No photos this time. They don’t seem to fit.

And this post is a little longer than I usually choose, but I’ve been away for a bit.

I am ready to break my blogging silence, but forming meaningful sentences isn’t easy. Sometimes I’m flooded with more thoughts and direction than I could share in a post of reasonable length, and then the next time I face the keyboard I can’t think of a thing to say. It’s a moment to moment grab for energy and then the observation to see just how long it holds out.

In my last post I mentioned a very unexpected recent family loss and then explained my desire to spend time with my father for a period of time. What I didn’t say  was that he was in the hospital with pneumonia.

On December 7th, with family holding his hand and gathered at his side, he very peacefully, more peacefully and pain-free than he’d lived for many months, fell asleep and took his last breath.

After what felt like a long build-up, it was a mercifully quiet leaving. He was ready. I think he chose the time, waiting for the rest of us to prepare and to do our own letting go.

I am grateful for a lot of things. I have lived so close that I had regular meaningful time with my father and the opportunity to be a part of his care team. It’s easier to accept the loss when I can with certainty recognize how I wouldn’t want him back in the same physical condition he endured for so long.

Parkinson’s disease is a fairly common disorder but each person has unique challenges. Dad’s symptoms did not include the characteristic tremor, but instead he struggled with muscles that cramped, spasmed and locked, making movement at times nearly impossible and almost always painful. The medications that kept him moving at all brought their own complications.

He never did complain and as a family we have all agreed that he is one of the finest examples of someone who accepted life on its own terms. He was a man of tremendous faith and he had an on-going dialogue with God that in the last months of his life he kept primarily to himself. He was always a very quietly contemplative man, but we gained insight into his thinking through his actions.

He was incredibly patient, even with the disease. On one very recent occasion I was spending the day with him and helping him walk in a few short circles from his chair in one room, through the kitchen and back around–simple exercise that took a very long time to complete.

I said to him, “Dad, I am so sorry this is so hard for you.” It took a lot of effort for him to communicate. With the progression of the disease he sat in often contorted positions and his compressed diaphragm impacted getting enough air to speak. But he  quickly responded, “Oh, I don’t know. I was almost 80 before I had any symptoms. I don’t think that’s too bad. Some people get it very young.”

I had an ongoing joke with him where at times I’d bring in an extra pillow or do something to try to make him sit a bit more upright. I’d ask if any of the actions “made it any better.” He looked so uncomfortable. He had a certain expression that crossed his face that said more than words, “No, nothing really helps,” but he patiently tolerated my attempts. And I’d always respond, “Well, thank you. It may not be helping you, but it makes me feel so much better.” He’d just smile.

I think we were prepared to let him go, but no matter, loved ones left behind are never ready. My parents were married just two months short of 66 years and together as dating teens before that. He was the center of all of our lives and for us, irreplaceable. It takes a little time to recalibrate.

We’ve been shown wonderful kindness and love by friends and extended family and I’ve learned that words really do make a difference. Even words shared a bit clumsily.

We had a small private graveside service and returned to our home. As my husband, son, daughter-in-law and I pulled up in front of the house our gardener was busying with loud mowers and blowers. I approached him and told him my dad had passed and that others would be stopping by the house. He could continue, but I wanted him to know.

He looked so stricken. He shifted his weight back and forth and then blurted out, “I’m sorry about your father, but we all have to go sometime, right?”

I don’t recall if I said anything in return. I know that I felt like laughing. My son caught me off to the side and said, “I wonder if I should have said that at graveside.” I started to chuckle when we both with immediate recognition said, “Yes! That’s exactly what dad would have said to us.” He had a quirky and dry sense of humor.

Words of condolence don’t have to be pretty, just heartfelt. And your words of encouragement following my last post were tremendously meaningful to me. And I have sensed and believed that through the connection of our shared words we have formed a meaningful caring community.

Thank you. And my blessing in return is for a peaceful 2017. We all hope for that.




68 thoughts on “Currently

  1. Debra. Sorry for your loss, but it seems you are also embracing the peace. I imagine the writing of this post wasn’t easy – probably including a few tears – but that’s all part of the process. Hang in there and take all the time you need.

    1. Thank you for such a deep understanding, Frank. I am relieved we have made it through the holidays. This was a difficult year for my dad and I have found peace in knowing he is no longer bound to a body that no longer supported him.

  2. What a beautiful post, Debra. Sorry to hear about your dad. It hurts to say good-bye to those we love . . .

    We lost Tigger last week. Every day without him is a little bit better. I wish the same for you.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Nancy, and I am SO sad to hear about Tigger! I’m glad you told me! I remember, too, when you shared about your dad’s passing. It does just take time, I know. I’m sure you shared more about Tigger’s passing and I’ll go back and read those posts. I feel like this has been a very harsh year and I’m hoping 2017 is a lot softer for all of us!

