Where Have All My Words Gone?

Without Dan and the daily stuggle to survive the darkest moment of my life, my desire and ability to take words and weave them into a tapestry has vanished.

I always said that my writing was an expression of my heart. Now, it causes me to wonder about my heart. The lack of words would indicate that my heart is sterile. It has nothing. It holds nothing.

Maybe, that isn’t totally accurate. The void may be the fact that I am living in a numbness that is ongoing. Love is missing.

It was love that filled my heart and made me feel alive. It was the love from Dan that defined my womanhood. It was Dan’s love that held the magic and now, the magic is missing.

There had to be something that was inherent inside of my heart that was the essence of what Dan loved. My head is trying to convince my heart that this is a truth. My heart is bleak.

Lately, with all of the holidays, anniversaries and Valentines Day, all I can think of is that my heart has died within me. The sparkle has gone from my eyes and the smile has vanished from my face. Yes, I can still smile and my eyes are still open yet, there is something missing.

These days are full of freezing fog, dull gray days and the threat of ice and snow. So it is with my heart. My heart has become a block of ice. It no longer beats with the color of red. It is as gray as the winter skys. It is lost to me and I grieve for the person that I once was.

As David cried out in the Psalms, “How long, oh Lord, how long?” This is my daily cry…”How long???”

How long will I feel this sad? How long will I feel so lost? How long will everyday look like the same gray and empty day that comes to greet me?

No one has answers and my heart and head will continue to battle over this bleak reality of emptiness.

I continue to search and I want to plan my life. But, now more than ever, I realize that it is a falsehood to believe that I plan anything regarding my life.

The quest is to find balance between the hope of life and the lack of hope in it.

Is this the sum total of my years? I lived and I knew love. Now, I live and I can only remember what love was. It isn’t much to build a life around, is it?

My Immortal Beloved

This is the title of one of Dan’s favorite movies. Beethoven and his lost love was the focus of this film and Dan identified with the idea of lost love…except, in his mind, he was granted a second chance when we crossed each others paths.

The story is passionate and so sad because Beethoven’s deafness cheated him out of the love of his life. He died never knowing that he lost his love because he couldn’t hear her words whispered into his ears. But, from this continual heartache, music became the language that he spoke and we are blessed by his genius.

“My Immortal Beloved, My All, My Other Self” is the line that resonated within Dan and it now does so in me. As this Valentines Day approaches, the emptiness and the lonliness invades my soul deeper than ever before.

So many days, my thoughts are consumed with being left behind. I don’t know why that my pain focuses on that phrase, “Left Behind”, but that is the source of my woundedness.

My head knows the reason why, but it is my heart that cannot accept this loss. Dan is always with me and there are times, I do wish that I could get passed this emotional gaunlet.

I feel the passing of time and I am stuck in this mire called grief. Yet, the truth of it is, I can’t seem to leave him, even though he has left me.

A few weeks ago, I accepted an invitation to dinner from a “friend of a friend”. I reasoned that I may make a new friend and I expressed to my friend that this was my focus. I cautioned him to be very clear with his friend that friendship was all that interested me.

I met the friend of a friend and we talked, ate a nice dinner and then I left the resturant. As I was driving home, I wondered why I even wasted this poor man’s time. I realized that I wasn’t even interested in finding a new “friend” at this time in my life.

I would have been just as content with an episode of NCIS and a Lean Cusuine dinner. I realized that my heart is not ready to open up for any new kind of relationship. It would take a lightening bolt and an audible Heavenly commandment for me to think about having a new relationship in my life right now…my heart is still bleeding and I don’t know if it will even quit.

I was introduced to this song on Sparkle’s blog. It seemed to capture so much that is hidden deep inside my aching heart at this moment and especially as Valentines Day approaches.

Dan still has all of me. I know that before anything changes, I will have to take my heart back, if I can, before I will be ready to face any kind of new relationship. There is just too much pain.

Seeing Beyond The Veil…Part I

four-generation1There are so many mysteries that we can never know while confined to this existence. I have always been fascinated by mysteries and now I have one that has had my attention for the past few days.

As I have written in past posts, my husband’s mother has the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. I have come to believe that everyone who has memory loss or what was once called “hardening of the arteries” or ” senile dementia” is now given the Alzheimer’s diagnosis….truth is, this condition can only be diagnosed and confirmed by autopsy. I personally believe that it is a pharmaceutical ploy to get people to want their doctors to give them the new drugs in the hope that something can stop the progression of this condition.

I, personally, do not believe that these drugs do anything other than cause terrible side effects for those who suffer from loosing their memory and identity. Both of my “in-laws” have taken the drugs and both have not improved. They also suffered from side effects that compounded their quality of life.

It was last Christmas that my husband and I traveled the 2 hour trip because his mother’s dementia worsened and it seemed a sure bet that she was leaving the hospital and going into a nursing home. On Christmas eve afternoon, Mom’s mind cleared and she knew her surroundings in the present. This avoided the nursing home entry and we all rejoiced to “have her back”. She was released from the hospital that day.

