty the morning when the 9-1-1 ambulance call went out to my grandmother’s house (where my father lived).  I advised my supervisors of the call, and told myself I’d go straight to the hospital when I got off at noon.  However, I soon received a personal call on my cell from my aunt (my father’s sister) stating that my father’s right foot had been constantly bleeding for days, and he wasn’t doing well.  I had to leave immediately to go see about him.  It was at this time that I revealed to him that he needed to fight for his life because he’s going to be a grandfather again, this time to a grandson as the Holy Spirit told me. This was very special because my son is the first boy born to our immediate family since my brother died of Burkitt’s Lymphoma cancer at the age of 13 in 1992. After a lot of fussing and refusal on his behalf, he agreed to go to the hospital.  Him and Grannie both remained in the hospital for weeks.  Grannie’s kidney woes were progressing into stages of failure.  Dad’s recurring infections were causing complications. I myself was taking five injections a day while pregnant:  two blood thinners for the blood clot, and three insulin for gestational diabetes.  My job placed me on light duty after I acknowledged to them that I had a panic attack on the radio during a good commercial burglary.  I handled the call just fine on the air, but my body felt like I could have dropped where I stood when I got up.  It’s not easy being placed on light duty when working for 9-1-1.  I had heard stories of struggle from other employees when going through hard medical times.  The supervisors did their job, which means they referred me to the Public Safety physician to be seen (after I had already seen the County government physician) to get a second opinion.  They told the appointed physician my condition, and he told them that he didn’t need to see me and to place me on light duty immediately because my condition was life threatening.  And it was done.  I was off the floor and transferred to Headquarters to work in the Warrants Section.  It’s now May-June 2011.  Dad and Grannie had hospital visits again (including contracting MRSA and ICU stays when their lives hung in the balance), and so did I.  For more than a week, all three of us were at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, MD.  My grandmother was on the 4th floor in the IMCU receiving treatment and recovery, I was on the 3rd floor in labor & delivery receiving treatment for pneumonia and the high risk pregnancy, my father on the 2nd floor recovering from his second amputation:  right leg below the knee.  At this time, family and friends visited in full force offering their support and prayers of comfort.  On July 21, 2011, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy after a harrowing and frenzied labor when I had to be placed under general anesthesia because an epidural would counteract with the blood thinners I was taking.  By now, Dad had been released from rehabilitation and Grannie moved to her eldest son’s home because the house they lived in was undergoing renovations.  This resulted in my father having to stay at the men’s homeless shelter for several weeks while I struggled postpartum.  The blood thinners caused three large hematomas to form in my stomach, which re-opened the Cesarean incision.  I had to receive home health care for almost two months in my maternal grandmother’s home (late Merle Mullen), which was a one bedroom apartment.  It was me, my boyfriend, our newborn, and my 15 year old daughter cramped in that space.  The whole time was really tough and to make it more memorable, an earthquake of 5.3 magnitude had hit the area, just as the nurse was literally treating me.  My boyfriend took great care of me in spite of his squeamish demeanor, he treated my incision so that it healed fully without further complications.  Once we moved out, my mission was to get my father out of the homeless shelter because it was extremely hard for him.  We obtained an apartment and stayed there for a few months until the Holy Spirit gave me instructions again.

