Getting Old

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I am currently sitting in the back room at my father-in law’s house. This week end Crystal, Lisa (my youngest daughter), and I visited. We came partly because we try to visit both of our fathers as often as we can. However, this time we are also visiting at Larry’s (my brother-in-law’s) request. He and Linda went to Chicago this weekend and Jim would have been alone. In the past this would have been no big deal. Things are changing. Unlike the young vibrant character in our (yet to be published book), Jim is not doing very well. He is no longer fighting in the Philippine island jungles. Mary Jane, his wife of fifty-five years, has been gone since 2006. He fights memory loss and lack of mobility. His body is in an obviously declining state.  However, there is still something inspiring about him. He never gives up and rarely complains. Every day he gets up and does the best he can. He enjoys company and takes comfort in his old westerns and movies           


 Larry comes over frequently to help, but is getting burned out as a care taker.  He worries about Jim’s declining ability to take care of himself. This weekend in addition to helping Jim, I’ve been evaluating and compiling a list of suggestion for Jim’s care. My experience as a nurse is helpful in that regard.


The one encouraging thing is his attitude. Often, as we age, we become frequently depressed and mournful of all of the losses in life. Jim is not typical. In the Bible, the apostle Paul once said, “to live is Christ and to die is gain. “ Very similarly, Jim does the best he can in life, but insists he can’t wait to again see Mary Jane. He insists that sometimes he can still feel her presence in the house.  That type of faith is exceedingly rare. Maybe it’s true that true love never dies.


After we leave here, we go home. On the way, we will stop to see my dad. We will visit for a while; then go out to celebrate my birthday. I am fifty-nine today (not sixty yet!). Even for me, birthdays are no longer what they used to be. While we still honor the day, it’s now more of a reminder of mortality than reason to celebrate. With this, another year passed, I am more determined than ever that the great love stories of our parents be passed on.  Our book “One Hundred and Fifty Years of Marriage” will have its day.


Crystal’s Corner

            It is really hard to see my Dad the way he is now.  He is very sick and has lost a lot of weight and energy.  I am glad that we go to see him and to help when we can.  We live about 3 and ½ hours away, but we try to get there as often as we can.  I remember my Dad fondly when I was growing up as being a very fun person.  As a child he used to take me and my mom and my brother and sister to the People’s store in Roseland, Illinois.  It was a large department store I think on Michigan Ave.  The store had this large staircase with a landing halfway up with chairs to sit on.  My Dad would buy us some chocolate covered peanuts and we would sit and watch the people (which my Dad said is the best part of shopping) while my mom shopped in the women’s section and fabric section.  My Dad always held my hand when we would go anywhere.  To me he was tall, handsome and great.  He read everything I wrote in high school and college and came to as many events as he could.  Always he was proud of me.  He is a storyteller and always had funny things to say.  It is hard seeing him like this, but he is still my Dad and I will always cherish him.

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