My husband and I were at his parent’s home when she was returned. As she came through the door, she seemed to relapse into the fog of confusion and began to talk about her mother, who has been gone since 1967, and a sister who is in a nursing home in Chicago.

After witnessing this, my husband took out of the house for a walk.  I knew that he went to walk through the tears that had welled up into his eyes. He loved his mother and he just couldn’t bear to see her like this.

This episode didn’t last too long and by the late afternoon, she knew where she was and she was back into the present. This was a Christmas gift that we hoped would last, but it slipped as the days and months progressed.

autumn-mystery1From that time to this, Mom has walked farther down the road of dementia and so has Dad. It is a surreal world that they live in. Many things are a sad comedic situation to watch. Yet, they seem to find contentment that is derived from each other’s presence.

Their journey only deepens into  obscurity. When my husband died, Mom had moments where she could grasp what had happened, but they were only fleeting. When my aunt talked to her after the service, she mentioned me to Mom. She replied, “I don’t believe I know her.” My aunt told her that I was her son’s wife then the conversation turned to something else.  My aunt knew that there was not much more she could say or relate to Mom.

I called a few times after my husband’s passing. It was clear that neither Mom or Dad knew who I was and I tapered off contact. It caused pain upon pain for me and there was nothing that I could do to enrich the quality of their lives.

This past Sunday, Mom fell in the kitchen and broke her leg. The break was severe enough that a total hip replacement was necessary. The effects of anaesthesia on the brains of the demented is devastating. They seems to loose so much ground in the land of reality. So it was with her.

I did not know about her fall, but Tuesday evening, I called my husband’s brother and asked, “What is wrong.” He told me about the situation and that this was definitely the time that Mom would be going into the nursing home. He told me the details and then we said, “Goodbye.”

During the night, I dreamed of my husband. The events in the dream were sketchy, but I definitely knew it was him. It was a dream of him. I was relieved. I needed to dream of him.

When I woke up on Wednesday, I recalled the dream and I felt a need to represent my husband at this moment in the life of his mother. I knew that Dan would be there if he was able and I also knew that he would be there even if he wasn’t able. mom-russell-and-her-new-wig

I called my brother in law and said that I knew the kind of pain that comes when you have to place a parent into a nursing home. I explained how heart wrenching it was on my sister, but she and I made the decision together. We also went to the nursing home and signed the papers together. I told him that this is easier if you don’t have to do it alone. I told him that I would come up and be with him, I would represent his brother and we would walk this event together.  His brother said, with relief in his voice, “Thank you.”

So, on Friday, I drove the 2 hour trip and met my brother in law. He showed me all of the paperwork and told me of Mom’s present condition. He said that she didn’t have any moments of lucidity and that Dad had stayed the night at the hospital because she was so frightened. She is a “sundowner”

That is a term used in the nusring industry to describe those whose dementia worsens at sundown. I have witnessed some to be lucid throughout the day only to slip into the fog of dementia as sunset approached. It is a common effect of the disease.

The doctor said that Mom would be released over this weekend so I wanted to go and see the facility.  While there, I was able to talk to the Director of Nursing. I asked about the training for the nursing assistants regarding a fresh post op hip replacement. I discussed the concern over Mom popping the hip replacement out.  This is common if a patient crosses their legs or if they fail to have proper alignment while they are in bed. I asked if there was enough staff to cover this fresh surgery. I also asked her how this facility was going to deal with the complication that Mom’s dementia presented.

Most dementia patients do not know that they have a broken leg or a condition that prevents them from walking. So, the patient will try to get up and walk to only fall again and exacerbate the original injury. This can lead to a second surgery which, in turn, causes more deterioration of the mental condition.

I asked her how close Mom’s room was to the nursing station and what was their care plan regarding prevention of pressure sores. I finished with the comment that this case would be “a squeaky wheel”. The DON smiled. She understood what I was saying.

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” is an old saying used in the nursing home industry to categorize patients whose families are always present and have no qualms about complaining about the care that their loved one receives. I purposely wanted her to know that this family and their friends would be coming in to see Mom at all hours of the day and night. I believe that my comment was understood as a forewarning from the family to the facility.

I found that the best way to ensure good care is to let the facility know that we would have no qualms about insisting on good care. Even though I cannot be there often, my husband’s daughter will fill this void. She worked in a nursing facility in her town and she has training in dementia. Ensuring Mom’s care  was another purpose of my 10 hour trip.

After the meeting, I left my brother in law and went to the hospital to see Mom.  Her sister was sitting beside her bed calming her fretfulness. I entered her room expecting her to not know me.

“Hi, Mom.”, I said. I told her my name. The first thing she said was, “Dan is here. I have seen him.” I thought nothing of this. Then she said, “And so is your brother.” She then turned to her sister and asked, “Is the funeral over?”

By that comment, I was convinced that she knew who I was and how I was connected. But what caused me to pause and think was her comment that she saw my brother.

