Opa Vandersluys

Yesterday I happened upon a video tribute to a man who Marc knew growing up in Caronport. I believe Marc went to school with the man’s children. He died last week after a very brief fight with cancer. Even though I never met this man, I was in tears as I saw the final pictures, seeing him and his wife and their children and grandchildren — 20 people in all. The song playing was “How Great is Our God”.  I guess that’s all that you can say, isn’t it? His time with his family was cut short, far too short, but look at the life that they shared, look at the love that they shared. How great is our God.

And seeing that made me think of Randall‘s dad who died when he was only 64, just a few years ago now. Another life lost too soon. Another strong man whose body became weak in sickness.

And our family is in the middle of that, too, with Marc‘s dad. Except we’re two provinces away, so it’s a little less clear or obvious to us. But Marc is at his parents’ house in BC right now, and the eight months since we last saw them makes the changes in his dad’s illness even more noticeable.  Marc said on twitter the night he arrived: “Dad’s much worse.”

We’d heard it. We’d expected it. We knew it. But I imagine it’s very hard for Marc to actually see it. It’s hard to see life ending. It’s hard to see the loss of abilities. And with an illness like fronto-temporal dementia, it’s hard because there is still life in the midst of all of the loss. Often his dad is aware of what he’s losing and that is very frustrating and sometimes devastating for him. And it is hard and exhausting for Marc’s mom who takes care of him every day.

The fact that this has been coming on slowly, for almost a decade now, makes us almost feel immune to it. It’s become the norm. But there are times when we mourn and are angry at what has been lost, what could have been, what should have been.

There’s a time to be born and a time to die. A time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to mourn and a time to dance.

I guess that’s all I’ve got today. No great answers. No great comfort. No great theory that will take the injustice of it all away. Just the thought that in life the strong become weak and the smart become simple and that’s just how life goes — in whatever time-frame or method it takes. That’s just how life goes.

And I want Marc, after reading this post, to go to his dad and give him a hug and tell him how much I love him, how much I love his laugh, how proud I am that he’s my kids’ opa, and how much his grandchildren love him. We always will. And we’re thankful for all of the years we’ve had and for the years to come, too.

Posted in Family, Life | 5 Comments

5 Responses to Opa Vandersluys

  1. Rebekah says:

    I am sorry to hear about marc’s dad getting worse. Illness is not easy to deal with in the family…especially when you live so far away and can’t be there. Thinking of you.

  2. Toni says:

    I could see something of what was happening to him in the images on Marc’s blog this morning.

    This seems to be all part of life: growing old and weak and fragile. My mother now struggles to get 5M to the front door from her chair. She’s upset and frustrated that her body is so weak, and was desperately upset this week when it looked like the heart surgery that was suggested may make little difference. In the last 6 months she’s become increasingly breathless, frail and weak. She’s frustrated because she wants to be able to help people, to get out, to share, to speak. She is now often depressed in the morning from pain, lack of sleep, tiredness, struggling.

    I wonder, if we could have an ‘off’ switch, whether we’d use it sensibly or foolishly.

    She’s 75 now, and wishes she could see my father again, who’s been dead 18 years (he was 52).

    And for those of us left, this is also part of life, of living and growing, learning how to walk while we hurt.

  3. Jobina says:

    I got all teary reading this post.
    Who’s tribute were you watching?

  4. Dixie says:

    Jobina, it was Mr. Vincent’s.

  5. becky says:

    Much love, Dix.

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