    1. Thank you for your kind words and I’m so glad you shared with me about your understanding of Parkinson’s. Because it is quite a common disorder I think most people don’t really understand how different it is from person to person. I am sorry for the loss to your family, too, Lisa. It’s hard on loved ones to watch a dear family member struggle and lose all independence. Several of my friends gave memorial donations to the Michael J. Fox Foundation and I thought that was wonderful. Research in this area will continue to interest me very much.

  3. Hi Debra, My sincere condolence on your loss. May your father’s memory be a blessing. Grief carves it’s own path- may it be gentle with you.
    I know all about Parkinsons. Both my father and my father-in-law had it.

    1. Thank you so much, Rosie. Very wise and kind words. And I had no idea both your fathers had Parkinson’s. It really is a common disorder but for some reason I knew very little about it until dad was diagnosed. I wonder if that’s because those afflicted are at some point generally so homebound that we don’t see them. As much as dad is missed, there is a relief in knowing he isn’t suffering.

  4. I’ve been on my own blogging break, Debra, and had missed your previous post. My deepest sympathy on that loss and especially on the loss of your beloved father. Parkinsons is a cruel disease and I’m glad you can take comfort from the fact that he is no longer suffering it’s indignities. Sending hugs from the other side of the Atlantic..

    1. Thank you so much, my friend. I have noted your own absence from blogging and so I’m delighted to hear from you. We have an assurance that my dad is truly transformed, and his faith that he’d earnestly cultivated his whole life was a great comfort in the end. I am glad we didn’t know all that was going to come when he was first diagnosed. I think people with advanced Parkinson’s are primarily homebound or in convalescent care homes so they are almost invisible. I will always miss him, but there is relief to know he is free..The last six weeks of the year have been a doozy! Thank you so much for your kind condolences.

  5. My friend, there is not much I can say that hasn’t already been said (even from your gardener), but, know you are in my thoughts and my prayers and will remain there for grieving and loss take time.
    I hope that the writing of this heart-felt post gave you a small measure of healing and hope as we face the new year.

    1. Thank you so much, Penny. You so clearly understand where I am right now in reaching for hope in the new year. I can truly say that 2016 was an exhausting year. I believe it has been so for many, many people as I listen to conversations around me. I’m very keenly aware that my dad continues on through his family. I look at all of his great-grandchildren, some still babies, and they lift my spirits and provide both hope and joy. I do thank you for your prayers. They are welcomed and sustaining.

  6. Gail

    How beautifully written, Debra. Thank you for the brief peak into your dad’s personality. In times I was around your family, he didn’t say much–he didn’t talk just to be talking or to hear his own voice. Now I can almost imagine what he was thinking. Succinct & practical, (that one should be all caps!), mixed with dry humor. What a lovely tribute. Blessings to you!

    1. Thank you, Gail. He had very strong convictions and opinions but wasn’t one to think he needed to share them. Sometimes to the frustration of his family who would have liked to have heard! But he also had a standing joke with the talkers in the family and would always tell them that we are born with a certain allotment of words, and when we’ve used them up, our time was up! Ha!

  7. Losing a parent is a rite of passage that we all must go through…if the world is working correctly. I think your dad’s attitude helped salve his leaving for you. That smile is a powerful thing. I am sorry, Debra, I remember how that loss felt for me. It wasn’t that long ago. Be well.

    1. Your observations are truly comforting, Jim. Thank you. This time in the life of our family feels deeply significant and worthy of paying attention to all of the feelings and memories that are stirred. I have so many friends, like you, who lost their parents in the past several years and have shared with me how the loss continues to feel very fresh at times. I am deeply fortunate to have so many happy memories associated with my father and I will continue to hold onto them.

  8. Debra,

    So sorry for your loss. So beautifully written, and touching. A moving tribute to your father. Brings tears to my eyes and makes me want to give you a big hug.

    My father passed from this world over 8 years ago, and I still miss him, especially during the holidays, but like you, I didn’t want him to suffer any more after a long illness. My Mom is living with me now, and I know I will be devastated when her time to leave this world comes.

    This part of life is so difficult because those we lose gave us so much love. I believe we will all be together again, and that gives me hope personally, but some days are tough. I was just thinking yesterday, that I am still learning to live without my Dad.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with your father. He sounds like a precious soul who you were fortunate to have as a guiding light during such a big part of your life.

