Friday, January 14, 2011

After Wednesday



The call on Wednesday came as most calls of this nature do, early in the morning, the shrill ring of the phone even more piercing than usual, as though to warn the listener that the news it was about to deliver would leave a scar.

I answered it. “We lost the Chief this morning,” my brother-in-law said, holding back his tears.

I turned to deliver the news to HOB. His father had died.

As some of my faithful readers will remember, HOB’s father had struggled with Alzheimer’s for many years, the disease finally robbing him of his memory entirely. When he was alive and stricken with the disease, we concentrated on the man that existed there. We worried about his condition, and checked in on him when we were in town. The focus stayed on the present, on the reality and responsibilities that it brought.

It was a narrow focus, but a necessary one.

After Wednesday, after absorbing the news, we found that the spotlight that had centered on his Alzheimer’s and all it had wrought, began to fade. The stage lights began to come up and shed light on his entire life, on all of his years, as a law student, as a veteran, as a husband, as a father.

Slowly we allowed memories of his entire life to be played out and found the stage to be full of color and activity. Yes, Alzheimer’s was a part of his life story, but it takes its small, sad place at the back. It is no longer the focus, just one part in an otherwise full and vibrant life.


Viewing his whole life once again is at once a good thing and also a painful process. There is so much now to remember and celebrate, but also to grieve the final loss of.


During his childhood, HOB lived with his family in a community nestled in the hillsides above a large lake. His father loved it there, and was so happy to be able to raise his family in this idyllic setting. There were docks around the lake, which were wonderful places to sit and look out at the placid waters. The broad sky in the distance served as a fantastic movie screen upon which nature could do her wonders--sunrises, sunsets, lightening storms, the incredible riot of clouds that sometimes fill the Kansas sky.


This is the heaven I hope for my father-in law: he is there at the lake on his family’s dock. He is greeted by his mother and father. They hug him, smile and show him the chair they have reserved for him. They sit together and watch the sunset.

The sky darkens and then the show begins.

There in the sky, he sees scenes from his life. All of the gifts that Alzheimer’s took away over the years are slowly given back to him. One by one, the memories return in vivid color and detail.

There you are at three years old, holding your mother’s hand.

There you are beside your father, dressed in a suit, ready for church.

Your first car was blue. And it was fast.

You fell in love with this woman.

There you are, in your tuxedo, on your wedding day.

There you are at your desk, working at a job you loved.

These are your three sons. They grew up happy and healthy and never stopped loving you.

See those six children, waving there? They are your grandchildren. They carry on your name. They carry on your legacy. They remember how much you loved them.


In my fantasy, the spark slowly returns to his eyes and he is robust again. He remembers everything.

It is getting late and a bit chilly on the dock. His parents turn to go, but he stays.

“I want to watch it all one more time,” he says, smiling, settling into his chair once again and looking skyward.

“One more time."




70 comments:

Ami said...

He sounds like a remarkable man.
I'm sorry for your loss.

~Tom~ said...

My prayers are with you all during this time. So sorry for your loss.

Seams Inspired said...

Oh, sweet bloggy friend...words are inadequate. Thoughts and prayers for you and your family. May the Chief's memory be eternal.

Parsley said...

I'm so sorry for your family's loss.

Leanne said...

Oh, Betty . . . that was absolutely beautiful. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you, of HOB, and dear dear Chief. God Bless him.

floweringmama said...

Best wishes for your family during this difficult time. I can only hope that Heaven is truly like what you describe.

Brian (not the cat) said...

Beautiful remembrance, Betty. Very sorry to hear of HOB's loss. Please pass on my condolences.

Hilary said...

Oh Betty.. you have such a beautiful way of looking at life .. and at death. I'm so sorry for your family's loss but happy for your father in law's gain. I believe it's exactly as you described. Best thoughts to you and yours.

Pat Tillett said...

A beautiful tribute Betty! Sad...
My gram always said that "You're never really gone until nobody remembers you." It sounds like "the chief" won't be forgotten anytime soon...

Baby Sister said...

Beautifully written. I am sorry for your loss, but I'm glad he's not suffering anymore. Alzheimer's is not a fun thing. You will all be in my prayers.

June said...

A fine piece, this.

The tragedy of Alzheimer's is that the death takes an agonizingly long route.
I'm sorry for your loss. For the shock of the recent one, and for the years-long one.

Miriam in KS said...

A beautiful tribute to HOB's father. I'm keeping all of you in my prayers. Celebrate his life as you let the memories and stories flow.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

This is so moving, Betty. It's both sad and uplifting. He was, and still is, a blessing to you all.
My thoughts are with you and yours.
xoRobyn

Joyful said...

