Tag Archives: understanding

Feelings

This is another entry about the feelings my husband who is weighed down with dementia feels. He’s not alone, for this is a two-person journey from beginning to end. What I’ve seen in Bill is the sadness of losing each skill, each thought, each piece of him to oblivion. I’m not morose, or a negative person, but this is a sad condition of the mind. Dementia is a condition of the mind that two people have to deal with. Each must adjust and help one another cope with the stages that must take place.

My mother had Alzheimer’s and I watched her go downhill for 16 years. I took care of her every need for those years. She did not have to be alone going through the process of memory loss alone either. When she was sick and dying, Bill was diagnosed with Dementia. Sometimes I forget what really is happening to the person within. When you are with a person with such a condition, perhaps every day, you don’t see the gradual change. Others do see the larger picture and see the downhill slide.

To those who take care of these ones, it seems as if all of a sudden that ugly monster has shown its’ face and this decline appears so sudden that it takes your breath away. To me it feels as if it has been sudden that his thoughts and speech have trouble coming together, if at all. I remember the thoughts of his heart wanting to come out, but they were stuck. The thoughts were there, the memories are there, but the words are not.  

He struggles to get the thoughts out and it hurts me to the point of my heart breaking in two. As he tries to form the words or remember his thought, the look of desire in his eyes I know that he has something important to say to me. The unwillingness of his mouth to form the words that have already gone into obscurity and as the thought itself entered the doors of extinction, we look at each other helplessly. I can only hug him, tell Bill that I love him, and it’s not his fault it’s the monster attacking again. Then nothingness fills the void of silence.

 Sometime in Jan or Feb of this year, his son called us. I do not remember what the objection was, but JR was mad at me and he told me that he was very angry with me. He thinks that his dad should be down there with him where he could care for him properly and he could see his grandchildren. I started to cry, and I told him that he has a right to be angry and it was OK to be angry with me. His dad found his voice, grabbed the phone and let him know a few things that his son was not aware of. Bill reminded him that I was his wife and JR had no business getting me upset.

That was only one small thing that we have to work with. Bill has to remember that his son has not had to deal with older people and never with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It is a shock for him to see his dad like this, and he doesn’t see it as bad as it really is at this time. 

Thankfully, there is no one else on bill’s side of the family that we have to hold their hand and deal with this too. When you look at this, it comes down to the importance of the relationship that Bill and I have built over the years that is getting us through this. My sister said it all when she said that when you get old, all you have is your family to take care of you.

That’s the truth isn’t it? As for us, we’re just plugging along like everyone else is and taking it one day at a time.

 

There also was a sparkle, and I loved it. That’s for another blog,

 

Shimmer

There was a time I was shy and it was in the childhood years. The feelings within me were too much for me to bear alone, but alone I did bear them. I was only five or six years old. It’s truly strange that they were so severe that I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. I wanted to die but I didn’t know how to do that. If I could just disappear, I would have been happy. I never could do that either.

Therefore, I grew up despite my inadequacies. Along the way, there were far too many bumps, I thought. When I grew up and look back at my child hood there were some good times, and there were a few times that I did shine in my own right. Remembering an assignment that we had to do on the spur of the moment, the teacher asked us all how we would act if we found a mouse in our slipper when we got out of bed. The teacher called on each of us in no particular order. She usually called on me last and this time was no different. Each student did nothing but yawned, stretched, put their slippers on, ran and screamed. I am so glad that I was last because I thought the way they were all doing the same thing was stupid.

When finally my turn came around I yawned too, but I also wiped the sleep from my eyes, stretched, and yawned again. I then picked up one slipper put it on and put my foot back on the floor. I then slipped my other foot into the other slipper made a puzzled face wiggled my foot, and then I picked up my slipper, looked in it shook it then screamed and threw it on the floor. My teacher applauded me and said that what I did would happen in a real situation. You had to look to see what it was first. She praised me in front of the class. I did shine inside and out.

This class was on public speaking and I loved it. Another time I shimmered was on an assignment of comedy. We were all to write on a funny way something was invented. I told my dad I was stuck and didn’t know what to write about. My dad said he had an idea. I could write on how the twist was invented. I asked what he meant he said maybe an ice cube had somehow fallen down into a ladies dress. I thought about that and since it was freezing cold while it was melting, she turned one way and then other just trying to get the ice cube out of her dress. It finally fell out but not before the kids started doing this new dance. They started calling it the twist and from now on, the twist has been a big hit.

