Category Archives: A Glimpse of the 8th Child

Our bridge between

That we would grow up to be unique individuals: that  is what my parents always wished for their nine children. And now, in the last hours–or possibly days, should the bull moose refuse to relinquish his already tentative hold on life–we react as unique individuals to my father’s expected passing. Some question, others accept. One communicates, another withdraws. Some plan ahead, others reminisce. How different we all are.  What we have in common is that he made us who we are.

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Finding life among the clouds

I always hold my breath, if only for a moment, as I take the corner from the hallway into my father’s room in rehab. Will he be up? Will he be dressed? Will I find him tired or talkative? And then there is always the fear that, one day, when he sees me, he might not remember me–though, thankfully, this is a groundless fear to date.

This day he is stretched out on his bed, fully dressed, his arms back, his fingers laced behind his head. It reminds me of how we laid on the ground as children, watching clouds float above, imaging angels and demons and any number of exotic beasts in their passing shapes.

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As the saying goes

The last week has brought wind and rain, deep milky fog and powerful thunderstorms that shrouded the skies in darkness. Yes, that was the weather, but it aptly describes my moods–my life–as well. A journey of transitions: some gradual, some abrupt, none avoidable. These times they are a’changing as the saying goes.

Each morning, I find respite in that first-of-the-day walk with the dog. It may be brief, but it is precious. It is the meditation for which I don’t otherwise find the time. Bless you, my furry friend, for distracting me from my troubled thoughts. Thank you for your attention to the flowers in the yard, the bird on an overhead wire.

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Home

He’s coming home.

Did we ever really think we would call the apartment at the assisted living facility “home”? Could home ever be anywhere but at the big house where they had raised their nine children? It that not a word reserved for a place of long-lived memories–a sacred place?

He’s coming home. If all goes as planned, the day will mark precisely four weeks, a total of 28 days apart from his love–his life. The first days were agonizing. Did he know where he was? Why he was there? How does a 97-year-old man with dementia survive a hospital stay and weeks in rehab? I saw him cleaved in half, torn from the arms he has known for seventy years. I felt his pain. If I could be his crutch, I would bear his weight without complaint. I can do little except touch his hand, smooth his hair and love him. And yet, as the days drag by, I watch as this man endures. Eventually, he understands. He complies. He works hard. He wants more than anything to go home. And he shall.

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No road map for the aged

His jaw, still strong, sits the tiniest bit off kilter, unnoticeable unless you’ve known otherwise. His hands are softer. His legs are weaker. His brow is furrowed as his mind does its best to stay with us. So much is different. Everything is different.

His iron will is bending for the first time. He no longer says he’s aging–he knows he’s old. So very old. 97 is not easy and he tells me so.

“He’s having some doubts.” My mother does not need to expand on her comment. I know. I can see it happening.

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