Sometimes in life, especially when you are going through trials, messages seem to find you. Messages from the universe, messages from God. I am in such a space.
My beloved, precious father-in-law is in the last stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. The family came to the difficult and emotional agreement that the time had come to place him in the care of a nursing home last October. Mom had been caring for him for two years or more in his declining state. It had reached the point where we were extremely concerned for both of their well beings. Not because of any failing on anyone’s part, by any means, but the disease had progressed so that he didn’t know his surroundings or her, and she could not physically care for his safety as he tried to attend to what used to be his normal, daily tasks around their home; their workshed and its many tools and their large, hilly, tree-laden property. He was confused and profoundly disabled in many areas of life. The time had come and it took much coaxing to help Mom come to terms with that.
His early days in the nursing home were emotional for all concerned. Confused and frantic, he didn’t want to be there, constantly sought escape, and he cried whenever any of us visited him and he wanted us to take him home.
“Please don’t leave us!” he exclaimed to Mike and I, on our first visit in the first couple of weeks, when we had to take our leave. It was just heart wrending. And wrenching. And an emotionally volatile experience for all of us who visited him in those early days. And in the months that followed. Several family members sat through many of these heartbreaking experiences with him as he became familiar with his new surroundings where he knew no one, couldn’t communicate with his language impairments, and didn’t know what was happening to him.
He did settle in though, eventually, which is good, so good, and became more acclimated to his unfamiliar surroundings. But as he acclimated, he became more…subdued. More vacant. Less present and more in a holding pattern. His recognition of beloved family members diminished and his already diminished language became more unintelligible.
I think about him every single day. Whether I am working, or shopping for groceries after work, or during a movie in the evening, or kissing my husband good night as I crawl into bed, I think about him…and Mom who misses him more than I do. I know her ache and longing for him is acute. I dream of them and cry for them often.
I don’t share these thoughts often though. Mike is a dear and is sad at his father’s declining state, but I put more words to it and I know it doesn’t serve him to share this every single day. Dad, and Mom are on my heart and mind in whatever I do every day. He is here…but not. But is. He is still a life energy and among us, though gone in personality and vibrance. Mom has moved from their comfortable home to a new space that is all her own, but I know he is there in whispers because her heart still beats in time with his.
This waiting time. This…”what is this time and what is it’s purpose?” time.
I should share more of my daily thoughts with my sister’s-in-law and my mother-in-law. I know that tonight as I tried to express month’s of pent up feelings with my husband. I know he processes differently than me so I haven’t “burdened” him with what I think of daily.
Dad is with me daily. He was such a vibrant, moral, cheerful, bear-hugging force in our lives. He loved us all so much, with every fiber of his being. If you were in his presence, you knew love with no doubt. Like all human beings, he grew through the stages of his life, and if anything was missing in his militaristic bearing in his younger years, he made up for it in later life. My three sons, now in their 30’s, only knew the bear-hugging, cheerful, loving Pawpaw he came to be in later life. That’s the only man they know, except the one, now depleted and gone from us due to a dread disease, not of his choosing, but of genetics.
He is precious to us still and we count time with him as he goes through this last time in his life. What it means, or why it lingers, we do not know. Many…most…in my family believe deeply in a sovereign God who holds all in His loving hands. There is a reason. There is love and purpose abounding in this final time when Dad, the once purposeful and magnetic force he was in his family’s life, to now be silenced and gently folding a long, vibrant life to its unknown close.
A friend posted this link her on Facebook wall tonight. I was moved to tears. To heavy tears. And when I didn’t feel I could adequately express my profound gratitude for such guidance, to my husband, I came here. Sometimes my feelings are deeper than my ability to put into words. Dad. Dad.
I know you know you are loved for it is all around you. And I know your heavenly Father, and the Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit abound where we are unable. But for us, earth bound and reaching for ways to bring meaning and purpose to you, know that we love and miss you, though you are still with us.
In our thoughts, in our prayers, in our daily lives. We are holding space for you. However long it takes, whatever your journey. Not one of us is leaving your side. We hold. We do. We are holding space for you.