I had to return to the hospital a couple weeks after giving birth because the incision re-opened and I had lost a lot of blood.  I can’t remember how many units of blood I had to receive for transfusion, but it was more than one.  I do remember the feeling of euphoria and slipping away from life.  It was the most wonderful and restful feeling I’ve ever had until I noticed my boyfriend sitting at my bedside tearfully begging God to spare me.  So, I got off the ride and came back (so to speak).  The Holy Spirit instructed me to leave my secure, good paying job in the middle of the country’s financial crisis (with a newborn and two teenagers to feed) and made these following promises:  1) a successful writing career (I had finished writing my first novel “18 Years of Grace and Mercy: A Teenage Mother’s Testimony, Vol. 1” shortly before Dad had to go to Baltimore hospital.  It got put off for obvious reasons); 2) my daughters will attend and finish college (my oldest was living in Phoenix and hadn’t started college or working yet and it bothered her), my youngest daughter will run in the 2016 Olympics (she was Montgomery County Track & Field 400M champion in the 9th grade at the time); 3) Manny (my son) will be taken care of for the rest of his life.  To confirm the instructions in the hospital, the first sermon I heard on WHUR’s Sunday Morning program at my grandmother’s apartment was a minister who said:  “the Lord will tell you to leave your good government job to show your faith, but the rewards are far greater than what any employer can pay.”  I reluctantly resigned from MCPD, gathered my family and my father to begin making plans.  The initial plans I had to move to Phoenix were just for me and my household.  My father hadn’t been included at first because of the health issues that he and Grannie was suffering, and he didn’t like to travel.  He had the opportunity to move to Phoenix with my mother in 2006 when they were still married.  However, he decided to let her go and they got divorced.  So when the spirit led me to ask him, I was kind of surprised at his reply:  “Thank you, Jesus!” he sincerely exclaimed when I asked.  He had fallen head over heels in love with his baby grandson, and wanted to spend every day with him that he could.  So around Christmas 2011, we made the arduous move to Phoenix, Arizona.

My father suffered from paranoia schizophrenia, and compared to others I’ve seen, his case was relatively mild.  Over the years, I’d watch my father’s personality switch on and off in the matter of milliseconds.  On one end, he owned the most God gifted, soul stirring, burden releasing, heavenly melodic voice that mortal man can have.  He was always at his best in front of a congregation with a microphone in his hand, singing the praises of the Lord until “the shout breaks out”.  I’ve witnessed repeatedly his gift making grown men cry like babies before God.  He is the best singer there is, famous or not.  There won’t be another like him.  On the opposite end, the same mouth that had a voice so heavenly also had a bitter, poisonous and hurtful tongue.  In times of stress (which is a lot), he’d said some of the most painful things to me (and others in our family) that were truly easy to form and hold grudges for, and very hard to get over.  The cussing, raging insults, and threats of bodily harm require God’s grace to deal with, otherwise, we would’ve been estranged many moons ago.  He became especially stressed when he had to stay at the men’s shelter, surrounded by strangers with their issues.  If he’d seen someone he knew, he’d avoid them because he didn’t want to be seen in the situation.  At first, he complained about the drug addicts, gay men, and absence of his extended family.  According to him, all of them had a special corner in hell–together.  By the end of his stay, he realized most of whom he met there at the shelter were just like him–men with some goodness in their hearts, but terribly messed up minds caught up in extremely bad situations.  The same folks in the shelter he complained about showed him kindness and protection because he was wheelchair bound.  Other residents were getting into brawls, had items stolen, and the like misfortunes.  But, not Reverend Larry.  He finally admitted that people whom he had misjudged actually treated him better than his own kin.  They humbled his heart into realizing that God is good in all things, not just what we are familiar with and used to.  When what’s familiar doesn’t happen, it’s God’s grace and mercy shown through the kindness of others that gets us through.  His family had been made incapable of rescuing him by God’s design, yet he survived.  He also survived the road trip across country from Maryland to Arizona (with my boyfriend and nephew who assisted on the trip) but it wasn’t easy at all.  Dad suffered a mental breakdown throughout the entire road trip.  My boyfriend has all the gritty details, so I can’t accurately recount them.  I flew to Phoenix with my kids for the move.  The guys got there about three days later.  Their arrival was like a hurricane making landfall.  My father was incensed with rage. He started cussing and fussing, and I couldn’t bridle my tongue any longer.  I fussed and cussed right back at him as if he and I weren’t of the same flesh.  He hurled threats and insults.  I yelled them right back. It had everyone that witnessed it in stunned silence (my mother, boyfriend, daughter and nephew).  Our argument even went as far back to my brother’s death.  But once it was over, it was over.  He and I didn’t bring it up again with each other.  I became grateful that we all made it here to Phoenix safe and sound.