The other kids in the class loved it and the teacher was howling. Of course, I acted like what she might be doing. All were laughing so much. I walked to my seat and had to pass the teacher. I remember her asking me if I had thought of that myself. I had to admit that my dad came up with the idea, but I wrote the story. She had an A in her book, but she marked it down to a B-. I still gleamed that day, so there was another shimmer in my life. I’m sure there were other times I sparkled too. I just can’t think of them right now.

Somehow as time went on, I grew from a shy child that could hardly speak above a whisper, to a woman who could voice her opinion in a loving way. It was time, circumstances, and effort that brought me out of my shell and blossom into a writer that is able, as are many others, to put down thoughts that are understood and heartfelt.

Casual; has it gone too far?

 

When I was in school, mind you I’m giving away my age, we had to wear dresses or skirts, and boys had to wear dress pants and dress shirts. There were no exceptions, nor were there any excuses. It was automatic that you put them on and it was expected with no variations to that rule. It was the school dress code and girls dresses and skirts could not be above the knee. It had to be just below the knee or longer or you were sent home no questions asked.

As a matter of fact, I was a senior in high school before the code changed. The schools became a little less strict on the matter. They dared to let girls wear pant suits and this was allowed for the girls. Boys dress didn’t change yet. Girls pant suits had to match top and bottom with a blouse if it didn’t cover the below the neckline. The style in that day was that the neckline was covered. I felt absolutely scandalous wearing pants to school. It was utterly unheard of.

The next style to appear on the scene were mini skirts. Oh my goodness! That was allowed in school but it could not be any shorter than 3 inches above the knee. Already thinking that was showing too much, never would anyone be catching me wearing one of those kinds of dresses. That’s what I thought. Bob, my boyfriend at the time want me to wear one, so he gave it to me for a gift, all wrapped up in pretty paper. I already thought that the school dress code had gone too far. In fact, when I was wearing a pantsuit I had felt as if I should have a dress on. Bob knew my opinion, but wanted me to wear one anyway.

Casual was the word for these mini skirts dresses and skirts. I wore one out on a date with Bob. He loved it and I hated it. I felt positively naked in it. I kept trying to pull it down over my knees, but every time I tried to pull it over my knees, he would push my hand away. I hated this dress and I hated Bob for making me wear it. Our heads clashed once the two piece bathing suit came out. I gave in and bought myself a two piece bathing suit, but I found my own style of two piece. I bought a two piece that covered the midriff and the bottom was the length of our gym shorts had been, and our behinds did not hang out.

Anything goes today and nothing is casual really, that is not according to the words above. So be careful ladies.

Difficult Apology

There’s a program here that gives a prompt. That is to help writers get their thoughts running again. Now, you may use these single words for that purpose,  just for practice, or you may do them  for fun.

I wrote a daily prompt a while ago that was on the word apology. I began by saying that an apology that consists of a short statement such as “Oh, sorry ’bout that” is an unacceptable apology. When an offense is committed against a person it becomes a personal offense. A personal offense deserves a personal apology. Sometimes an offender doesn’t realize that they have offended or hurt someone.

After 20 years, my personal offense against my family has become a painful realization of just how deeply that one act hurt them. I never dreamed that my actions would hurt anyone but myself. Seeing that it does, apologies are long over due. After I wrote and posted my apologies online, thoughts of my own attempt ran through my mind again. Slow motion flashbacks kept me awake night after night. This was a very sensitive subject to me and to my family. Once believing that my children, my stepson(s), our granddaughter, and my parents would not suffer any pangs from that act, but now I knew that it did. I removed the post. Unfortunately, I hastily destroyed it and wish I hadn’t.

A comment on one of my posts was a cry for help so, I had to write this post. I have to do this for my family because it has taken me more than 20 years to realize the unimaginable agony I caused the ones closest to me. Unexpectedly, I found myself needing to apologize to a number of people. That one comment made me imagine what happens to each family member when someone commits suicide. Jess, there was a day you revealed to me you remember the day of musical chairs. Then you asked where that was. I had to tell you that it was at the hospital for people who needed help.