Your words are beautiful. I'm sorry for your loss but grateful for your memories :-)

Susan said...

Dear Betty, we love you and hope you will be comforted by your good memories. We are thinking of you and HOB and the boys. Love, Susan and Rebecca

Zuzana said...

Dear Betty, I am sorry for your and your husband terrible loss...
I still have both my parents and they are - and have always been - the most important people in my life - for me not to have them here any longer is unthinkable...
Beautiful tribute and a very candid post.
xoxo

jenny_o said...

A really beautiful tribute - my sympathy for your family's loss.

Powdered Toast Man said...

Very powerful. I hope that is really what happens. At least you can remember the good times. Celebrate his life.

The Adorkable Ditz said...

I'm sorry for your loss. I almost lost my grandmother this past week, hopefully she'll do better but I'm not sure what is going to happen. She's been going in and out of the hospital a lot lately.

http://theadorkableditzmissteps.blogspot.com

Peggy K said...

Betty, I read this post after returning from the wake of the mother of my dear friend. She lost her mother to Alzheimers as well. And my heart is hurting for her. But your post put joy in my heart, and inspires me to write something for my friend. Thank you.

Ann said...

Oh dear Betty, I am so sorry for the loss of your father in law. Your words brought tears to my eyes. Such a beautiful description. Know that I am thinking of you and your family in your time of sorrow.

Jules said...

Oh Betty,
This disease has also stolen one of my loved ones. The way you write of all memories returning just took my breath away. My heart and prayers for your family.
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Tabor said...

A lovely tribute and I am so sorry for your loss. Once the person is gone, the disease is no longer at the battle front and we do then to remember our loved ones differently.

Nicolasa said...

What an amazing man he sounds like. So sorry for your loss. Give each other a hug for me.

Old Kitty said...

Oh BB and HOB!! I am truly sorry for your loss. I know that he's in the heaven as you describe here BB - it's beautiful and peaceful and lovely and a wonderful resting place for this lovely man. Take care
x

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

I am so sorry for your loss. You have imagined a wonderful heaven for your father in law.

Gigi said...

You, HOB and the rest of your family have my condolences. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Mamma has spoken said...

Nice tribute to your father in law. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Anne Gallagher said...

Oh Betty. I'm so sorry for your loss. Please give HOB my sincerest condolences.

That was a lovely tribute to the Chief. The tears automatically started falling while reading your heartbreak, sadness and love. I too, could picture him out on the dock. "Just one more time."

Out on the prairie said...

I have worked in geriatrics with this a lot. It is hard on the families to loose someone before they are gone. The return of a few thoughts are remarkable.Sorry for your lose.

Madi and Mom said...

Dear BB and family,
My heartfelt sympathy and prayers to you all as you cope with the loss of this dear devoted father, father-in-law and Grandpa.
You are all in my thoughts and as you so eloquently wrote may his days be filled with beautiful lakes and sunshine.
Sincerely,
Cecilia

Nat said...

Dear Betty, HOB and family
So very sorry to read this. The Chief sounds like he was an amazing man, who will live on in your memories.
My thoughts are with you all...
Nat

Leah J. Utas said...

Beautiful. Sorry for your loss.

Nicole said...

Wow. Beautifully written.. tragic for your loss.

Lin said...

Oh, Betty. I'm so very sorry for the loss of your FIL. You and your family will be in my prayers.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

So sorry for your loss Betty, death is never easy to cope with but the memories you have will always remain......I speak from expereience.

Take care.
Yvonne.

Tracy said...

Betty,
I am so sorry for your loss, as well as your husband's...it IS a time to look at his life in totality and remember the precious moments and Celebrate those!
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family!

Georgina Dollface said...

My dear Betty,
I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm sending you and HOB and your family my thoughts and prayers. This was such a lovely tribute to someone who was clearly so deeply loved and cared for. - G

mskanorado said...

BB & HOB, I'm so sorry for your loss! Sounds like he was a phenomenal man! This post is absolutely beautiful!!

Cricket said...

With sympathy and prayers for you and your family.

I have written this comment before, but I will write it again, because I believe it. Those we have loved do not pass away, they pass within. Not a day goes by when I do not think of my grandparents - perhaps the most significant relationship of my life. Not one.

This, I think, has something to do with the meaning of eternal life. They are part of me now, and it is more than mere memory.

We should all be so fortunate to be remembered in words like these.

LittleSilkDress said...

Hugs and prayers for all of you, BB.

Ann Best said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Best said...