Our new life was beginning in a new city and a new year, 2012.  I was feeling really good and strongly encouraged in the spirit because of all that He brought me and my father through in 2011.  My mother was overjoyed to have us in Phoenix because not one time could she nor my oldest daughter get back to Maryland during my pregnancy, which bothered them a lot.   My oldest (19 at the time) thought her little brother would grow up without knowing her.  I obtained two apartments:  a two bedroom for my family, and a single bedroom for my father.  We all live in the same building.  Mom and Dad were next door to one another, they a few doors down from me.  Prior to moving from Maryland, my first novel “18 Years…” was accepted by PublishAmerica (now called America Star Books, LLC).  I was going into the new year with the prospect of my first novel publication, an exciting time.  We settled in rather quickly, especially because the winters out here are too beautiful to be true (we pay the price during the summer though).  I got my daughters enrolled in college and high school.  My boyfriend got a job, and I remained at home raising our son.  I followed the instructions of the Holy Spirit and found a church home with Brighter Day Worldwide Deliverance Ministries in Tempe.  My father kept in close telephone contact with his family in Maryland because Grannie wasn’t getting any better.  Fortunately, in late June, I was able to return home with my son for a brief visit.  Grannie had become bedridden by then, but she recognized me.  I promised her that I would take good care of Larry and she didn’t have to worry about him.  He’s happy seeing his grandchildren everyday, which she knew because of their phone conversations.  The Lord called Grannie to heavenly home a few weeks later in July 2012.  We were unable to attend the funeral, partially for financial reasons (even though one family member did call and offer to pay for our travel), but mostly because of Dad’s delicate mental state.  He told his family that he truly wanted to be there, but telling me something entirely different.  I believe he was telling the truth in both instances because that’s schizophrenia.  That was one of his gifts too…telling people just what they needed or wanted to hear whether in spoken words or in song.  We were able to make it through yet another heartbreaking season.  My brother and his wife moved out to Phoenix at some point during 2012.  They moved in with our father and eventually got another apartment at a different location at the end of his lease.  I was able to complete my second novel The Pusher, the Prostitute and a Preacher and get it published.  2013 was going to be better than ever!!

Well, not so much.  As time was passing on, my son was not reaching his growth and development milestones.  By now, he’s 18 months old and not doing much more than a six month old.  He’s not walking, talking, eating, potty training or anything.  Moreover, I had informed his pediatrician of my concerns at all the check-ups and sick visits in between.  In February 2013, my son was accepted into the Arizona Early Intervention Program and United Cerebral Palsy program to receive intervention services for autism related disorders.  Home visits by specialists, therapists, and support coordinators still happen to this very moment and will continue as long as necessary and feasible.  Dad had moved down the street with my brother and that didn’t last the whole year.  It wasn’t supposed to.  The Holy Spirit came to me again in a dream and chastised me this time.  He stated that He instructed me to take care of Dad, not my brother.  And, he warned me about building obstacles that’ll block the blessings that are coming my way.  The Lord made a way for Dad to return to the same apartment he had before.  The timing was definitely divine and ordained because a new tenant moved in soon after Dad first left, and wondrously found another house to rent just before my Dad had to come back.  (The tenants never met my father by the way, so no coincidence involved). 2013 was filled with appointments, track meets, college scouting and a trip or two to a casino.  It went by pretty fast and less dramatic.  There was still drama, but I wasn’t directly involved so I won’t tell it.  By the end of the year, another divine promise came into fruition for my daughters.  My oldest was attending community college and working full time, and the youngest got accepted to Arizona State University on a 75% scholarship.  My father couldn’t have been more boastfully proud.  I couldn’t have been more spiritually relieved and believed!

