I am under gobs of stress right now, if you have seen any of my previous posts you probably know that. A summary...my Daddy's mind is being stolen from him by his Alzheimers. It is a mean disease. My precious Granny is in an extraordinary hospice and in the process of dying. (she is 98). I am so sad for my Momma because your Momma is your Momma no matter the age and she is experiencing great loss all around her. We are very close to heading into arbitration with a business we have had great trouble with and my sweet husband is having a really rough time...which equates to our marriage having a tough time.
I am up and then I am down and somedays I am spinning round and round. I have had some gut wrenching, horribly painful, disgustingly ugly freak out moments and I'm sure there are more lurking in here. What I also have had are some of the most comforting God kisses and moments of being held by Him than I have ever felt. Ever. I have been surrounded by encouragement, wisdom, love, hard questions, truth, hugs and sharing. When I get caught up in the 'what if's', as I often do...I am reminding myself of the 'Who is'. When my heart is empty and I am an afraid little girl, I have cried out for God to fill me up and I have been overcome with His presence and glory. I am doing more than surviving, I am living. In some ways I feel my feet have been knocked out from under me and in some ways I am seeing more clearly who I am, how I am to be treated and how deeply I am loved. My mantra....I have to feel the pain to truly feel the joy.
I don't write big details about my Daddy out of respect for he and my Momma. I feel he deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. I have many funny stories, and some not so funny that I journal about and hope to share one day when the time is right. Today, I want to share about part of a day (today) spent with my Daddy. My Momma is sitting with my Granny, and I'm thankful she can be there. I am thankful that I got to take off work and be here. It's been a really good day for him today. Thankful for every good moment.
I have always known my Daddy loves me. I needed tires, gas, money, a big hug and to feel pretty, he's always been my biggest fan. In that way I have been his little princess. In the way of conversations we rarely shared anything on a deep, emotional level. I think that's part the generation he grew up in and in part how he was raised. But....I always knew he loved me the best way he knows how and I know he is the very best earthly Daddy for me. As a result of all of this, during this crappy Alzheimers progression, I feel closer to my Dad than I ever have. I am honored to hold his hand, hear his sweet heart (and sometimes his angry words), listen to him voice in the way he can how scary this disease is, and have him love my children generously and joke with them in childlike innocence. Their are gifts here, even in this blech disease. I also get to know my siblings on a whole new level as we band together to care for the what is and that too is an awesome gift. That was a little background....
This morning, we went to the grocery store. My Dad shuffled through, holding my hand the entire time as he helped me shop and remarked several times how amazing and big this store is. He wanted me to buy peanut butter because he said he's always wanted to try it but never has. (I don't think this is true but I certainly got the peanut butter...just in case). After that, we went to the park to enjoy the glorious weather and feed the ducks. We conversed with a Grandma and her two 4 year old grandchildren....they are preparing for pre k. I was struck by the similarities in growing up and in growing away...young and old....new doors to walk through in those stages and in between. We took a walk around the trail but stopped to read every dedication sign under every tree we could find and we checked out every dog and owner we could. When we were done, we stopped at Starbucks despite Dad saying repeatedly he wasn't thirsty (he was hot and I felt he needed a drink). I got him an iced green tea and after one sip, he said it tasted like Heaven.
We came home, put the groceries away and ate some eggplant parmigiana that I made with my garden eggplant. It was so yummy, but the cool thing is that my Dad thinks all the food I cook his yummy. (As a matter of fact, as I type, Dad is eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (his first, of course) for a snack and he is quite impressed with my cooking abilities once more!) As we ate lunch, I saw the familiar lost look flash across his eyes. He was just telling me how this ('what's this thing he has?' 'demenita'. 'oh yea') thing is so strange because one minute he is clear as day and the next minute everything is different and he doesn't know what is going on. Anyway, he started telling me how lucky he and his wife were because they had really great kids and 31 grandkids! We discussed his navy days and how he was an aircraft carrier on the USS Bennington (CVA 20). He talked about the home he grew up in and his school days. He recalls these items with intricate detail. And then he tells me I look familiar, like my eyes are like his eyes....but he can't quite place me. Then he tells me about his daughter Sarah....and my heart was so touched that I had to share.
His story..."Sarah is a peach. (I laugh because my husband always called me peaches in our early days). Sarah is married to Nate. I used to not think much of him but I sure do like him. He's good to my Sarah and he's smart, intelligent - he's even adding onto their house. You should see the floor he has put in. They have two kids. The boy, John, he's little but he's strong. He plays ball. The girl - Stella, she's just like her Momma and looks like her too. Sarah works at some organization where she helps the less fortunate, she does a whole lot of good to a whole bunch of somebodies. And then Nathan, he kind of does the same thing but he works for that school in Dallas (how my Dad refers to Pathways). My Mother loved Sarah dearly. It's my impression that they (Nate and Sarah) both work their rears off to help others. (Again, he stops to tell me how familiar I look and asks my name. I tell him Sarah-he continues with the conversation). I just have nothing but praise for them. (I stand to gather his dish and he stops to tell me I look a little younger when I'm standing). That Sarah, she'll do anything for you...we went to the grocery store today and she bought a box of groceries 10 feet wide, she's an excellent cook and she took me to feed the ducks and the catfish. You need to get ahold of her work because every time I talk to them they have nothing but praise for her. I'll tell you this...everybody who meets Sarah likes her and everyone who knows her loves her."
Can I tell you what this conversation did for my heart? Great medicine. I have to sign off now, my Dad needs me to help him call his kids....maybe I could get ahold of Sarah?