A family is a unit which adapts and adjusts to its members.
We call it love & refuge from a dangerous world outside. As parents, we try to raise our families with diligence and sh them through thought & action the substance of our values. Our children grow up each with different views of their world. As much as parents want to protect their children, the single most devastating life event we can never protect them from is our own inevitable deaths.
I can tell you that no matter how long you have with any loved one … it’s never long enough. You will always want for more. When my dad passed, I felt as I were an orphaned in this big vast world & my sisters had no idea what it was to be the oldest, five years the only and as though I were an outsider … even though I was the one who was the first, knew my parents in their youthful twenties, saw their unvarnished clearest and deepest passion for each other before they learned to become parents of a family of four daughters. As we grew up, my parents came to believe in an idealized concept of what our family needed to be. My father became a priest. My father was an amazing priest. He had an eloquence of words, and a deep love and concern for his congregation. I was not there often, but often enough that I could hear his poetry and his love for God.
When I became an adolescent teen, I became jaded and skeptical of everything.
I was angry & rebellious. Then I went to college and I learned how family dynamics work. It is never ends up the way we think it will be when we begin our families. Then your parents age & become geriatric. You remember them being young, joyful, full of laughter …. elated in your every new step, new words and first walk to school. They recall your first sleep over … your first babysitting job … your first date.
One day, you realize your mom is very ill and you can’t do anything about it. Three months later, she dies. Ten years later, your father has his final illness … and he languishes in a nursing home desperately trying with all he has left to get better.
My family has became like a hurricane. When Dad got sick, he became the center of a storm. As the storm churned, his physical body became engulfed with symptoms, changes and horrible effect like wasting, edema, tremendous loss of weight, loss of appetite; inability to swallow. Loss of muscle. Loss of coordination. Confusion. Depression. A loneliness and solitary fear he couldn’t speak about because he needed to protect his daughters. He couldn’t eat as he loss more muscle coordination. He loss more of his appetite. He couldn’t make up his mind after a while. He yearned for home. He hated having his intakes and outputs measured … he hated being poked and prodded routinely every 4 hours. When he began to get better, he became optimistic. He became hopeful. But then sepsis set in. Dehydration began again. I brought in biotene spray to help stop the dryness he was experiencing in his mouth. He was amazed at how effective it was
My sister would be by his side by day, I would be by his side by night. I would practice my yoga next to his bedside as he rested. He and I would watch war stories and the history channel. I would watch him in amazement as in his sleep, he would drink imaginary coffee, build furnaces and pipe fittings in his sleep. He would lift an imaginary fork from a plate to his mouth as though he were eating the best meal ever.
When dad died, us four sisters became like four directional spin offs from the storm. …. four separate storms of the hurricane. Dad was the center. When he died, the center of the hurricane ceased to be. And everything that circled around him, we became to be carried out away from his center. We were also spun out apart from each-other. Each of us, experienced a very different emotional landscape, a very different grief and loneliness.
As sure as the sun rises, I know that the fall out will continue. Even as his estate is settled, we will be changed forever. Yet all I can think about is … how difficult it must have been for him to lay in that hospital bed day after day fully capable of comprehending his situation … and all he wanted to do was protect his children from the worst possible outcome …. losing him.
I’ve always worried about my children experiencing this similar situation… But my oldest daughter reminds me that our family dynamic was very different. Does this mean she will miss me any less? A few year ago she would tease me about renting a hoveround cart to drive around Disneyland. I was confused …. Why would I need a cart when I could walk? I became determined never to need any mobility help!!!
My children grew up in a broken family, with an early divorce after 15 years of marriage. Our storm began early; No, it wasn’t a death storm … but my oldest spun out early and went to live with my parents, leaving two younger siblings at home. The hurricane in our family began to spin out early… Maybe there will be no need for emotional goodbyes. My second daughter lives in a different state. She is a military wife raising two children. My grandchildren may have only distant memories … perhaps it will be gently disguised – a tender mercy. It will protect them from sadness and anxiety. My youngest, my son is in no shape to take care of himself at the moment, let alone his family. He is still growing and maturing. He is still learning about life.
I have a family business to run. Actually, I have three businesses to run. I’m an entrepreneur by nature & choice.
I also have two grandchildren to raise. I get that from my parents – who raised my oldest from 14 years on. I’m paying it forward.
I believe in giving our children the best & brightest chance we can possibly give them. I want to make a difference. One way, or another … I will.