Actually, I omitted some events.  Dad had been in and out of the hospital for some of 2012 and most of 2013 due to heart and kidney related complications stemming from diabetes.  I can’t recall those exact dates because they were pretty frequent.  Eventually, into 2014, he spent a lot of time between hospitals and rehabilitation centers for repeated infections of MRSA, gangrene, and sepsis.  There were a few times when clinically he should’ve passed away, but didn’t.  (In fact, it happened in Maryland too.  He had coded and clinically died for five minutes after his right leg amputation; however, he was resuscitated and fully recovered at the surprise of the entire medical team.  Most people don’t survive without having a stroke or some type of permanent brain damage.)  I started to hear rumors from Maryland that my uncles were going to come to Phoenix and take him back.  I became his medical power of attorney to prevent that from happening. Dad promised me that he wasn’t returning to Maryland and if he had stayed there, he would’ve been dead already.  It may have been the first of many times that my father thanked me for prolonging his life and giving him happiness.  However, I know that paranoia schizophrenia will cause him to say whatever to whomever and deny it later.  Maybe my uncles were reacting to what they heard from my father, or other people.  I can’t say for sure.  I do know they were missing his presence.  They’d gone a good while not hearing his singing voice stir up the spirit within the church services.  So, that had to be painful for everyone.  Either way, I shut those demonic forces down and kept taking care of my father the way Jesus told me to.  The next major blow came the day after my birthday (and Father’s Day for 2014) when I had to call 9-1-1 for him because his left leg was turning black and his blood pressure dropped dangerously low.  Before the paramedics arrived, he drank a bottle of cold water which increased his pressure to normal.  The medics did their evaluation and refused to transport him to the hospital because of the normal pressure, and from their assessment he seemed with it enough.  They convinced him that calling his primary care doctor the next day would be good enough.  I was pissed.  I argued with them about his medical history, showed them his blood pressure monitor readings, and said he is behaving confused, and even pointed out the little Hyundai Accent I had at the time and the difficulty it would be for me to transport him myself.  I even told them that I worked for 9-1-1 for 10.5 years and this instance is the very first time I can understand the public’s negative point of view on the industry.  After saying that, one asked if I wanted help getting him into the car.  I told him, “No thank you.  You’re more help getting the engines out of the way.  Be safe and have a good night.  Thanks for being no help at all.”  It truly hurt me to my heart that I was treated this way and I can’t rely on them.  (So, if you’re ever in Phoenix and need emergency services first call God, then call me, but do not call 9-1-1 unless you want to waste time or have personal connections).  I never called them again to date.  We arrived at the hospital, the ER doctor listens to me and said, “Yes. He definitely should’ve been transported.  He would’ve been dead had you followed their advice.”  He then took my father’s sock off his left foot and revealed the badly mangled, putrid smelling, infected limb.  Had the medics done the same thing, the story would be different. (Then again, they probably knew that already, but I can’t prove it.)  Within twelve hours, Larry  had his third and final amputation:  left leg below the knee.  He had been in and out of the hospital so frequently, he no longer required me to be with him overnight in the same manner as Baltimore.  But, as 2015 approached, he did say all the visits and appointments were wearing him down and would all come to an end sooner than later.

