|Mom and Dad on their wedding day, 1953|
Thank you, all my sweet reader's for your kind messages while I took my little break.
It means so much.
The truth is, I have been dealing with a little grief.
I wrote this one night recently when I couldn't sleep:
Grief is like a thief, sneaking up on you when you least expect it, robbing you of your peace of mind. And just like a thief, it hides behind the darkness, in the quiet hours of the night.
You must confront it and you struggle and try to push it away. But there it is and you give in and hand over your heart to this thief in the night. They say that time will heal, but while you wait, the sleepless nights take your soul and leave you wandering alone in that empty space of yearning.
Oh, for one more day, one more touch, one more time to gaze upon the loving face, to hear the sound of a beloved voice, to walk the weary road together, just once more! A fool’s dream, wake up! Wake up! You must let go, and leave the past behind to weave sweet memories around your heart to ease the lonesome pain.
Be on your way you heartless thief and leave me to my slumber. To mingle sweet and loving thoughts with dreams of peaceful memories.
|My Beautiful Mother - 1955|
I started this blog just one month after my Dear Mother's death. I missed her so much; our little chats, her warm and cozy kitchen where I was welcome any time, the sharing of our day to day lives, knowing she was there if I ever needed her.
And now the 2nd anniversary of her passing is coming up.
I made it through the holidays.
But now my Father's birthday is near.
It's been only 6 months now since he passed.
|Dad's Graduation and as a freckled face boy|
I thought I was doing well and getting over my grief. But just like a thief in the night, it can come upon you suddenly when you least expect it.
Losing them both, so close together has been hard.
Grief is something people don't like to talk about. It makes them uncomfortable and you are expected to 'move on'.
And so you keep it close to your heart, afraid of showing your feelings, because it makes others uncomfortable. They don't know what to say, and they are surprised when after time, you are
not 'over it'.
And yes, you do go on and get over the pain, but once in a while it comes back to hit you and you need time to deal with it.
My Father died after a long journey into Alzheimer's. It wasn't a sudden passing, but a long and sad one, watching as he gradually lost all memory of his life, of his loved ones.
My Mother died in sorrow, with the husband she had loved for over 58 years, unable to remember who she was.
But one month before he died, on Memorial Day, my Dear Husband and I went to visit him. And he gifted us with one last day of lucidity. Although he could no longer speak, it was clear that he recognized us and was delighted in our presence. He smiled and even laughed. He held our hands tightly and nodded his head when we spoke to him. We were so amazed, that we stayed for hours, not willing to give up this precious time with him. It was truly a special gift.
We had no idea that this would be his last gift to us, and shortly before that visit, I had written an article about him for The News Tribune.
Here is that article, in honor of my Father's birthday.
And thank you, Dear Reader's for staying with me and for all of your support and encouragement over these last two years.
I couldn't have done it without you.
Tradition Lives On, In Memory of Those Long Forgotten
The road to my destination only descends. I’ve just come to realize this, like some magical revelation, even though I’ve traveled this road many times before. I wind my way through forests and farmland, always downhill, until I reach the slender river valley along the bottom. The river that I follow is the same one I hear on quiet, still nights from my mountain home and we flow in the same direction. I am on my way to visit someone I love dearly, but who doesn’t know me. In many ways my long, slow descent to this little valley symbolizes my loved one’s journey to this same destination.
I’ve traveled this road many times over the long years between then and now. Those were happy journeys; Sunday drives with family, antiquing forays with a Mother now gone, and Fourth of July and Memorial Day celebrations at the very place I journey to now. These scenes flash before my eyes as I wind my way along past fields and farms and familiar landmarks, unchanged by the passing of time.
My heart expands and grows heavy as these long ago memories fill my mind, fill my eyes with the mists of time and blur the road in front of me. I force myself to take a deep breath and think of happier times; the picnics, the laughter, the joyful noise of family excursions.
I am almost there, with one last memory of how every Memorial Day since I was a child, he would place a wreath on the grave of a long forgotten soldier. As a child I would help him find that special soldier’s resting place. He kept that tradition all of his life, a tribute to those brave fallen soldiers.
I arrive at the familiar entrance; the stately old trees standing guard over the manicured grounds. I read the sign, ‘Washington State Soldier’s Home.’ I think with a stabbing pain in my heart of how we would tease about sending him here when he became an old man, when we came for holiday celebrations, back when we were all shining and young.
I see him as he was then, bright blue eyes, strong and sure. A lover of life, patient and kind, the hardest worker I ever knew. Here was a man elected President of his local Steelworker’s Union, who served on his hometown Finance Committee. The only person I knew who could solve algebraic equations in his head. He was a man who proudly served his country back when the Army and Air Force was one branch, who was married to one woman for 58 years and who raised his family of 5 daughters, never once making them feel that he ever regretted not having a boy. This was a man who built his own home. Twice. The last one just a stone’s throw from my own.
And here I am. I walk through the familiar doors. I seek him out in the labyrinth of corridors and bright sunny rooms. I kiss his cheek, pale and soft as a baby’s. He doesn’t open his eyes. He doesn’t know me. He is my Father and he has Alzheimer’s.
The same Father who proudly looked on as I recited the poem, ‘ In Flanders Fields’ in the center of my hometown during that long ago Memorial Day, when I was in the 5th grade. I was shy and soft spoken, but he helped me memorize the lines, project my voice, and bolstered my confidence by telling me he would be right there to cheer me on.
It was a gradual journey, this long, slow descent. Like my journey here. Past the familiar landmarks of the mind, the fertile fields of memory, down the long, slow road to forgetfulness. At first the scenery was sometimes familiar, but gradually he became lost in the fog. He will never take the road back.
But I must make the long ascent back home, for now I am the memory keeper, the witness, the story teller. Now it is I who hold the keys to the past. Now it is up to me to uphold the proud tradition of placing the wreath on that long forgotten soldier’s grave.
Happy Birthday, Dad.
I love you both, and will always miss you.