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This act would have hurt you in a way different from all the others. If you had known that when it happened, you would have realized by the time you were in grade school that your grandma would have been there in your life to watch you grow up. Had I succeeded, you would have realized this was my fault that I wasn’t there.

Your years of growing up were some of the happiest years of grandma and grandpa’s lives. The visits, the overnights, the talks, and the vacations we took together, we always tried to do things that your parents didn’t do with you. I would have missed all those things.

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When someone commits suicide they don’t really want to die, they want to stop the pain. I remember wanting to die way back when I was a child, but I didn’t know why or how to do it.

He never saw any of the promises the recruiters made. He was in Afghanistan but a couple of months and they sent him home. He was in Bethesda Hospital for a while and as soon as he got out, he waited for a train on the deck and threw himself onto the tracks in front of the train.

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To everyone that felt the sting of my actions, I truly believed at that time, I was only hurting myself. I truly believed that it would affect no one but me. Anyone who thinks that way needs help right now. I knew I was in trouble and headed for more, but I didn’t know how to stop it. Owing everyone in the family an apology, I am going to try to do that now.

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My husband and I had a long talk along with my apology to him. This was the most difficult person I have ever had to apology to. When I realized how deeply my husband loved me, how much he depended on me to care for the family and all that had to be carried out. If he had me no longer, and had to take care of all the affairs, and how much this would have devastated Bill. I could see it then. He would not have been able to bear this happening to him. He had already lost so much in his life; this would have deadened his emotions to the point of physical and emotional paralysis.

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JR, although you are grown now, you were young at that time. If I am correct, I believe you were 13. Words will never be enough and there are not enough words to apologize to you. I know that this did hurt you in ways I don’t know how, still to this day. You saw what was happening to me and I sincerely apologize for the unhappiness and uncertainty I caused in your life at that time. It was more difficult for you than any of the kids. You were at the age that you needed a mother figure in your life, and I let you down. In the younger years of yours and Jason’s lives we did have many good memories, but I am aware of the bad ones too. There were too many and I feel badly about those days too. Sometimes I still cry about those days, and I cry even more over the selfish act of suicide. We’ve never talked about it, so I don’t know exactly how you felt, how much you knew, or what damage I did to you.

Jason is not here for me to apologize to. It’s too bad that he was hurting so badly that he needed to make the pain go away the only way he knew how. (His girls were loved so much by him and they loved him too. He might have been able to put the brakes on and she would not be so wild.) I know that this hurt him at that time in ways I don’t know either. My attempt affected him somehow but I won’t know until the resurrection. He was a difficult child to get to know what he was thinking. It may not seem like it, but at times I felt as if he were my own too. He tried to reach out for help, but I was not able to cope with him at that time. Many times you saw me help him when he needed it no matter what. I know that your father didn’t know what to do to help either of you. He’s a good man and loves both of you. I do look forward to seeing him again. We both did the best we could at that time.

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Now I turn to my own 2 daughters. Tammie, I know you were and still are very upset with me and there isn’t anything I can do about that. You only stayed with us a couple of months. When your father changed the lock on the door without your knowledge and you didn’t want to come back to us, I just figured that you didn’t love me, so I let you go. I didn’t order the police to put you on a plane back to us.

I don’t know how my actions affected you, if it did at all. You are further away from me than words. All I can do is apologize. I truly am sorry for my act of selfishness.

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Lauralee, You were around when this happened and I’m so sorry that it hurt you; some day I would like to sit down and talk about that. I hate now what I did years ago. Our relationship has always been rocky at best. I know we laughed about that before, but it isn’t really funny. I am sorry that I don’t recognize how this affected you since we are not very close. I would like to talk to you about it someday soon. My deep apologies for not being there. Thank you for the amount of time that you let Jess visit us and spend so much time with us while she was growing up. I feel bad that we didn’t have time to have lunch when I was in Denver. I’m sure Jess told you I got pretty sick in Laramie. I won’t be back to CO again. The altitude I can no longer tolerate. The doctor said that once you leave, you can’t go back if you have lung issues.

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This is for my parents who were thankfully busy with their own lives. My dad was sick and my mother was trying to take care of him and work at the same time. Now they are both gone, so I cannot apologize to either.