The aunt thought nothing of what she said because the aunt was unaware that Mom knew my brother. Her memory of him would have been from when they lived down here and pastored my church.

My brother was my husband’s employer. My brother was the one who taught my husband how to drive a semi and by doing that, my husband always had employment.

Dan spent a lot of time at my brother’s house. They both loved cars and,  when my brother bought a 1970 purple ‘Cuda that had the highest performing engine that Mo Power ever produced, Dan was the first person that he showed his new car to. That was an honor. My husband and my brother were so very much alike.

For Mom to recognize my brother in her room, it meant that he had to look like he did in 1970…

My brother has been dead for close to 20 years When I entered her room, she saw the two men that I loved most. Both are dead. In her dementia, could she be seeing “behind the veil” that is between this world and the next?

In The Living Year III

As I write my husband’s life story, I see more and more the hurt and anger that festered inside of him. This all began from trying to be the “good son”, the obedient son, and the frustration that came with his efforts. These emotions spilled over into his adult years as well. As a son, he was always obedient, with a “twist”.

An example of his being obedient with a twist was when his father wanted him to drive the church bus. This happened when he was in his early 20’s and he drove a “big rig” since he was 19 years old so, naturally, he could drive a bus. However, at this time in his life,  he didn’t attend his father’s church. He had enough of church by the time he left his parent’s home. But when his father asked, he always obeyed. On his only day off of work, he agreed to pick up all of the kids and others who needed transportation to church.

Keeping true to his rebellion, he would pick up the kids and others, let everyone off of the bus at the church, then, he would pick up all his “hippie” buddies. While everyone was at church, he and his “friends” would smoke up the bus with a little “weed”. He did as he was asked and then did as he wanted. Yes, this wasn’t very wise, but it was so like him and his way of being obedient with a “twist”.

Over the years and after two divorces, I think his parents “gave up” on him. They gave their approval to the second son and because of the developmentally delayed status of the adopted son, they reserved most of their concern and attention for  him. They knew that my husband could take care of himself. By his early 30’s, my husband had a true love/hate relationship with his parents. This lasted for the majority of his life. I think that it was the same for his parents.

I should clarify. Over the years, time was given to my husband. It was not done from a willingness or a parental concern, but it was done in the midst of crisis or drama. My husband’s choices in his early life always brought these elements with him. He received attention.

Much like when a child needs attention and they are unable to get it positively, they will act out and receive it negatively…that seems to be the operating principle over my husband’s youth and young adult years…

As the effects of life wore on my husband and his restlessness abated, his need for peace and contentment finally won out over his need for rebellion.

Over the years of our marriage, my husband and I “worked” on his “Father Hunger”. We bought books, tapes and listened to sermons that addressed the unending needs of an adult child when they lack a relationship with their father. My husband knew that his father was repeating in him what his grandfather sowed into his father…not much time or thought.

In 2003, my husband’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia. She knew that something was wrong and when they finally told her, she began to become frightened of her future. My husband tried his best to reassure her that he would always remind her of whatever she forgot. He could remember things that happened when he was 2 and 3 years old and his parents were always amazed at his accuracy.

In 2005, a CT scan of his father’s brain showed atrophy and he too began to not relate to the present. He seemed to go into a trance and do whatever my husband’s mother bid him do. He seemed to cease being an individual.

On several occasions in those early days, before my husband’s cancer was diagnosed, we told his parents that, since we lived close by that we would help in any way with whatever they needed. On many occasions my husband would go over and “check” on them.

He tried to have a conversation with his dad about things that were on his mind, but all he received was silence. 

Many times, after the fact, we would find out that they called on someone else to do what my husband said that he would do for them.  I could see the hurt in my husband’s face  with each one of these occurrences. His heart was bruised again with each incident…..He finally gave up on the hope that he could resolve his issues with his parents. He had to let them go…

In the months prior to his passing, he gave up on calling them. They didn’t remember that he was sick or they remembered that his brother had prostate cancer, but didn’t remember that he was sick. He felt worse after trying to talk to them and, afterwards, it drained him emotionally so he stopped calling. For him, It was too painful to bear their dementia and his cancer.

The final week of my husband’s life, I spoke to my husband’s brother about whether he should make the effort to bring my husband’s parents down to our home. Traveling was a  difficult task and both my brother in law and I knew that they would not remember being here or seeing their son.

It seemed that my brother in law and I came to the same conclusion at the same time because as I called him, he was about to call me. I said that it didn’t matter if they remembered seeing my husband or not. If it were one of our children, we would want to see our child, so it must be with my husband’s parents.

By this time, my husband was unable to communicate with us. His level of consciousness was anyone’s guess at this point. When my husband’s brother said that they were coming, the children and I cleared space for chairs to be by my husband’s bedside…

I was not feeling well that day. I was having a major physical reaction to knowing that my husband was hours away from dying. The hospice nurse had instructed me to take my anti anxiety medication and lay down. I was sleeping when they arrived. The children assisted them.

