It is now over a week since the one-year anniversary of my father’s passing in 2012. What an emotionally-replete one it has been. Can you spell roller-coaster?
Fully-braced, I pulled out all my strategies to get through August 26th. Generally, Monday went as well as can be expected. What I didn’t see coming was August 27th – the actual date I learned of his transition.
How intriguing is the connection between mind, body and spirit. Despite how much I’ve discovered through the trials and tribulations of seeing a difficult elder through the latter stages of their life’s journey, I was not prepared for what happened around 3:00 p.m. By my memory, that was when I received The Call regarding my Dad’s loss twelve months ago.
I remember at the time wandering aimlessly about his house, not knowing quite what to do with myself. The extreme cleaners had reverently departed, leaving me to mourn in private. Instead, I called it quits for the day shortly thereafter, having accepted a neighbour’s kind invitation for dinner followed by falling into a fitful hotel sleep nearby.
By around 4:00 p.m. in 2013, the queasiness had mostly abated, allowing me to maintain a dinner with cherished friends. Still, it was nothing short of stunning to experience such a visceral reaction “all that time” later.
Expected outreaches mean everything.
What did not catch me off guard – but delighted me considerably – were the emails received from the two most interesting “categories” of people – those who are definitely located in one’s corner.
Apart from phone calls shared, here are a few extracts from correspondence representative of those whom you anticipate will be there and they are:
“My thoughts are with you as you navigate the memories and emotions associated with the anniversary of your father’s passing.”
“If I have my dates right, this is the one year anniversary of your father’s death…and I know you are marking it in your own unique way. I think you have passed through this last year with great fortitude and forward movement and, of course, you continue to reverberate with the many deep experiences of the past few years. Today, I hope you will find ways to try to remember good times in equal measure to trying ones. Stay well, and remember that among many other metaphors, you’re a graceful tree who knows how to bend, sway and still remain tall!”
“As to feelings about your parents, I know it will take a great deal of time to heal. After all, it was over 50 years in the building of those feelings…a lot to let go of but the building of the feelings is over, now it is the letting go of them. You need to feel them before you can release them in peace. It is 19 years ago today that my Dad died and I still have times when I feel it. Time will heal.”
An out-of-the-blue communique means the world.
Then, there is the grouping of individuals from whom you don’t necessarily expect to hear but you do. This one floored me in its poignancy. It came from one of the extreme cleaners who supported me in that horrendous household across the gruelling summer of 2012.
“Allow me to first pass on my clear thoughts and positive vibes to you on a sad day. I remember working on that shed in the backyard of your old family home…with crowbars, hammers and flailing limbs, banging away…how much we sweat and ached our way through, one plank of wood at a time. I remember the sense of pride I had, with how much effort it was taking to tear the thing down. I thought to myself, ‘Here is a man who built things to last.’ When you came outside and told us about your father, I was heartbroken. I knew he was dying, that death was inevitable; but there is sadness in the finality of life. And thankfully you found out, there is also growth in that same finality. Carol-Ann, you showed us how unlimited your spirit really was.”
A perfect “stranger” took the time to write. On another level, once one has worked side-by-side with another human being, slogging perseveringly through the disaster-zone, it may not be so astounding after all that they remembered, too.
Either way, I still say – Wow! It was most assuredly profound to open this email on an extremely-dank August 26, 2013.
From wherever it comes, I will NEVER forget others’ kindness and generosity during what was unequivocally the most horrendous chapter of my 55 years on planet Earth so far.
Last week, amongst other things, I took some extreme self-care time in the garden finishing a read of Brene Brown’s amazing book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.
In it, she quotes Theodore Roosevelt’s speech, “Citizenship in a Republic”, delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23, 2010. I do believe it has become one of my Top 10 Favourites of all time:
“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great deprivations; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”
As far as I’m concerned, un-cope-able eldercare resides squarely in the center of the arena.