Underestimate

Why would you want to do that?

I underestimated myself all the time until I took a good look at the word and then a good look at myself. Using the thesaurus, I found the first word listed was “under value”

I didn’t know myself at all. Here I was plugging along and just going through the motions of life. I never stopped to think that I had any value at all. Until I got off  “my little pity pot” and took an honest look at myself.

  1. Yes, I had faults, so does every one
  2. I just had no energy and I didn’t care if I made a difference in anybody else’s life
  3. I’ve never felt I was worth anything at all. OK I told myself.. 

It’s time to get off the pity pot and get some positive juices going. The reasons above are now things of the past. First of all, I am a person who is a giving person, I love people and it makes me happy to give to others. I know that I make them happy because they always tell me how glad they are when I stopped in and visit them, or bring them something to eat when they’re sick.

Then there are all those years that I contributed to society by working, paying taxes Then there is the fact that I have talent in some things. I love photography, and I have a knack for writing. It doesn’t matter, stories, diaries, resumes, etc. I found that when I looked at life through the eyes of an objective person, I have a lot of worth.

So, let’s all get off of our “little pity pots” and take a good look at ourselves. I will never underestimate myself again and I bet you won’t either.

Dance, Dance, Dance

Dance? Why, Thank You Sir

When I saw a flyer sitting on the counter at the nursing station one day while I was waiting for Bill to get ready, I just knew this would be something Bill and I would be interested in going to. There was going to be a shindig at the nursing home. Everyone and their families were invited. There would be a Country Western Band from 2-4pm. A petting zoo would be set up between 4-6pm which consisted of a skunk, kangaroo, porcupine, camel, capybara, and some other more common animals to our part of the world.

Of course, there would also be hot dogs, soda, cotton candy, and a few other choices of usual carnival food items. We went to this as it was set up in the driveway of the nursing home. I didn’t get there until 3pm since my home care worker came that day and wasn’t done until 2:30.

When I got there, the band was playing in the main dining room and Bill was just being escorted back to his wing so I told the aide that we would like to go over and listen to the band. We walked back over to the main building and could hear the music coming from the dining area. I told Bill that I’d like to go and listen to them and we began to go down the hallway. The closer we got to the dining room, the louder the music. I suggested that we go listen to it in the visiting room in the front. Bill agreed and we started to walk back the way we came.

We hadn’t gotten very far; Bill stopped, took my cane, set it aside and said, “Let’s dance!” Just imagine my surprise at that since in our 29 years of marriage we had never danced. Not even at weddings would he dance! Now that I can’t keep my balance very well, hence the cane, he wanted to dance. “Okay, I replied let’s dance!”

There we were, just dancing our hearts out and both of us smiling from ear to ear oblivious as to what was going on around us. Occasionally I did notice the ones that could see down the hallway from the dining room were just watching us instead of the band and smiling too. Some of the family members made remarks such as, “Oh look, they’re dancing, isn’t that just adorable?” and, “Isn’t that precious?” Several stopped and watched for a few moments smiling then walked on. I thought to myself, “Yep, we’re old,” and once again turned my attention to dance with my husband. Bill grinned from ear to ear, and was oblivious as to anything going on around us. I just wanted to be in the moment with my husband while he was happy as he was before this monster overtook him.

I know it used to make me smile too when I’d see older people dancing or walking hand in hand down the sidewalk. It is smiling and worthy of an “Oh, isn’t that just precious?” The literal translation of those types of statements is, “Isn’t that nice an older couple is still close and intimate? They want to and can do things that they did when they were younger. We fit the bill, 29 years of marriage, and even through the dementia we giggle over a private moment while taking a walk. In marriage there is an intimacy that only those two people have. A look, a twinkle in the eyes, and a reach for the hand. Those days are much fewer now as the dementia has slipped into Alzheimer’s.

The next time you see an older couple dancing together as if they were one, ice skating as only a couple that has been married for years can do, walking hand in hand and talking, perhaps even giggling at a memory only they share, think to yourself, “Isn’t that precious, and isn’t that adorable?” Happy marriages filled with laughter, trust, love of a lifetime, intimacy, and gracefulness in old age.

