Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.
It’s been a little over a week since my last post. Hopefully none of you noted my absence with a resounding, “Thank God!” Yes, I get a bit wordy sometimes, in much the same way that a Chihuahua gets a little testy at times. It’s a way of life. And here you are, still listening to me. I guess something must be working right.
Mom used to tell me that, when I was young, I barely spoke at all. I guess I was saving it up for later. Dad had to go on a job-related trip when I was about five or six and, while he was gone, I discovered my voice. When Dad called home, Mom said, “He’s started talking and he won’t stop!” Dad thought maybe she’d been into Granny’s secret elixir. I think Mom tried some of it on me as well.
But you know, talking has mostly served me well over the years. As a writer, I never had to worry about getting paid by the word. No employer was ever that gullible. As a comedian, there was always somebody in the back of the room with a flashlight telling me when it was time to shut up. I think some people in the audience tried that a few times.
And my wife has told me several times that, when we went on our first date, she was mostly attracted to my willingness to talk. That’s a nice way of saying it wasn’t my rippling biceps. But she’d been with her share of guys who talked with their hands, and I guess in that sense, it had to be a refreshing change of pace.
As I got out of bed this morning, she told me happy anniversary. It was 41 years ago today that we stood together and said, “I do.” It’s been a ride like we could never have imagined, but there’s no other person on this planet I’d rather have taken that ride with. We complete each other, rough edges and all. Sometimes like sandpaper, but the right progression of sandpaper can really make things shine.
To say we’ve been through a lot together is an understatement. With two daughters, four grandchildren, career successes and failures, and our share of profound loss, I’ve always known she was there at my side. And I never felt that more than I did two nights ago, as I said goodbye to my dad. It was one of the worst nights of my life, and somehow, I still feel blessed.
If you remember my last post, I had just taken Dad to the hospital. Things were looking up a bit, though I knew deep down that was a temporary reprieve. Recovery wasn’t in God’s master plan, and he slipped peacefully beyond this life just before midnight Sunday. I was at his side, along with my daughter and grandson, and his whole family had been with him in his final days and hours.
I had lots of good conversations with Dad in those final days. Last Friday, he told me about some of his days in the Navy, and for whatever reason, he recalled a co-worker who had just gotten married and brought his new wife to our house, probably 50 years ago. I had no idea that would be my last conversation with Dad. A few minutes later, he went to sleep and never really woke up again.
But I also know he was aware of what was happening, and of everyone who was gathered around him. Even in his last hours, when I’d put the phone to his ear, he was visibly attentive. The sense of hearing is the last to go, so much that it’s been suggested a person can still hear the voices around them for a couple of minutes after they pass. I believe that.
One of life’s greatest blessings is the opportunity to send a loved one to their final reward with expressions of gratitude and love. As I said in a post last night, most people don’t get that chance. And as hard as it is to let go, those final moments will remain in my memory as some of the most precious of my life.
I think it’s fitting that, on the same floor as the Hospice unit was the hospital’s birthing center. As one person leaves, another life begins. I thought of that every time I walked past. I’ve prayed a lot for all those little ones and their parents, wishing them all a relationship like I had with my mom and dad. There is no greater gift than love, a lesson Mom and Dad taught by example.
And when it was all over, I came home to the one person I knew would be there to comfort me like nobody else can. After all these years, a hug and kiss from my wife can somehow make all the bad things disappear, even if only for a moment. I just hope I’ve been able to do the same for her.
As I said in my last post, we never know what life has in store or when we’ll spend our final moments with somebody we love. Make the most of those moments. Heal any wounds and atone for any wrongs. Life is short, my friends. Don’t waste any opportunity to make it beautiful.
That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!
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