In January 2015, my maternal grandmother became seriously ill.  She was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away April 1st.  My mother flew back to Maryland to care for her those last several months.  Two weeks after Grandma’s diagnosis, my father received news that a mass had been located in the right kidney.  No biopsy needed.  The location of the mass indicated malignancy and the best treatment option would be to remove the whole kidney.  Afterwards, he’d have to receive dialysis for the rest of his life and any chemotherapy for metastases.  If he had no treatment, his life expectancy was about two years maximum.  His response:  “I guess I better make this the best two years that I can.”  I instantly burst into tears.  I pleaded with him to give it time, and think about it, his grand kids.  Doesn’t he want to be there when they walk the stage at college graduation?  And his grandson’s first day of kindergarten?  He didn’t answer me then, and we never returned to that doctor’s office.  His mind was made up.  No more surgeries.  Besides, his cardiac condition may have been too weak to survive.  At least that’s what the doctor had said, but we’ve proved them wrong before.  None of it mattered.  He left it in the Lord’s hands.  His insurance plan quickly referred him to Palliative Care.  They sent us a born again, saved sister in Christ who visited him several times a week for the next six months.  (And just to be fair because I mentioned the race of the nurse from Baltimore, this nurse is White.)  Dad had done so well that they discharged him from the program by late June.  However, things took a bad turn in July, somewhere around the 4th.  He had been down to my apartment earlier and visited.  Everything seemed fine.  Later in the day, I felt like having a cookout.  Something we cannot do out here is cookout on the grill (mostly because it’s our apartment owner’s policy).  I decided that we would go to my oldest daughter’s apartment and cookout there because they have a grilling area.  Dad declined to go.  He said he was tired.  I didn’t think much of it because he was up rather early.  I checked on him after returning home from the cookout.  He was unresponsive with his eyes wide open.  I began to frantically shake him and yelling his name.  After what seemed like forever but was probably no longer than two minutes, he came back and answered my questions (what day is it, what’s my name, what’s his name, etc).  He couldn’t answer them as easily as he should.  My mother and I gathered him into the car, back to the ER we go…for what we didn’t know then was the last time.  The news wasn’t good and very confusing.  According to the hospital, the mass found on the kidney wasn’t cancer, but tissue damage from diabetes; however, there was a suspicious mass on the lung.  They suggested doing a biopsy and some other invasive testing that my father flat out declined.  Hospice care was activated through Hospice of the Valley (HoV).  Again, the Lord sent us women (and a man) that are saved as well as compassionate.  HoV provided care and support with home visits a couple times a week with the same nurse and medical assistant just the way Palliative Care had done.  Their caring and compassion are truly genuine.  I’ll admit my ignorance.  My opinion of hospice was that they come around and watch the patient pass on.  I know that sounds harsh, but I formulated the opinion about them when I was 15 years old and my 13 year old brother was dying.  I recall a hospice nurse being there, and I was nice to her, but honestly, my thought was “why are you even here?”  That’s something the Lord wanted to change about me, and He did.  On August 28, 2015, Larry hit the milestone that he didn’t think he would reach:  turning 60 years old.  Two of his brothers and two of his closest cousins (raised like brothers) came to Phoenix to help him celebrate.  It was a surprise that he truly enjoyed.  They got him out of the house, drove around the city and got him to sing!!  It was beautiful, right here in my living room.  Dad led us in old church songs.  I can’t even remember what they were because I was in the highest spiritual zone I could be in at the time.  By Christmas, Larry was telling me that he knew he was celebrating his last.