Not every time I see him, will he smile and that new sparkle will be there. I am not fooled by this kind of behavior for I know the time will come when his eyes will be blank once again, his smile will fade away, and he finally will no longer remember me. This happens, day by unannounced day. For now, I will take these fine days while his eyes have a mischievous spark once in a while and his smile is sincere. I will take today and cherish it even after it all stops.

He is not smiling as much and is confused as to where he is moving. He is wandering and that is not good. He is now in a dangerous position. I know that when we go to the doctor he is going to put him into a nursing home.

A letter to my stepson

 

 

My dear Stepson,

From the first day you came to live with us when you were eight years old, and the cutest little boy I had ever seen. You looked like your father, walked like him, talked like him. You followed after him all the time. Your brother had come to live with us at the same time. I’ll have to admit, we had some issues settling in and thinking of us as a family. I’m not sure that either you or your brother ever did.

I know you remember the house we lived in when your dad and I were married. Remembering one instance still brings tears to my eyes, and that is when your brother got up on the roof to help your father repair some shingles. I was standing there when you asked if you could help too. Your father said “No you can’t, just your brother can.” I saw the tears welling up in your eyes as you looked at me with disappointment on your face. Do you remember what I said? I do.

I said, “That’s okay, I need you to help me shop, you are so good at finding coupons for me. I just can’t shop without you. You’re my little shopping  buddy.” So off we went. You were, content while we were shopping. You helped me a lot. You and I cooked together, you helped me with dishes, and sometimes you helped with cleaning. You helped me almost all the time.

That was just one instance and it may not even mean much to you. You do not have to be someone’s mother to see your stepson is hurting and try to sooth that big scrape. You do not have to be someone’s mother to feel your step child’s pain, see hurt in their eyes, and be there when he needs you.

I was the one who was there when you were in trouble, and it was me that talked to your teacher when he cursed. You don’t have to be a mother to watch your plays, and go on field trips with your class. Do you remember who cooked for the family, changed the sheets, cleaned the house, tucked you in and kissed you good night? Son, did you hate me back then?

I’ve stuck with your dad through each stage of dementia. With each skill he lost I’ve been here to cry for him. When a thought was lost because he couldn’t get the words out. I cried for him.  Every time he would get mad at himself who was there to calm him? I’ve been here all along. You haven’t seen him slip at all. You just come here and think he is fine because he is having a good day. You have not been here for anything he has been through.

Do you realize that if I had not called, you would not even know you father has dementia? I say that because you never call him. I’ve called you. Why? Because I think you should know about your dad even if you don’t think of him often. Yes, you visited us three or four times, but you wouldn’t spend time alone with your father. It was you who was telling me to get him involved to keep his mind active. I didn’t see you trying to do a thing for him.

When I told you he was coming in and out of Alzheimer’s now. You immediately wanted to move us to Phoenix. You must have thought that he was able to be moved without falling further into Alzheimer’s. Your father is 72 he needs to be in a nursing home, but I am still caring for him. I take care of his every need. I dress him, I bathe him, I comb his hair, I shave him, I brush his teeth; and I help him eat when he can’t. He doesn’t like it when he can’t see me, in fact, he panics. This goes on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 12 months a year.

Then just the other day I had to call you again because you don’t call your father. You would not even know that your dad was slipping in and out of Alzheimer’s. When I explained that your father and I talked about moving to Phoenix and neither one of us thought this was a good idea. He was worried about starting over again too.

When I told you about us not wanting to move down there, I knew you thought that I talked him out of it. You don’t really know your dad at all. I could hear it in your voice. I’ve heard that tone before. However, that Sunday your father could hardly talk. His head was on the arm of the chair, and random words ran together with no formed thought. Suddenly he snapped out of it when he was saying bye to his granddaughter. He joked with her, changed in an instant. I rejoice when he snaps out of it. That means I’ll have him with me one more day.

Saying good-bye to your father only and not just once, but several times. You made your feelings very clear when you did that. You’re not very subtle, you are very plain to read. You believe that I have not taken care of your dad very well. Let’s look at that. From the time he was in the nursing home to the day I texted you that he was slipping in and out of Alzheimer’s, how often did you even call to see how he was? I can recall the exact number of times. It is 0. Now when he is slipping away from me so fast that I will soon lose him, you think you can just move us down there and take care of him yourself. No, neither one of us wants to start over. Your dad and I have been married 29 years come the 23rd of July, and I want to have  your father with me as long as I can.

