The Child Within

Today it is I who feel every bit like the child. I am picking one of my favorite sister-in-laws up at the airport, with my kids in tow, to cushion us both from the pain of taking the next step. Although I will be very happy to see her, I also feel otherwise. The purpose of her trip is not a happy one. She has come to be with our close family as we lean on one another for emotional support, as we put my father-in-law (her and Mark’s father), a man who has shown me what a father can and should be, into a nursing facility.

My father-in-law is in the end stages of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. Separating him from the woman he has been married to for close to sixty years is heart-breaking. But, it is time. His needs cannot be met any longer by those who love him the most.

My youngest kids never knew the healthy grandpa. He has been slipping away. There is no indication of the special, dedicated man he was. Holden has many memories and Josi a few years of them. I have memories too. Of:

~        his signature, “Be careful!” whenever I left his presence,

~        his twinkling blue eyes every time he greeted me,

~        him claiming me as another daughter,

~        his gentle offer to walk me down the aisle to marry his son,

~        years of shared vacations and meals,

~        walks on the beach,

~        decades of conversation and laughter,

~        him flirting with and teasing my mother-in-law

~        how close he was to his only son (my husband),

~        the quiet pride he had in his family,

~        the fine role model he was as a father and husband,

~        and being accepted and loved unconditionally. 

The kids have been patient, compassionate and loving. We adults, children ourselves in times of grief, will need to draw upon the strength and joy our children bring as we all take this next step in the journey of good-bye. We need to show our children how we care and support each other. And the child within me will need to be held as she holds others.

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6 Comments

Filed under Claiming, Family, Rite of Passage, The International Mom

6 responses to “The Child Within

  1. Oh dear do I feel your pain! My FIL also has Alzheimer’s and in three short years he’s really no longer there. It’s a terrible disease and I’m sorry that your children haven’t know the man that he was, but he’s still teaching them a valuable lesson…how to care for your family as they age. Wishing you all the best at this difficult time.

  2. You have me all teary. (((hugs))) for you and your family. It is a difficult journey to make parent-like decisions for our elders. And yet you are always conscious of parenting and the emotional needs of your kids.

  3. A lovely tribute to a man who sounds amazing. Hugs, Judy.

  4. LeeAnn

    Judy,
    You couldn’t have put it any better. Uncle Bruce is my only uncle. He has brought many years of laughter and teasing to all of us who lived with him and Peggy for a short time. He is one of the few who call me Lee and I cherish all my memories. He made me feel special and loved, he is so special to me.
    Love, thanks and prayers,
    LeeAnn

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