    Hugs to you!

    1. Dear Karen, you also share your loss so clearly and I feel a kinship. You did send a hug, thank you. I love the way you worded your father’s passing “from this world,” which I, too, believe. I am certain of being reunited one day when I, too, leave this world. My mother lives across the street and we are very close, as you obviously are with your mom. She has been through so much in the last couple of years in caring for my dad to guarantee he could stay in his home. I am thankful to live so close and to continue to be a strong support going forward. You mention that although your dad has been gone a few years you are still learning to live without him. I’ve had several friends express the same observation and I will tell you that I’m listening to those of you who know! I appreciate your kind words, my friend. Blessings to you.

  9. Debra, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your Dad. This has been such a difficult year. CFL lost his brother in December, leaving him the only remaining member of his immediate family. We joke about “the conveyor belt” while wryly acknowledging that we, too, are on it. It’s a daily reminder to live each day fully and tell the people around us that we love them. I hope the new year brings you, and all of us, some peace. Be well, my friend.

    1. I”m so sorry to learn of CFL’s loss of his brother. That is another primary loss and I can understand how that would impact him and move along that feeling that time has us on a looming conveyor belt towards our own end. My aunt reminded us at my dad’s service that we aren’t perennials, and I liked that, too. We know we have finite years and so I agree with you that it is our best life if we remember that and live each day fully. I do appreciate your kind words, Lori. Thank you.

  10. I’m so very sorry, Debra, to learn that your Dad has also passed. Parkinson’s is such a vile malady and your Dad was blessed to have such a caring and supportive family to help him face its challenges. I can assure you that over time, your memories will lessen, and even replace, the sorrow you now feel. Even the bittersweet — like those “walks” — when recalled will become far more sweet with the passage of time. My thoughts are with you and your family, Debra. May your dear Dad rest in peace.

    1. Thank you for such beautiful encouragement, John. I have been so fortunate to have had both of my parents for so many years and I’ve known that to be a blessing. Going forward I have my mom to support and I’m enjoying letting her talk about my dad and share memories she’s recalling from their much younger days. I take comfort in your assurance that some of my memories will shift and soften. I admit that I’m overwhelmed when i think of him in the last few months of his suffering. I trust that time will carry us along and we’ll find new ways to connect as a family and to honor my dad in ways I can’t yet imagine. I am so appreciative of your kind words, my friend. Thank you.

    1. Robert, I’m deeply saddened to hear that your dad also has Parkinson’s. I have a real soft spot in my heart for anyone caught in this daily struggle. I hope your dad responds well to the medications. My dad did well for a few years and then this last year showed a rapid decline. I know, too, how hard it is on those who care for a loved one struggling with such dramatic impairment. Thank you for your condolences, and I, in turn, will be remembering you and your father in my thoughts and prayers, Robert. I truly will.

  11. So sorry to hear your father has died, but then it is hopefully a comfort to know that he is no longer suffering. My thoughts are with you Debra. I am sure writing this post was not easy, but they are lovely words about your Dad. All the best to you and your family. xx

  12. Debra, My heart goes out to you as you go through this loss and adjustment. What an inspiring man your father was…the way you wrote about him sounds like he was truly an inspiration. Blessings to you and your family, Kathy

    1. Thank you, Kathy. I am very grateful for kind words of condolence. There is a lot of relief in knowing that my dad is in a much better place. 2016 was very hard for him. I hope that you, too, have a peace-filled new year.

  13. Cindy

    Oh Debra, I’m so sorry for your loss but I rejoice in heaven’s gain. My grandmother passed from Parkinson’s, so I know much of what you all experienced. Thankfully he is at rest now without a worry or care. Praying that you and the family experience much peace and comfort as you close out 2016 and await the newness of 2017. Sending you lots of love!

    1. Thank you very much, Cindy. We are definitely experiencing a period of adjustment, but there is also great peace, you’re so right! And I am so amazed at how many friends have told me of close family members with Parkinson’s. I think it’s only been recently that I have keyed into how common an affliction it is, in particular in older adults. I think my dad was indeed very fortunate to only have major symptoms for the last four years. 2017 will be a year of adjustment for my mom, in particular, but we are very close and it will be a good year. I hope the very same for you, my friend. A year of peace and good health within your beautiful family! ox

  14. It is very hard to let go of our parents but when they have been suffering we know we must. The one thing you will always have are your wonderful memories of your father. You and your family are in my thoughts.

    1. Thank you, Karen. It is absolutely true that watching a loved one struggle and suffer eases the parting. This will be a year of adjustment, but we are going through the steps as a family, and that’s a great blessing.