I woke up after they had been here for a couple of hours. I knew that they would not stay much longer than that. As I lay on the couch between being fully awake and still drowsy, I heard something amazing.

My husband’s mother was talking to him in that voice that every child knows. It is the one where you are sick and your mother’s voice is as soothing as any medication or medical remedy. My husband couldn’t see his mother because she was standing by the window and he was facing away from it. The next moment I heard a cry come out from my husband.

With every ounce of energy he had left, his voice rang out, “Mom!!!”. No one will know just how difficult it was for him to say that word! It was his desperate attempt to reach her and It took every ounce of life left in him. All of us knew that she could never appreciate that is was one of his lasts words heard on this earth.

In many ways, it sums up their relationship. He was crying out for his parents and they never truly heard him. They were always lost in a fog when it came to their first son…

Yes, my husband’s parents are still living, but they are not here. They are in a place of confusion, a twilight of shadows, that robbed my husband of an opportunity to express his love for them and they for him. We think that we have years and years to tell our parents the hidden things, the wonderful treasure of memories that we have of them and us.

The reality for my husband was that, even when he tried to overcome the obstacles that were in their relationships, they could never listen and hear him. That moment of reconciliation never happened for him.  Dementia took his parents before death took him.

It is during the act of living that we take the opportunity to tell those we love how we feel. It is in the memories that we make that we feel their love and acceptance. It is too late for my husband and for me to express ourselves to our parents.

Now is always the best time to tell those you love how important they are to you……Now is always the best time….

In The Living Years II

I mentioned in Part I that when I first heard this song, I was reminded of my relationship with my father. I didn’t realize, until later in life, my father was the one that was imprinted on my heart and mind. He was the one I measured all men by and if they didn’t measure up, I either wanted them or I rejected them. To this day, I am not inclined to respect a man with “soft hands”.

Of course, he was the one who was the most distanced from me as a child. After the birth of my youngest sister, he ran from the idea that he had a special needs child. The doctor told him that he was the reason for the extra chromosome and he was a perfectionist in all his ways.

Naturally, he didn’t want to be reminded that he did not produce a perfect child.

In today’s understanding of Down’s Syndrome, I don’t know if that “fact” still holds up to the light of day, but it didn’t matter then. He went from playing and giving attention to me to being out of sight. He would go to work before I woke up and he didn’t come home until after I went to bed. He was there on weekends, but he was always busy or fishing.

I learned to fish from an early age. He bought me my first fishing pole at the age of 8 years old and I caught a 5 lb small mouth bass on 2 lb test line…I proved my worth. If I wanted time with my dad, it was done by fishing with him. There was always pressure on me because if I failed to catch fish, I wasn’t allowed to go the next time.

The other part of my life with my father was being his “gofer”. The gofer was the person that ran after whatever part or tool that was needed by whatever engine or piece of machinery that he was working on at the time.

I learned the names of the tools in the tool box. I learned the basics of the combustible engine and, even though I don’t put my hands on things, I am not half bad about diagnosing what is wrong with an engine by listening to it.

That is what it took to spend time with the first man that I ever loved. I learned to step into his world and he never crossed over into mine.

My father and I were very much alike, however I learned in my teenage years that I didn’t respect his volatility and his emotional decision making. That seemed to bring intense arguments that resulted in a slap across my face. Usually, that was where he would strike because, by the time I was 16 years old, I was taller than my father.

The last time he slapped me, I remember hearing him walk down the hallway and I knew that I was going to get one in the mouth. After he found me, he slapped me for talking back to him. I remember looking deep into his blue eyes and I told him, “You will be sorry for that.” I turned and went into my bedroom and locked the door.

If he wanted to, I knew that he could burst through the door and, if he did, he would deliver a sound beating. Maybe he knew that the beating would have only made me more resolved. Like I said, we were alike in many ways and a beating would have only solidified my stubborness and, by that, set the stage for another argument. I had ideas of my own and I would not let them go until someone proved them wrong.

To my surprise, (I am sure my mother intervened) my father finally read the brochure that I brought home. I wanted to go to a music camp at Indiana University. It was an honor to be of a caliber of voice to be able to attend this camp over the summer months and I wanted to learn more about voice and have the experience of singing with some of the best in the state. ( IU was known nationally for its School of Music). My father was opposed because he believed that nothing good could come out of Bloomington. He believed that it was “Sin City” and no daughter of his was going into “Sodom and Gomorrah”.

In the middle of the night, I woke up and went to the bathroom. I saw my father reading the brochure that he refused to open. For the first time, I saw him in the process of reversing himself and really thinking about making a decision. It was a milestone. By morning, he said that I could attend. By this simple action, I regained a little of the respect that I lost for him.

My relationship with my father was changing from that point forward. I wish I could say that it was for the better, but it wasn’t. I became the voice of reason in his fits of anger and he resented the fact that one of his children would say what they thought. On most occasions, my thoughts ran counter to his. There was always the threat that I may have a better idea. I was not welcomed into his life.

