Tuesday, June 10, 2014

love holds fast

I stepped into his room a year ago. Looking small and frail in his bed, my father opened his eyes as I leaned over and took his hand. Not the hands I once knew, but tiny and white waxy.

"Do you know who I am?" I asked. In the screaming, silent moment, my throat tightened. This time he might not know me.

"You're my daughter," he answered finally.

I spent that day at his bedside and knew for certain it would be
my last with him on earth.
The last day I would print off a name tag at the front entrance to Richland Place.
The last time chuckling as I tried to punch the right code for the elevator,
a procedure to prevent confused patients from leaving their floor.
The last time "going to dinner" meant heading down to the resident dining room to eat cabbage rolls and drink sweet "tay" with Dad. 
And the last time he'd say, "let's get some breakfast" at three in the afternoon.
And we did.
The last time I would sit, thinking of something to say to pull him
into reality and as he dozed off, shift my gaze to golf on TV. 
The last time I'd sympathize about the "bugs on the ceiling" or the prospect
of Dad "having a meeting about buying this hotel."

I can accept death. It's the journey of dying, my father's slow and painful slide to the end that haunts me still. His loss of personality, physical strength, and life quality brought me to tears each time I left him to drive home from Nashville.

Though I wanted to run, I held his frail hand and sat beside him for ten hours on our last day together, June 10, 2013. He slept most of the day and I thought of leaving.
 It wasn't my will that held me there nor even a perceived obligation.
It was love that held me fast.

One of the last things I said to him was, "Dad, do you love Jesus?" And at that moment his eyes focused on me. "I do, I love Him a lot." And my heart was comforted.

I arrived home the next day, exhausted. Bill, Katie and I ate dinner on the porch. All I could say was, "I hope you never have to watch someone as I have watched Dad."

God created us for eternal life with him. I rest in that.
But holding fast to the dying: hard to take.
Then again, it was love that held Christ, too.
Love held Him fast to the cross.

... everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
John 3:15

February 2013


Diana Coon said...

My friend....your words are haunting because they could be my own. I think often of how many of us there are on this dreaded journey. The only peace for our loved ones is the peace of death, but my daily prayer continues to be for the strength to give my mother the kindness and support she so desperately needs. Having gone thru this with both parents, I childishly hope I have somehow fulfilled some karmic requirement that will allow me to see the end of my life without putting my own children through this emotional wringer. Being on the front lines of adulthood I know that's not the case.

Elizabeth Brown said...

The story is beautiful. The journey is hard but we are always with a HIM. Thank you for sharing Barb. I can feel your story through your words.... Miss you!