Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Yesterday evening, my seven-year-old said, "Mommy, I am having trouble understanding what makes people die." I try to take this sort of thing in stride, and we had what I thought was an honest and age-appropriate conversation about old age, illness, and accidents. He still seemed troubled, though I thought I was being the perfect combination of honesty, calmness, and reassurance.
A few minutes later, he approached me again, saying, "Mommy, I'm worried about Grandaddy...when is the last time I hugged him?"
Oh, that's what this is about....
My Dad was diagnosed with Post Cortical Atrophy more than ten years ago. First his visual processing deteriorated, and then, sadly, his disease progressed to the memory loss and other aspects of dementia or Alzheimer's.
All of which can be challenging to explain to kids.
So, Ben knows that Grandaddy is "sick" and has trouble remembering things. And being the kid that Ben is, he adores his Grandaddy and has spent countless hours thinking up stories to tell him, jokes to share with him, hand-drawn pictures to send to him, and other great ideas for how to help Grandaddy feel better.
Have I mentioned how much I love this kiddo?
All of it is made more challenging by the fact that we live more than 800 miles from my folks, so Ben doesn't get to see them anywhere near as often as he would prefer.
Anyway, I need to change my technique and try to give my little guy some better information about his Grandaddy. He is declining, but physically he's not in bad shape, and Ben should have plenty more opportunities for hugs.
And for all my kids, it's so important that they understand that Grandaddy is so much more than just this hideous disease that steals him from us bit by agonizing bit.
He is the man so eloquently described in an honor he received from the Cathedral Choral Society: "Hospitable mentor, generous long-term donor of his time and many talents, decisive yet ever diplomatic, he is that rarest of all creatures--an officer and a gentleman."
He is every terrible pun you have ever groaned over, every song you've ever loved, and all the bikes you've ever ridden. He's every old clock that ticks too loud. He's the smell of wood shavings.
He is Jack: the Boy Scout; the ROTC cadet; the handsome, funny, smart, kind young man.
He is Sam's mischievous grin and brilliant brain.
He is Ben's uncommon sweetness and deep sense of responsibility for others.
The good news is, every time I laugh and smile and say, "You know who that reminds me of?" my kids know the answer..."Grandaddy!"
I had hoped they would have the chance to learn so many things directly from him, but I truly think they are getting the picture anyway.
Most days...they are the picture.
Sunday, February 8, 2015
Yesterday was a happy day. A Saturday. Bright and sunny after a chilly and somewhat gloomy-weather week. And I had plans for some girl time, as I headed out for a haircut and pedicure.
My first stop was Sheer Drama, where Gaye has been cutting my hair ever since we moved to Ocala in 2006. She also cuts Mark's hair and Sam's and sometimes Ben's as well. Rarely Jack's however because he is one of those spur-of-the-moment-I-need-my-hair-cut-NOW kinda guys.
Things are usually quiet when I go for my Saturday morning cuts, and this morning was no different, but after I settled into the chair and Gaye began working her magic on my locks, her next customer arrived early. No big deal. Sweet older lady. We're often on the same hairdo schedule, so we've seen each other before. All is well.
Then the door opens again. Enter elderly lady number two. Um, apparently someone got the schedule mixed up, but no worries, Gaye can manage it. It's a relaxed Saturday, and all is well.
Enter teenage boy with charming mop of hair in desperate need of a trim. Greets Gaye and the rest of us ladies with a big grin and plops down in a vacant hair chair to wait his turn.
Almost immediately, the door opens again, and another handsome young man (late teens, maybe 20) joins the rapidly growing gathering. This fellow has military-style short hair that just needs to be shaped up. He is not alarmed by how many others are waiting for Gaye, and he takes a seat in the corner--you know, the chair with the built in hair dryer where you sit while waiting for your color to set in the proper amount of time?
And as I'm sitting there, feeling relieved that I managed to arrive first, I realized how much I like Gaye, and Sheer Drama, and the diverse crowd they serve. The two boys were entirely comfortable in this hair salon, and they immediately began chatting with the two 70-something, grandmotherly women waiting for their cut and colors. These ladies clearly enjoyed the opportunity to interact with these well-mannered and friendly young men, who started helping them figure out a few things about their cell phones.
And I just sat back, smiled, and took it all in. No one was upset that Gaye was quadruple-booked. We were all just happy to be there.