Sadly, he could never see that independent thinking was the lesson that he taught all of us. As children, my siblings and I were never allowed to say the word, “Can’t”. We always had to accomplish the task even if the usual way didn’t work. We were required to find a way that would work. Today, I think it is a college couse called “Critical Thinking”. My father was the professor and we all learned this lesson, not with grades, but rather with approval. 

He never realized that his standard pushed all of us to achieve regardless of education or lack of it. He never allowed anything to stand in his way and he was not going to allow his children to get by with “standing still” in the face of a problem. He gave a great gift by insisting on this kind of thinking. Yet, when it came to him, he lost sight of this lesson that he taught so well. This kind of thinking became the corner stone of all his children’s success. Funny, he never saw us as successful. Maybe, it was because all he saw in us was himself.

I wish I could say that my father and I had a moment in life where we could have said all of the things that needed said. But, like in the song, his pride and mine kept us from saying those wonderful things that a father says to a daughter and a daughter says to a father. Even at his death, I wondered if he loved me.

I have no memory of being “Daddy’s little girl”. I never was that to him. I was his “gofer”… the fisherman that could out do him if he took me along. I eventually ran his business after the death of my brother and my “style” was successful, but he didn’t agree with it.

To know my father’s approval was something that I seldom achieved.

So, when I hear this song, I understand the verses so well. And when I hear other songs that sing of a Father’s love and protection, I don’t have an earthly pattern to refer to. I wanted one. I needed to know what it was like to dance in my father’s hand without critism or watch his face smile at my performance. I never knew if my father would come to my rescue because his kind of love was so conditional.

In response to this uncertainty, I found It very difficult to trust a loving Father God, yet somehow, I do.

Maybe I do because I watched my husband with his children. It was wonderful to see how he would be the father that I wished for. I watched as he quietly worked behind the scenes to do for them, at a great personal expense, the important things that showed them that he would always be there for them.

I saw his love for them as he watched them play and how he would take up for them when anyone was unfair or when they were hurt by others. He was always in their corner. He was a good dad in spite of how many things that their “mothers” told them about him. He was their protector.

His heartache came from the lack of a “Father-Son” relationship with his own dad. He and I knew the pain of having a father, but even when they were home, they were not there. I think that children of divorce know a terrible pain, but it is no less of a pain than having a father in the household, being able to see them in front of your eyes and realize that they are not present for you.

It is all pain. In the next part, I will write more of my husbands hunger for his father and mother and his desire to tell them how much he loved them while all of them were still in “The Living Years”.

In The Living Years…Part I

I heard this song on the “Oldies” radio station as I was driving home from my last client. It took me back to the time when I first heard it.

I remember how much I thought that it captured the situation between my self and my own father. He and I were just too much alike in many respects. I had the advantage because there was enough of my mother in me that I didn’t do as he did, but I did inherit his ability to take risks.

Now, when I hear the song, I realize that my perspective has changed from when I first heard it. I am the parent in the song. The song caused me to think of my husband’s and my relationships with each one of the children. Each of us had “issues” that would cause us guilt and it was laid at our feet. Over time and hind sight, we knew that each child had disappointments in us as parents, both collectively and individually. There was little “co parenting” done with each child.

With my husband’s children, issues were always present. He was the non custodial parent and his desires or influence were reduced to a minimum.

The song brought to mind my husband’s relationship with his youngest daughter. She was lost to him since 2002. The final contact between them occured in the last seven months of his life. In December 2007, She wrote and sent pictures of her 3 daughters.  She asked that they restore their relationship.

At first, my husband was happy to hear from her and he immediately called his daughter. When he got off of the phone, his joy had turned to a painful realization.

He said that it was like “pulling teeth” to get a conversation out of her. I said that he needed to take into consideration the “shock” factor of hearing her dad on the line. I suggested that  the shock may have kept her from talking as much. But, I could see in my husband’s face all of the painful use and misuse that he suffered at the hands of the child’s mother and by her own..

After much deliberation, he wrote her a letter thanking her for the pictures of her children and  told her how glad he was to hear that her life had turned for the better. He told her that he loved her, but he had nothing left to offer her. He told her that the disease was taking away the time that it takes to restore a relationship and he wanted her to remember the good times more than the bad ones.

He never heard from her again.

When he died, I had my husband’s son call the number that my husband used to talk to the daughter. It was not in service. I told the son that I had the phone number to his half sister’s maternal grandmother and he may be able to reach his sister through her. He called and there was no answer. He didn’t leave a message. This kind of news is just too much to leave a message.

Later on in the day that my husband died, after everyone was gone, I received a call from the grandmother. I really didn’t want to talk to her, but it was too late, I had answered the call.

Her first words were that she had a “number” now. This comment set my suspensions on alert. Old habits never leave you and this was always a precursor to future troubles.

