Shades of Grey ...
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My Dad passed today, Memorial Day, May 26th at 2:44 in the afternoon. Dad was in day 11 of Critical care hospice after a long fought memory battle with Alzheimer's disease. Today he passed with my Brother Kevin, his Jamaican angel (live-in nurse) Merna and hospice nursing care present.
Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
It was nearly 8 years Dad lived with my brother Kevin and sister-in-law Gay in Palm Beach county, Florida. My parents moved from Titusville, NJ during a time of declining health and health issues not yet diagnosed. With the Northeast's harsh winters, trying to care for a large house with lawn maintenance became difficult for Mom and Dad. They could not continue their loving commitment in home ownership pride and they with great pause sold their home.
My brother Kevin is a neuropsychologist in private practice who specializes in Dementia and Alzheimer's. My Dad was fortunate to receive the finest care possible and 24 hour nursing care. Kevin promised our parents he would provide care for them at his home and never place them into a nursing home, a promise Kevin honorably kept.
My sister-in-law Gay who over the years has given freely of her heart. She is graced with an incredibly delightful dry sense of humor and understanding. Now it is and will be just my younger brother Kevin and I who remain in our immediate family. Over the years Kevin and I have grown very close. Besides being my endearingly kid brother he is my close friend and my confidant.
This photo was taken on my Dad's 90th birthday on January 1st 2013 by a family member who with a other family members coordinated a winter vacation/visit to celebrate Dad's 90th. Yes, Dad was a New Years baby! John and I were not in attendance because we had our holiday visit a couple of weeks before. I have altered the original photo to tonal to demonstrate my entry of shades of grey.
Dad's 90th celebration was the last time photographs were taken of Dad, sadly his health greatly declined afterwards, the real start of the long goodbye ...
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I would best describe my Dad's parenting style as believing in the merits of strict discipline, allowing us to exercise free will, but as children we were totally aware there would be accountability for our poor choices!
As a young girl I was convinced my Dad was the smartest man in the world. Seriously, how many other Dad's do you know who purchased the World Book encyclopedia's 20 volumes and read each book, cover to cover in under two weeks? Nightly after our dinner still at the table Dad would share all the amazing information he discovered in the World Book's. His enthusiasm became contagious to us, and afterwards we'd take down the volume from the Living room's knotty pine bookcase and read about his newly found discoveries. For me it was always the chapters about foreign lands and information about animals which kept me spellbound.
Growing up we would turn to Dad as our source of information, yup, he became our own personal early version of "Wikipedia"! It is because of my Dad I feel I've developed a love for knowledge and truthfully I consider this the greatest gift my Dad ever gave me, thank you Dad.
Dad loved "Newsweek" magazine and would patiently wait for the mailman to deliver each new issue. Plus every day a new crossword puzzle was completed by him and know what? Even the New York Times puzzles were figured out without leaving any blocks empty. Pretty amazing brilliance I'd say.
So losing my Dad to Alzheimer's is truly life's irony. During Dad's last year he continually searched through his mind, frustrated trying to spark his memory. In stage 4 there is a total mind/body disconnect, robbing one of their memories and the inability to recall, relive and share precious snippets of time. For the survivors of loved ones of Alzheimer's weeks turn into years and the sad reluctant realization of the true meaning and understanding of a long goodbye.
Poetry allows me to write both observational and short story fables. I am ending this post with a poem about loss. Not just loss through death but about all encountered loss. The poem freely flowed and demanded time of me to be written ... In June it will be four years of experiencing great personal loss of loved ones. What all my loss has taught me is greater inner strength and empathy towards others who experience all of life's losses. We all experience loss from time to time and it is through the sharing of our memories and peaceful acceptance we can recover and heal. As I continue forward day by day in my healing process I leave you with my list of lost family members followed by my poetic gathered words.
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June 2010 my Mother Vera slipped away after a long fought battle with cancer and it's remaining organ damages.
July 2011 my Brother Michael passed - a brilliant doctor taken way too soon.
April 2012 we loss Orlando, my Father-in-law, age 92 after heaven summoned him.
November 2013 my son Christopher suddenly died leaving his precious children behind.
May 26th, today Memorial Day, 2014 my Dad Michael surrendered to earths release.
Shades of grey
Loss often seems to arrive in multitude, each one colored in a different shade of grey,
I honestly believe in our heart loss imprints and lingers and feels like it will always stay.
When loss appears in your life it instantly becomes a thief of one's inner peace.
Symbolically you spiritually bear your cross and pray for it's gentle release.
So many shades of grey in loss...
As you try to attempt to process through the darkness of despair,
very quickly you discover it is what will enable you to soulfully repair.
Loss of a child or spouse, loss of a parent, a pet, loss of a relative or friend,
slowly in mourning you start to heal and allow peaceful acceptance to begin.
Loss of your faith, a loss of your innocence, loss of patience or loss of self respect.
Through soul searching you can re-evaluate, inspect and hopefully in time correct.
So many shades of grey in loss...
Loss of your health, loss of work, loss of life's purpose or a focused journey along the way.
Our losses simply get measured in multitude, in shades of grey that slowly unravel and fray.
Loss of a house, loss of your wealth, loss of precious little time, even loss of one's healthy mind,
forces one to examine and determine the significance of just how deeply we care is what I find.
Face it, while living your life you will at times need to spiritually bear your cross,
while analyzing and trying to reckon the many colored shades of grey in loss.