(My error above. Sorry.)

A celebration for a life well lived! You will miss him, as will all of your family. Your memories and faith will sustain you until you see him again (I believe you WILL see him again).

May you feel peace.

Barbara Shallue said...

I'd like to think heaven is how you described it - thank you. My sympathies to you and your husband during this time.

Miriam said...

I love your vision of heaven, and hope that's what is waiting for us all. My heartfelt sympathy to you and your family.

Lori said...

I am so sorry about your loss...sorry that this horrible disease exist...I am thankful that there are much more good things to remember then this short time of his being ill. You tell the story of his life so beautifully and the part of him being with his parents and watching the sunset and then his life...wow...I couldn't help but cry...my condolances to all that loved him.

gayle said...

I am so sorry for your loss! This was a beautiful post!

Shan said...

I can picture him there, and I can see the spark. I hope HOB can see it, too.

Much love and peace.

Kazzy said...

So sorry for your loss. His spirit is free now, and back in full force.

My Big Secret Blog :) said...

I have gooseflesh reading this. Cheers to HOB's Dad! Cheers to this vision you've painted. Blessing it with all my heart, I hope it turns out EXACTLY the way you've hoped it will! Huge hugs to each of you.

BECKY said...

What a beautiful tribute, Betty. I'm so sorry for your loss, but as you so eloquently wrote...The Chief is now in a happy place.

Ca88andra said...

Sorry for your loss. My mother and grandmother had Alzheimers and I know how devastating it can be.

slommler said...

Such a wonderful tribute to HOB's Dad! So sorry for your loss!
As he sits in his chair on the dock at the lake...viewing "one more time"! I love that image and there he is!
At peace with a smile on his face. Knowing who he is and where he is at!
Hugs
SueAnn

Judy said...

I am so sorry for your loss.

What a lovely post.

Velvet Over Steel said...

So very sorry about the loss of both your father-in-law and of his last few years of remembering!

What a wonderful man he must have been. You wrote a beautiful tribute for him and your husband!!

Hugs & Much love to you both,
Coreen

Catherine said...

So sorry for your loss.
Warm hugs,
xo Catherine

Daisy said...

Betty, I am so sorry to hear this news. My thoughts are with you and your family. Hugs to you from me.

Liz said...

I'm so, so sorry, Betty. My condolences to HOB, too.

The Empress said...

Beautiful post, Betty.

This should be framed, matted, hung, displayed, honored:

I love this post.

It is quietly evoking of so many memories...

The Green Streak said...

What a wonderful way to capture the wonderful memories of the man who gave you your husband.

Lisa said...

Oh! My! This is so beautiful. It brings back so much to me when I lost my father. So hard...I am so very sorry.

Love, lisa

citymouse said...

Betty, I think your tribute to your FIL is very touching. Death's sting is bitter but loving memories help heal the pain. Know that I am thinking of your family.

Marlene said...

Oh, I am so sorry. Big hugs to you!

Entre Nous said...

There are no words, just heartfelt feelings your way.

Green Monkey said...

a friend of mine just lost her mom and I know your post will comfort her. To Chief! and to you Betty for keeping us grounded and uplifted.

Ashley King said...

Oh Betty, I am SO sorry for your and your husband's loss (and the rest of the family's as well)....

He was incredibly blessed to have such wonderful family.... and you speak of his life and love so well.... this brought tears to my eyes. How peaceful it must be to know he is reunited with his entire life, where Alzheimer's is just a tiny part in his wondeful life.....

You never EVER cease to amaze me with your words.... I hope you all are hanging in there!! *hugs*

Noelle said...

Oh Betty...that was beautiful.

From this point on that is how I'm going to picture my grandma...sitting in a chair, watching all that she missed, and loving every minute.

Yaya' s Home said...

Hello, Betty. I came to your blog to visit my friend. I read All In one Week. I read It Suits Him. I read Monday Morning Flowers. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Then, I read After Wednesday an' I began to weep. Your love for HOB's dad is so strong an' so well expressed that it broke my heart an' sent it soaring on wings of emotion. I sobbed with the love so beautifully expressed in your words. I don't think I have ever seen a more impassioned eulogy in my entire life.

The Chief must be looking down in joy to know he will someday be reunited with his family. Thank you for sharing his life with the rest of us. Though I never met him, I feel as if I know him. Thank you.

Hugs,
~ Yaya

Jennifer Shirk said...

What a beautiful post.
I'm so sorry for you and HOB. {hugs}

Sara said...

Please remind me to buy a box of tissues before I read any more of your blog posts :( Sending you and your family hugs.....