Then, the grandmother began telling me how she had lost her husband this past January. I listened as she told me all of the details of the cancer that took his life. As I listened, I tried my best to empathize. I was comforting her….she didn’t ask anything about my husband. She just talked about her loss.

She asked if I wanted the phone number of the ex wife. I declined that offer. I was in no frame of mind to deal with the person that had caused so much damage to my husband.

Personally, I believed and still do, that my husband’s cancer began with a decrease in his immune system and the decline was directly linked to the stress that he lived while going through the divorce and custody battles with this woman. I definitely did not want to talk to her at that moment in my life.

I told her that I would rather have her call and tell the daughter about her father. I explained that I didn’t want it said that no one thought to call and tell her about his death and I gave the grandmother the details of the Memorial Service.

The next thing that the grandmother told me was all about this daughter’s health problems and how stress effects her adversely. I replied that I could understand how this kind of thing could be stressful and worsen her condition. but I repeated the details of the Memorial Service. I said that I wanted his daughter to be aware of the arrangements. I then, as quickly as possible, ended the conversation…it was just one of the many nightmares of that day.

As the words and melody of the song rang in my ears, I thought about the time that was available for this daughter to say the things that she needed to tell her father and the things he needed to hear during his living years. I also thought about the words she lost by not making efforts during the time he survived.

His desire to live through all of the possible manipulations and painfulness that was associated with this child was gone. As hard as it was for him to let go of this child, the first time, and wait for her to come to him, he again chose to let her go because the time for living was too short. As much as he loved this child, he could not deal with the “maddness” that swirled around her. He had said all that he wanted to say to her in his letter.

As the song points out, each generation seems to loose sight of the living years and the opportunities that are afforded to speak heart to heart. Each child holds their parents responsible for their pain and each generation fails to learn the song’s lesson…so it stretches out in front of my generation now.

If it were possible, every parent would accept that the generations don’t see eye to eye, but we want so much more than that, don’t we? We want to rewind our lives and relive those times when we made the wrong choices. We would give anything to be able to undo the things that hurt us or our children, but that isn’t possible.

Now, we live with our regrets. There will be times that each one will have to reconcile themselves with the words that failed to find a voice. Regret is a hard thing with which to live, but it has been done by generations before us and it will be repeated by the generations past us.

No parent gets it right all the time. All we have are our opporunities to right the situation in the “Living Years”….

“Say it loud, say it clear, you can listen as well as you hear… Its too late when we die to admit we don’t see eye to eye….. So we open up a quarrel between the present and the past. We sacrifice the future. It is the bitterness that lasts….So don’t yield to the fortunes, you sometimes can see his fate. It may have a new perspecive on a different day…and if you don’t give up and don’t give in and you may just be “OK”…Say it loud, say it clear, you can listen as well as you hear…..Don’t give up, don’t  give in, don’t wait until it is too late….”

“Thank You, Lord For Another Beautiful Morning”

I found this post this morning. It was dated in June and I don’t know why I failed to post it. I decided to post it now. It is a reflection of the man, the mature and completed man, that came out from all of the troubled youth and adult life that he led. It shows how the terminally ill come to value the next morning. He knew that he lived on borrowed time for the last 2 1/2 years…and he was so grateful for each day.

My husband is a morning person and I am not. He has always risen early for work, sometimes at 3 AM, so to take whatever load to its destination and to get back home in the early afternoon. He says that he feels his best when he first wakes up. How I envy that quality.

I am a “second shift” kind of person. I naturally wake around 8 AM, that is if I went to sleep before midnight. I like to take a hour or two to fully wake up and drink my several cups of coffee. I don’t like answering questions or making decisions until I feel that I am fully awake. By 10 AM, I am usually ready to start doing things around the house and get my day started. That is my natural biorhythm.

When I hear my husband up and about, I make myself get up and check on him. I want to know if he is up because he wants to be or if he is up because there is something that isn’t quite right. After I determine that he is OK, sometimes, I lay back down. It is then when I hear his morning “talk” with the Lord.

Usually, the first things he says out loud is, “Good Morning, Lord. Thank you for another beautiful morning. Thank you for letting me stay for another day. I am yours, you know and I am waiting to see Your Hand to save my life, but if it isn’t to be, it is OK….”

There is more, but I feel that I am eavesdropping on a very private conversation and I try not to listen. Sometimes, I go back to sleep or then the other times, I hear his prayer for his children, grandchildren, parents, and for me.

The tears roll down my face as I think back to the days when I didn’t have a husband who prayed for me. My first husband was at best an agnostic and at worst, an atheist. I had prayed many years for this man to come to know that there was a kind and loving God who knew his name.

When the day came that my first husband wanted to leave me after 17 years, I finally let him go. One of the main reasons was that I knew that he would never share my faith or my love for God.

Three years later, my present husband came into my life. As a son of a minister, there was no doubt as to his faith. He didn’t always practice what he had learned at his grandmother’s knee (she also was a minister and a female Evangelist). He had his rebelliousness, but there was no doubt that he knew that there was a God.