On Super Bowl Sunday 2016, the whole situation went downhill very quickly.  I went to pick up Dad and wheel him back to my apartment to watch the game.  He had been suffering with excessive fluid and swelling over his entire body, making it difficult for him to maneuver.  I parked him on the sidewalk and go to close his front door.  In a matter of seconds (and I’m not much further than two feet away from him), he slowly rolls off the curb onto the ground face first, wheelchair on top of him.  It looked like he did it on purpose, but what I know now is that he was confused and maybe slightly unconscious because he didn’t yell, put up his hands, or nothing to brace himself during the fall.  Blessedly, my boyfriend was also outside at the time, so we got Dad up rather quickly with scrapes on his knuckles and knees, and a gash on his forehead.  I contacted Hospice who sent out an emergency nurse.  The nurse arrived during the second half of the game.  She is also saved (and White), and told us that she was from Poolesville, MD and graduated from Gaithersburg High School. She’d moved to Phoenix in 2012.  Our mouths literally gaped open because that’s our hometown, Montgomery County, MD.  We told her that Dad went to Poolesville High School, I attended their elementary and high school (when it was junior-senior high of course), and he worked at Gaithersburg High for over ten years.  We chatted about landmarks back home and here in Phoenix.  We were her last patient visit after a long day of emergency visits expanding all over the valley.  It was so awesome that we had to thank God for the encounter.  The next morning, Dad’s assigned nurse arrived much earlier than usual because she read the weekend report that recorded his fall.  He was awake, in his wheelchair and coherent.  She still noted that he wasn’t looking like he was feeling well, even though he said he felt fine other than excessively sweating.  Before noon, Dad told me he “wasn’t feeling right”, and asked to be placed in the hospice bed. Prior to that, he almost always slept on the couch, in his wheelchair or his own bed.  Larry couldn’t speak a full sentence.  What he said sounded like gibberish.  He’d fallen asleep and breathed very heavily.  I tried calling his name and he wouldn’t respond; however, my son (who is non-verbal from autism) was sitting ten feet away intermittently yelling.  My father would turn towards him and faintly call out his nickname.  Once Dad could put a sentence together coherently, he told me to take my son home.  I replied that my son had been given a chocolate milk and should quiet down soon.  Dad said it wasn’t the noise that bothered him, but my son was yelling because he didn’t want to be there.  I told him that my boyfriend would be home soon to get him.  Dad’s medical assistant arrived to give him his bath.  He was so unresponsive that he couldn’t be moved.  The poor lady bawled her eyes out and placed a call to his nurse to return.  She even told me that she was sorry, but didn’t know how much longer he had.  The nurse returned to see my father lying unresponsive in the bed.  She gently roused him awake to answer standard diagnostic questions.  His blood pressure was slightly elevated but good, respiratory rate was good too.  The nurse told me that something wasn’t right.  What he had going on was not due to cancer.  She asked him if he checked his blood sugar.  He said yes. I told her no he didn’t.  This is important because Larry was admitted for cancer, not diabetes.  Hospice was not required to check his sugar levels.  In fact, he had been told prior to the cancer diagnosis that he was no longer diabetic because his A1C measured below a 5.0.  He was permitted to eat anything he wanted because the matter was about enjoyment rather than prevention.  I had discarded all of his diabetic medications quite a while ago, or so I thought.  The nurse measured his sugar and unveiled the culprit.  The meter said 525.  She quickly obtained the sliding scale to measure the dose of insulin he should receive and gave it to him.  Within minutes, Dad was coherent again, asking where his grandson is and to check if he’s okay.  He also asked if the tearful medical assistant had came.  He measured the time of day by looking at the shadow of the Venetian blinds against the wall.  “Where has the day gone?  It’s evening time now…” he said.  The nurse had reiterated to me that he’s to be on twenty-four watch.  Someone had to be with him at all times.  That was difficult because of my son’s schedule with school and therapists.  Larry made it harder by telling me to go home and take care of my family, just to leave him in the hands of the Lord.  I tried to reason with him, stating that I could go to jail if I left him.  He didn’t argue, just repeated himself.  He also told me it wouldn’t be too much longer, and he hopes it’s Tyran (my brother, his first born son) that came for him.  He was ready to not be fearful of anything anymore.  My daughters and mother provided supervision support.  They stayed with him in the evening and overnight when I had to be away.   My mother said that he asked where I was to make sure I was getting some rest.  The medical assistant returned on Thursday and gave him a thorough bath in the bed.  He was very appreciative and said so; however, he didn’t have the energy to get a shave and haircut too.  X-rays done that week had shown congestive heart failure.  He was filled with fluid and had to be placed on 32 oz. restriction.  (Looking back on it, it’s the only time I can recall him being so thirsty yet so filled with liquid.)  