It is just over 12 hours since my father has passed from this earth. It’s been a time full of phone calls and discussions held with family, friends and Facebook. The outpouring is overwhelming. When this time passes and his death is no longer immediate, I ask myself, what is it about him I will miss the most?
I’ll feel his loss a million ways, of course. I’ll miss that strong jaw, his practical manner and calm demeanor and, especially, the way we grew closer as his body grew weaker. I will see shadows of him everywhere, and every corner of my life will feel the void. But what I’ll miss most is the privilege of witnessing the love he showered upon my mother, a love incomparable. It was unmistakable, intangible, a force of nature: the way he looked at her, the way he loved her. But it was visible, as well, and evident to all who met them. It shone in the way they held hands, in a soft goodbye kiss or when they’d reach for one another in times of stress. I am so much the better for witnessing this love. I am a product of it. I will hold it in my heart forever and bask in its afterglow like a sunset well remembered.
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.
The silent stroke that robbed my father of his ability to walk has also forced my parents into separate beds in distant towns. My father’s memory loss means he does not always remember the “why” of it all. I fear for him in this new time and place; it twists my belly into knots. What must it be like to not know exactly where you live and why you are there? I want him to feel grounded not abandoned and to assure that he feels only comfort and peace. We speak about this new reality, over and over. And then again. There is frustration; there are tears. And still, there are moments of tenderness and love.
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.
Posted in A Bridge Between, A Glimpse of the 8th Child, Fathers and Daughters, On Aging Parents
Tagged adult children of aging parents, aging patents, children and care of aging parents, elder care, elder health care, fathers and daughters, quality of life for the elderly, Seniors Facing Loss, the psychology of aging
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.
Posted in A Bridge Between, A Glimpse of the 8th Child, Fathers and Daughters, On Aging Parents, The Story of 'A Bridge Between'
Tagged #aBridgeBetween, adult children of aging parents, Aging, aging parents, caregiving, elder health care, eldercare, Seniors Facing Loss