I Am My Dad Today

Has anyone faded away from you?

I know I am not alone. I know there are many others who share the loss I feel because someone they love is fading away from them.

Whether the reason has a name like dementia or Alzheimer’s or is nameless, whole parts of them seem to be missing and it creates a huge hole in their world. And my world too.

To watch this happen, whether bit by bit or all of a sudden and know there is nothing you can do to stop it, brings a cascade of tears.

How are we, the ones left empty and dry by their departure, to sit with this sense of loss?

I can only answer this for myself, but perhaps by sharing a part of me, there might be something valuable for you.

I write.

And through the writing, I allow my heart to bleed words onto the page.

For me, this is a way to vent the grief I feel and once it is outside of me, I can breathe again. I can let go of what I’m holding inside that rests on my chest and smothers me.

By writing, I open to wisdom and peace and let words flow through me into the open air.

Here is the poem I wrote.

I Am My Dad Today

I am my dad today.

At least that’s what my mother thinks.

She calls me by his name, her only connection to this world.

She asks me (him) where she is. I tell her but it doesn’t sink in.

She asks again.

I offer another answer and it falls into the same dark hole with everything else I say.

For a moment, I am not my father, and she asks me who I am.

I brace myself and tell her, I am your son.

A look crosses her face.

I wonder, could it be recognition?

She looks up at me and tells me she has no children.

I guess that makes my sister and me orphans. It’s certainly the way a part of me feels.

I wonder what string attaches her to this earth. I can’t see one. It must be some sort of magic.

It’s time for me to go. I tell her I need to go home to make dinner.

She asks me when she will see me again.

I try to calm myself.

I tell her that my sister, her daughter, will be with her tomorrow and that I’ll see her again the next day.

She turns away.

I walk out of her room wondering who I will be to her then. I cannot possibly know.

The one thing I do know is she will still be my mother.

I try to find some peace in this.

I love you mom.                             (end)

I know that I cannot change what is happening to her or to me, but I need to find a way to live in this new space.

I’m sure that others who have experienced this might be able to shed some light on this for me, but I want to know what god has to tell me.

So, I ask.

My answer comes from a part of god I know and love. It’s a part of god I know as Lia, which stands for Love In Action. She has a distinctly feminine voice and always speaks loving truth to me.

I try to calm myself and let go of the distractions that surround me. I breathe in and out, slowing and softening, so I can hear her voice clearly. When I find some peace, she speaks.

“The solace you seek comes when you release and accept.”

She continues, “Yes, of course, you feel deeply for the living loss of your mom, who is both here and not here. Rest easy and remember this…when she is with you, she is yours AND when she drifts beyond you, she is mine. She slips past the veil between worlds, and she comes to be with me. We sit together with the most precious love surrounding us and we rest in this beautiful state of bliss.”

I take heart and she tells me more.

“I know that all you see is a woman you love who appears to be here with you, but you cannot seem to reach her, and she seems disconnected and far, far away from you. I encourage you to see beyond this surface view. I ask you to accept my blessed assurance that she is with me and is always covered in my love.”

I sit with this revelation and let it fill me with peace. I do still feel the loss of connection with my mom, but something deeply profound has change inside of me and I now know she will always be taken care of, not by me, but by the sweetness of the divine.

Choosing Your Memories

If someone asked you to share one of your memories, what would you choose to tell them?

Now imagine the same person asked you to share five or ten or fifty, how many of them would be ‘good’ memories?

If you were given a day or two to conjure up as many memories as you possibly could, how long would it take before you mentioned a ‘bad’ memory?

It fascinates me to consider what my answers to these questions would be. It feels like some sort of subtle test, a way to measure my satisfaction with my life.

I had an occasion recently to investigate this idea up close and personal. As my mom’s power of attorney, it was up to me to sign all the mortgage closing documents on her recent house sale.

I’d promised myself that I would walk through the house before the closing. I wanted a chance to capture the living memories I felt were stored there. I wanted to sweep them up and bring them with me. To store them somewhere safe inside me so that I could hold them, perhaps forever.

As I walked in the front door, the floodgates opened. I can’t recall the very first time I entered the home I grew up in and I that I have been a part of for over sixty years, but so many things stood there in front of me.

The house has so many interesting features and every inch of space is utilized. There is a shelf inset into the wall in the foyer. One of the shelves used to hold a small wooden ship I carved for my father. It had toothpick masts and thread rigging and it took me a long time to build. It’s not there anymore. I have no idea where it went.

I walked into the living room. A place where so many joyous family gatherings were held. A place where a mounted deer head rested above the fireplace. I’d bought it at a garage sale for 25 cents. I thought it was a great deal. I’m willing to bet the seller and his wife thought they’d made a profit. The deer head is gone now. I have no idea where it went.

On into the dining room, where all our family dinners happened. My mom was an excellent cook and I remembered many of the meals we ate there. If I stretched a bit, I could almost taste them. It became my mom’s reluctant bedroom, when it wasn’t safe for her to go up and down the stairs any longer.

Going from room to room brought more and more sweet memories. Words, sounds, feelings. The comings and goings of six decades. All the games, conversations, fears, hopes, and dreams. All the wonderful cookies after school, fresh out of my mom’s oven. The mad crazy ping pong games with my father in the basement, which was too short for our smashing forehands. All the imaginative games with my sister, one of which was pretending to be radio disc jockeys under the dining room table. Don’t ask me why that was our station headquarters. It just was.

Upstairs I walked down the hall to my bedroom. I could still see it as it was when I was a child, the placement of my desk and chair and bed, the Hopi Indian wall hanging, even the closet that had a sort of secret compartment where I stored my prized possessions.

My memory lane is long. The savoring, both touching and sweet.

Perhaps you’ve lived and lost some parts of you, a house, a family member, friend, favored pet or a lessening of your skills and senses. It happens.

What I think matters most to me is what I do with my memories.

Do I let the ‘bad’ ones overtake me, bringing me down and crushing me into silence and grief?

Or do I sift through them until all that are left are the golden, glowing, shiny memories. The ones I wish to keep and hold near to me.

The beautiful thing is, we each get to choose.