As I hear his prayer, I am so grateful for a husband who prays for me. Many times, we have dropped everything to hold each other and pray for the situation that we were in at the time. Many times we have laid in bed and talked about God and about His Word. We have laid in bed and sang the old old hymns blending our voices into one voice lifting the melody heavenward.

We sang together when we were teenagers. The tember of our voices complimented each other beautifully and it was the harmony that was felt between us that made our voices as one. That has been the nature of our relationship. Harmony.

This morning, I join him in his prayer of Thanksgiving for another day, another beautiful morning with the sounds of summer as our personal symphony. I am so grateful that he is still here with me. I know that whatever this day brings, it has been ordained by Heaven and in that knowledge, there is peace.

So, I echo, “Thank You, Father, for another beautiful Morning, for this day and for all that You have ordained in our life. Thank You for all that surrounds us and is for us. May we always be grateful for all that this day brings. For now and always, let us give thanks….”

In light of what I am about to write regarding his early teen years and his young adult life, I wanted there to be a comparison of the “finished product”, of the man that he became before he died. Like many who have many talents, his path in this life was a difficult one. But, in the end, he did find peace, joy and love…and so did I.

Finding this draft of a post again brought tears over the loss of a man who prayed for me daily. I miss sharing our faith and praying for each other. I have to believe that he still prays for me. Now, the prayers that he offers for me, his children, grandchildren and all those he loves are in heavenly places….and, yes, I am still grateful for his life and for our life together and I do give “Thanks” for having him for the years that I did.

Longer Than….I AM IN Love With YOU

When did I fall in love with my husband.? I can’t really say when because  I have always been in love with him. From the first time we were sledding down Madden Hill and the cold and wind was whistling through my coat to the first “official” date (He asked my father’s permission to take me for a coke after church) when he sung Mr. Bo Jangles to me, I was in love with this handsome 19 year old boy from Chicago.

I saw him every day after school because he worked for my father. (It wasn’t easy to get a date when every guy wondered if dating me would end up meaning their job if they got out of line). He would make a “mistake” on his time card so that I would have to walk down to the Mill and ask him what time he left work on Tuesday or something like that. I wasn’t aware that he had already pre arranged everything with my sister. She was in on all of his “mistakes”. I remember her telling me that she wouldn’t mind if he would be her brother in law. *smile* It only took 20 something years for that to come true.

I loved everything about him. I loved his voice. I loved his mannerisms. I loved that we sang and harmonized so well together. I loved that he was as comfortable in a  suit as he was in jeans and a tee shirt. I loved the whole package.

I knew that he had feelings for me. I could see it in his eyes and that old song that said “….its in his kiss…” I was hoping that he felt the same thing as I did, but I wasn’t about to tell him. My mother was old fashioned and she said to never tell a boy how you felt. You let him tell you. So, I did but he never said those words. Someone told him that he wasn’t “good enough” for me and he didn’t call anymore. …..I was devastated.

It was the memory of him that I took with me into my first marriage. I told my first husband on our first date that I loved another man and that I didn’t know if I could ever love him. Why he didn’t run, I don’t know. 

Soon after I began dating my ex husband, I learned that the love of my life was marrying some one else. Within 30 days of our last date, he was engaged to another. I  was devastated and I thought that I had nothing better to do than get married to someone who acted like they loved me. I knew that I didn’t feel the same, but that didn’t matter. There was a song out that said that if you can’t be with the one that you loved, then love the one you are with and foolishly, I did.

 Within a year of meeting my ex husband, I was married. The next month after getting married, I began nurses training and 18  months later at the age of 21, I became a mother. Life took off.  I was married, a mother and working part time as a staff nurse….I had replicated the life that was expected of me and I was totally miserable. The only bright spot in my life was my son. My beautiful son was the only good that came out of  18 years of my first marriage.

Eighteen years is a long time to be unhappy and without hope. Early on, the marriage turned loveless and at times violent. When things would become violent and I had to recover from being beaten, I would see the face and hear, “Mr. Bo Jangles” as he once sang it to me.  I found safety in those memories but I never thought that the day would come when I would be with him. He with me and I with him.

I loved him completely and I tried to stop loving him so that I could be true to the one that I was with. As long as I was hurting physically and emotionally, he was never far from my heart, my mind or my thoughts.

Then, came the day when he walked in the front door where I worked. I didn’t recognize this man who had a full beard, but the moment that he spoke, I knew it was him and my head began to whirl. He was divorced for the second time. He was looking for my brother. My brother was killed 9 months before but he wasn’t aware. When I told him about my mother, he was so sad to hearof her passing. He always admired my mother and thought that she was a special woman. He had known her from church when his dad pastored my home church (It is the one in which  we are  renewing our vows)

We left there to get a cup of coffee and to catch up on how life was over the years. I didn’t hear from him for months after that. I thought that he was lost to me again, then one evening  months later, there was a voice message and he was coming to town….