  15. Anonymous

    Dear Debra
    I am so sorry for your loss you are in my prayers at this time. I am praying for you and your family to feel gods peace and great comfort. Your father must have been a great inspiration. Gods Blessings to you dear Wonderful friend. love Deb

    1. Thank you very much, my friend. It’s been a rough month or so, but we are experiencing peace, and I thank you for your prayers. You are such a good friend. ox

  16. Debra, no need to respond here. But I just wanted to say what a beautiful tribute to your father. I would have loved to have known him…I see where your faith and character come from! What a gift it was that you were so close to him…are still close to him. He truly does live within each one of your family members…spanning across all the generations. I pray that the next few weeks, months, and years to come will remind you of the sweetness of his life as you remember every special little thing about him. Love you.

  17. Time, contemplation and talk are all healers in a time of loss. But the greatest healers of all are the happy memories that you will recall in the months to come. Peace to you and your family Debra.

    1. Thank you, Martin. This has been a difficult time, certainly, but also a time for our family to pull together and to spend time remembering how fortunate we have been to have my dad as a family head. I am grateful for your kind words.

  18. Oh Debra sorry for your loss, your father sounds like a tremendous soul. I’m happy that he left this world in peace and that he enjoyed many wonderful moments with your family. Even though your post doesn’t have photographs I’m sure you have thousands of painted memories in your head of him. Wishing you and your family much courage.

    1. Thank you, Cristina. My dad was a very kind and wise man, and I think we’ll miss his quiet leadership. But he has made a lasting imprint on us all, and we are grateful for that. Going forward into the new year is actually much easier knowing that he isn’t struggling. I’m so appreciative of your thoughtful words, my friend.

  19. Hi Debra, I’m so very sorry to hear of the passing of your father. I didn’t know he suffered from PD. What a terrible time you’ve had. My mother was diagnosed with this dreadful disease in her early 60’s. Twelve years on and she has terrible symptoms and like your father, more distressing affects from the side effects of the medication. She’s meant to be having the brain surgery early this year and we do hope that will bring her some relief as before PD she was so fit and active and well and it’s terrible to see how PD can rob you of your dignity and qualify of life. Your father sounds like he accepted his condition with a lot of grace and courage. I wish you well as you walk through such a challenging period of loss xx

    1. Thank you for your very kind words and condolences, Charlie. I repeat here what I said in my post which was that my dad felt fortunate to be in his late 70’s before he had any symptoms. I’m just so very sorry to hear that your mom was diagnosed so young! It is so progressive and I’m wondering about her brain surgery. My dad wasn’t a good candidate for that treatment given his age but I really do hope your mother finds some relief. I hope it might be possible for you to let me know. I’ll be praying for her. xx

  20. I am very sorry for your loss, Debra. It’s always hard to see one’s beloved suffering, and even though it is a relief when the finally find peace, it’s still a tremendous loss. I know this from my own losses. This post is a lovely tribute to a person who was very special. I wish you all the best.

    1. Thank you, Otto. It has been a difficult time, certainly, but I’m so fortunate to have a large and loving family. We are a comfort to each other. I do appreciate your kind words of condolence.

  21. So sorry, Debbie! It can’t have been easy to watch Dad suffer and he sounds a lovely and brave man. When mine died so suddenly in October a part of me was happy for the things he didn’t have to face, and the likely loss of independence. But still I find Tuesdays very strange. We always spent some of it together, and coming back from holiday it’s no less strange. It’s hard to lose your Dad when he’s loved you and cared for you all your life.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful words, Jo, and I am so sorry to here of your own recent loss! I understand what you’re saying about particular days or patterns feeling odd! I also spent Tuesdays with my dad! One of the things that’s come to me as a result of sharing about my dad’s death and his Parkinson’s Disease has been hearing from so many people of their experiences with aging parents, illness and loss. It is something we all share, given enough time.

      1. I didn’t get to hold his hand at the end because we were in the Algarve when he died. It was a traumatic few weeks but we had a beautiful gathering of family and friends, including family from Poland, to say their goodbyes.

  22. I am very sorry for your loss of your most valuable and dear father, Debra. I wrote a heartfelt, belated message on your last post in December. I fall behind in writing and reading. Blogging ebbs and flows, but I am likely you, feel truly blessed withy blogging friends. xo

    1. Thank you Robin. I’ve lost a lot of time with blogging this year simply with recalibration of time with retirement and the changes in our family. But my blogging friends mean a lot to me, too, and we all just do the best we can. I really appreciate your kind words and thoughtfulness!

I always enjoy hearing from you!

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