I am your step mother and once you love a child you don’t just stop because he is a step child. I have no idea when you started to hate me, perhaps it was the day you screamed at me about the nursing home. Oh, it doesn’t matter. My feelings are; I was thrust into that position and I became a mother to you. Never will I ever claim to be your mother and I never did. I did mother you for 8 years. Think about these things, because lately you have burdened me with your hatred on top of the burden of caring for your father. It is what it is. I just have no more to say. I’m worn out.

Your loving stepmother

The Flying Fork

 

When my step dad came into the picture, I was about 11 years old. There were five of us kids, four girls and one boy. My older sister was eight years older than I was and she had just left home the year before when she turned 18. She joined the W.A.C.S to get out and away from home.

Jack asked us if he could marry our mom which I was very impressed with and the four of us said yes even though my brother didn’t fall in love with him like the rest of us did. He came from money, but drank it all in his early years. He was broke and just out of jail when he met my mom. They met at an AA meeting and he fell in love with her.

We weren’t sure what to call him after they married 2 months later. Our new stepfather thought that it would be appropriate to call him daddy-Jack since our biological father was still alive and had visiting rights. It wasn’t long before I dropped the Jack and just called him daddy. Not long after that my sisters did the same, but my brother just always called him Jack. Ronny only approved of them marrying after he observed how well he treated mom and how happy she was now.

Ronny was older and remembers the fights, the screaming, the pushing and shoving that went on between my father and mother. I was only six when they separated and remember some fighting, but he remembered a lot more. The house was now quiet with the only fighting that went on was between us kids which were quite normal.

Since my daddy had money when he was a kid, he was raised with impeccable manners. We on the other hand, were very inept and crude in ours. His manners followed Emily Post, and ours was sort of fashioned after the three stooges. He was not too impressed the way we reached in front of everyone to get what we wanted. He just watched us for a while and didn’t say anything.

One day came along that he could no longer stand it. He could no longer bite his tongue even though he wanted to give us time to adjust.to him being a part of our family. He talked about what was polite and not polite and started with the things that bothered him the most. I guess that chewing with our mouth open and talking with food in our mouths was the first thing he tackled. The correction came by way of verbal reminders. It didn’t take long to get these bad habits almost all under control when I got a big surprise one day.

I reached for the pot roast which was sitting in front of my sister who was sitting next to me at the dinner table. When I reached for the dish, I got stabbed with a fork. Well, that was a strange thing to do and it shocked me, and don’t even mention the pain on the back of my hand. I pulled my hand back and glared at daddy-Jack. I couldn’t help but wonder why he just did that. The twins started to laugh.

I just glared at him. He finally asked me if I knew why he did that. I said “NO” with tears in my eyes. He said that Emily Post, the leading authority on manners, says that reaching in front of someone is very bad manners. I asked “How else can I get it without picking the dish up myself?” He then said these foreign words to me that I will never forget. He said, “You ask someone to pass the ‘whatever it is you want'” “From now on if anybody forgets to do that, the fork will be on the move again.”

The only thing I could think to say as I rubbed the back of my hand, with tears still in my eyes was,” Okay Jack, next time I will ask someone to pass me the ‘whatever.'” I never got stuck in the back of my hand again, and soon after started calling him daddy once again.

He was a wonderful father to us and thought of us as his own children. We were his family and we came first. He always told his secretary that if one of his family members’ calls and wants to talk to him he told her to always put the call through to him even if he was in a meeting. I remember many times coming home from school and if he was there, we’d always go into his study and talk. I couldn’t talk to my mother, but I could always talk to my daddy and tell him anything because he understood, he didn’t judge me, and he just listened.

I was forever worrying that the man I thought of as my father would die not knowing how much I really loved him. On his dying bed, he called me to come close he wanted to talk to me. When I leaned over, he begged me not to ever forget him. I started to cry and told him I was always afraid he would die without knowing how much I loved him. We both cried and laughed at the same time as I told him that of course I wouldn’t forget him as long as I was alive. That was the last time I saw him, he died the next day before I could get back to the hospital.

I now think fondly of the fork that stabbed the back of my hand. I cried for weeks when daddy died and the flying fork will forever remain a memory.