I received a phone call from my son’s school nurse on Friday, the day before my father passed.  They told me my son could not return to school without a doctor’s note.  He’s been suffering low grade fevers and ear pain since having tubes placed in mid-January.  I had already scheduled my son to be seen by the doctor on Presidents’ Day anyhow, so it wasn’t a problem.  My father overheard my conversation and said, “I’m off the 24 hour restriction.  You don’t have to watch me.”  I asked him who was it that gave him permission to be off the restriction.  He said his grandson and for me to take care of him.  I laughed it off, told him I was leaving, but coming back.  My mother was there and spent several hours with him that evening.  Even though they are divorced, neither one of them started new relationships.  They’ve always loved each other.  That never ended.  Their patience for one another is what ran out.  I did come back later, got him ready for bed and the very last dose of medication I’ve ever given:  .25 morphine.  I’d given him the first dose at 5 pm, another at 10 pm.  After the 5 pm dose, he had a message for the nurse. He said:  “Tell (the nurse) that they know Hospice can afford to buy their patients a fifth of vodka, because that’s exactly what that stuff tastes like.”  My oldest daughter stayed with him overnight.  He kept asking for water during his slumber which my daughter didn’t oblige because of the water restriction.  I had told him he couldn’t have anything else to drink for the night, but there would be a nice cold diet orange soda waiting for him.  He just had to make it to the morning.  When I called in the morning, she said he hadn’t said anything for a while.  She called out to him. “Mommy, he isn’t responding…” I heard her say as I rushed into some clothes, and ran out the door.  I got there and could tell immediately he entered eternal sleep.  He looked so peaceful.  It was quiet just the way he wanted it.  Moments later, his oldest brother called and asked how was Dad doing.  I told him he’s gone.  Later, I called my uncle again.  He told me that he had a dream that my father was talking to my brother in Heaven, so he immediately called me.  That eased my spirit tremendously.  My father got what he wanted, to greet his first born at Heaven’s gate.  I am truly at ease.

In retrospect and hindsight, Reverend Larry Trammel was selfless in his journey.  #1.  He did not want others weeping over his suffering.  All of his life he felt bound by fear, anxiety, depression and grief.  Those are feelings he did not want to pass along to others.  #2. He did not want to be caught up in the rumor mill and the general he say/she say banter.  As he used to say, “don’t give people the opportunity to lie to you.”  However, I’ve always thought he underestimated how much people loved him.  The number of hearts he’s filled with joy, smiles he’s placed on faces, and most importantly the number of souls that came to Jesus Christ because of his spiritual gifts is immeasurable.

This blog entry is intended for those of us here on Earth mourning Reverend Larry Trammel to heal and go on with our lives. I realize it’s difficult for people to let go of someone so special, especially because a great majority of those who loved him didn’t know how much he suffered physically, mentally, and emotionally.  It’s not so hard for me to let him go because I witnessed everything first hand.  I love him dearly, and very heavenly happy for him that he’s not suffering.   Yet, in his suffering, he rarely complained of pain (other than phantom pain after the amputations).  I choose to grasp hold of the lessons he’s taught through his sermons, his lifestyle, his spiritual gifts.  I pray that all readers will do the same.

So please, live life to the fullest with the spirit of the Lord not only in our hearts, but in our actions, in our speech, in every aspect of life.  What I’ve learned about this journey is to remain obedient to the Holy Spirit and never fail at showing your love.  Let our sweat and tears of pain be the water upon our sowed seeds of faith that reaps a bountiful harvest.  Truly get an understanding of the Holy Spirit for yourself.  It’s truly an amazing thing.  As my grandfather late Bishop John Trammel, Sr. and my father Reverend Larry Trammel said in their sermon closings:  May God bless you, and Heaven smile upon you.

 

Tamika Trammel is a published fictional novelist.  Check out her books:  “18 Years of Grace and Mercy: A Teenage Mother’s Testimony, Vol. 1” and “The Pusher, the Prostitute and a Preacher” available for purchase online:  www.TamikaTrammel.com, Amazon, B&N, or any retail bookstore.  Just ask an associate for ordering assistance.    5 Star rated!!  Help me sell enough, they’ll make it to the store bookshelves.  If you’re waiting for that, you’ll miss your chance of being a blessing.  By then, you’re following a trend.  Do it now, you’re following the Holy Spirit.