For the losses that I suffered then ( My brother was killed,  nine months later my mother died from cancer, 6 weeks after my mother’s funeral, I was served with divorce papers, three months after that, my grandmother, my mother’s mother died ) he was a comfort. He has been a comfort to me from that time to this….He is still the safe place to where I run for safety.

We are two souls that have melted into one and it began 38 years and it is greater today than in the past. Cancer and death will not be able to break the love that began in the “forest primeval…. I’ve been in love with you…..As Dan Fogelberg sing, ” I been in love with you…..I am in love with you……”

Shadows of a Relationship

I seem to be observing how relationships bear the strain of this terminal state.  I watch as my husband’s children (blood and step) seem to be dealing with the final stages of this disease.

The oldest daughter just can’t seem to get enough of her father. She emails daily and she desires to hear her father’s voice. She is experiencing the grief and loss and she suffers so much from the thoughts of loosing her father to this cancer.

His oldest son also suffers, but he is avoiding his father. He puts his 1 1/2 year old daughter on the phone and lets her babble away. He is having a hard time talking to his dad about anything, even the weather. That is understandable. He isn’t avoiding his father because there is a problem between them, he is avoiding so that he isn’t reminded of how sick his father is.

The youngest daughter has been absent from my husband life until a week before Christmas. She wrote last in the fall of 2005, but he didn’t receive the letter until February of 2006. My husband replied to that letter and he informed her that he had cancer. Almost two years later, we receive a letter with picture of three little girls, my husband’s granddaughters. He has never seen these children. He was never informed of their coming. He was not informed of his daughter’s marriage until almost a year after the event.

The first letter was full of venom and hate coupled with self pity and revenge for things that my husband was not involved in. This last letter was totally different. It was a “perfect” picture with statements that were a little on the questionable side of things. In this letter, she wanted to let the past go and mend their relationship.

Even though this letter answered a prayer of his, he was reluctant to enter back into any kind of relationship with this daughter. He was afraid of the  pain that he knew he might have to bear should he allow her back into his daily life.

In her letter, a phone number and address was given. The first information in four years as to her wherabouts. My husband called his daughter to tell her that he had received her letter and just to talk to her. He said that it was like pulling teeth to get her to say anything to him. She didn’t sound excited or happy to hear his voice.

When he thought more about contacting his daughter, he became apprehensive. He remembered all of the painful things that were done to him. He knew that she was influenced by her mother.(who is mentally ill) but there was one incident that he just could not get past.

 His daughter and her boyfriend tried to run my husband and I over with a pick up truck while we were riding the motorcycle. My husband said that he still sees her mocking face in the window of the truck as they drove off.

He is afraid. Afraid that he doesn’t have the emotional stamina to deal with her unpredictible behavior. He is afraid his heart will be broken. He doesn’t want to love his granddaughers only to have to watch his daughter take them away when she becomes upset with something said of done. He is afraid that there will be harassment like we endured in the past…too many painful and difficult memories. He is afraid that his heart will be hurt more and he doesn’t have capacity for any more pain.

He knows that he still love this child, but he doesn’t trust this child. He doesn’t trust her to not bring chaos to our lives. He doesn’t trust her motivations or her unspoken agendas.

He speculated that her motivation for writing now was because she wanted to be included in any inheritance. I smiled a sick smile at the thought of an inheritance. We lost everything years ago. But, that would not be out of character for her to try to come back to the fold thinking that there may be something material to gain….

He doesn’t want to risk loosing the relationships he has with his other children. The pains of the past have alienated her from her half brother and sister and her stepbrother and sister in law…too much to risk to have everything blow up in his face.

He wrestled with the dilemma and debated with himself as to what to do. With a heavy heart, he wrote her a letter and told her that he was happy to hear that her life has settled down and that she is a mother. The little girls are lovely. He said that he loves her and always will, but he has nothing to offer her and he doesn’t have much time left on this earth. He wrote that he feels that it is safer for everyone to love her from a distance. He asked her to try and remember all of the good times that were had when she was younger. He wrote that he would rather her remember him as he looked when they last saw each other in the courtroom two and half years ago than how he looks now.

When he was finished writing the letter, he handed it to me and asked what I thought. I thought to myself how all of the current day “experts” on family and divorce would disagree with what he was doing. I thought how he was playing into the lies that her mother said about him. Things like he never loved her and that she was just a burden because of the support money. It would give credance to all of the lies her mother has always told her. But all of that doesn’t matter now. Time is running out. She waited too long to mend something that was so broken. He has nothing more to give.

In life, there are seasons and there are windows of time. If they pass, they are never regained. This window is closed. This life is ending. The season is mid winter and there is no promise of spring…I  feel pity for the child because so much was given and sacrificed to be able to stay in her life. With the sacrifice, was wounds and the wounds are too deep to mend. Not now, not in mid winter.

Dan Fogelberg’s song rings in my ears, so I decided to post it here. My husband and the artist share many things including their first names, so when the last scene of the video appears, it is hard for me…The song speaks to the heart of the matter. We will always see her as the face of a child.