Parting is such … sorrow

Screw Shakespeare.  There was no “sweet” in the parting of our family today.  Marc’s parents left this morning after a relaxing (though, of course, tiring) week long visit.  And it was hard to see them go.  Madeline told me this morning as soon as she got out of bed that she was going to miss oma and opa.  And we will certainly miss them.  Alberta seems like an awfully big barrier between our two provinces right now.  (That and the idea of travelling with two toddlers…)

But, today was especially hard because of saying good-bye to Marc’s dad.  I don’t know if Marc’s even mentioned this on his blog, but it’s not a secret… Marc’s dad has fronto-temporal dementia.  It is similar to Alzheimer’s but it only affects the front and temporal lobes of his brain.  This visit was the first time I really noticed a significant change in his abilities (we last saw them when we went for Christmas 8 months ago).  He is only 71, and it’s getting harder and harder on us to see and know what he is going through.  Especially since, because only two lobes are affected right now, he is often aware of his own degeneration.

Today as we said good-bye I could see him taking a mental picture in his head of all of us as they pulled out of the drive-way.  And I could tell he wanted to keep us all like that forever.  Still able to talk and play and be together.  Still knowing each other.

And I fear what the days and months and years ahead will bring.  For him and for us.  This kind of disease just doesn’t seem to make sense.  There seems to be no mercy in it.  The slowness of it.  The worry of how long things will last.  The guilt of sometimes hoping it will end quickly, since it cannot get better.  The constant attempt to make the best of what is left.  And yet knowing we’re still going to get on each other’s nerves.

Today I’m thinking about all of those things that I told Johanna around the time they were losing her grandfather.  All of those truths about life and death and hope that are there.  And I know they are true.  And while it makes it easier to know that Marc’s dad is still with us, it also makes it harder because there is no finality, no certainty.  

Except that we love each other.  And are committed to doing whatever needs to be done so that Marc’s parents can live happily — the life they always wanted to live together — for as long as possible.  And even on those days when we fear the not knowing — of us or the grandchildren — or the not knowing of the future, we will somehow take hope in the fact that it would never have been enough.  There is never enough time or enough love to show to the people you love.  Thank you, God, for your eternity.

(Coming from the upstairs stereo now is the voice of Johnny Cash in one of his last recordings singing Four Strong Winds, and I just need to sit here and have a good cry over it all.  Marc’s dad loves Johnny Cash, and is the reason why Marc loves him so much, and he commented listening to this cd this week, that “he sounds like an old man singing about going home”.  And the words of that song right now are, indeed, “sweet sorrow”.)

Posted in Family | 4 Comments

4 Responses to Parting is such … sorrow

  1. Ang says:

    Definitely know how you are feeling. My grandpa had alzheimer’s and it was a horrible thing to watch him and endure and endure himself. Especially on the days when he knew he just wasn’t remembering things right.

    This last week here has been a hard one as well. My granny is worsening by the day, my brother had a death defying accident with his horse, Bill’s brother had a death defying accident and I have been unable to sleep with my crazy work schedule that I am on the verge of tears at every given point today.

    Know that I am praying for you guys and Marc’s dad. I love you guys.

  2. Maryanne says:

    I actually cried while reading this. There is so much that you expressed here that resonates with my family’s own experiences with Alzheimer’s — especially the awareness that it’s all about to change, and the paying attention so that you remember how they are right now. Okay, I think I need to write about this more on my own blog, before I start high-jacking these comments.

    Love, hugs and prayers to the whole VanderFamily.

  3. SharonK says:

    It was wonderful to have met your in-laws on Sunday, Dixie. Beautiful folks. Our prayers will be with all of you in these days, for God’s mercy and strength and peace…….

  4. […] 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 […]

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