Monday, May 26, 2014

Shades of Grey ...

source - Google images

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.
~Mark Twain~

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 ...

source - Pinterest

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.

Source - Tumbler

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.

© Vera


  1. I can feel your pain and also the recognition of death's looming presence.
    I fully understand the hideousness of Alzheimer's.
    Your father lived a long long life full of people he loved and cared about.
    The poem is beautiful, Vera.

  2. I was just thinking of you earlier this afternoon as I was preparing to leave and take Ruben to the airport. I just got home, checked my email, and there you were.

    There is so much I want to say, but it is too trite. This is not the time. Dear friend, I am here. I do go back to work tomorrow, but how about another chat?

    There is much for your family to do at the moment, so I will give you time. But know we are all connected to each other, and your friendship is very valuable to me. Good night dear friend. See you in the morning. Anita

  3. Vera, I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your dad.

    I completely understand the irony you saw with your dad's condition. My mother was the one in the family who remembered the birthdays, events, etc. To see her struggle with memory loss before her passing was painful.

    What a beautiful poem, my friend.

    I'm sending prayers, and, hugs your way.xoxo

  4. Sorry to hear about your loss Vera. My mother in law lost her battle with Alzheimers 8 months ago, and it is a tragic condition to watch. After reading your poem I realize that loss after loss does weigh you down and time is the only friend you have. The words hit home.

  5. Oh Vera, as sad as this post finds me in reading it, I must say its your most beautiful work. You have honored your family memebers in passing and poetic words that lie on my heart today were heartfelt.
    My mother struggles with so many issues one being dementia, and nothing hurts more then the loss of memory.

    Vera,, beautiful Vera, I now understand where you get the ability to suck us into your world of knowledge...Dear beautiful (dad)

    Your dad has built his wings...
    ( Celebrate his journey )

    Love you dearly, lending you a shoulder of comfort, and one to cry on.


  6. Oh, Vera, I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your sweet dad! You gave such a wonderful tribute to him and your beautiful poem brought tears to my eyes.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you, my friend.

  7. Vera my sympathy is with you. I will write more to you tomorrow dear friend. xxo

  8. Unfortunately, I have been expecting this post.

    I was struck by the discrepancy in our days. Today is my daughter's birthday and we are happy for her that she is celebrating in Sacramento with her special guy. And there you are feeling the opposite of happy.

    I am glad you have your poetry to help you through the stages of grief.

    My thoughts are with you dear Vera.

  9. Oh Vera my dear friend my heart is breaking for you today. Even though you knew this day was coming it still is so hard to say good bye. You my friend have had your share of loss these past few years. Vera I admire your courage to deal with your feelings and express your grief through your writings. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  10. Dear Vera,
    My thoughts and prayers are with you this evening... So much loss Vera.. I admire you strength..
    Your poetry is touching and so beautiful, and I love the photo of your Dad...

  11. I am praying and writing and painting for you tonight while everyone has gone to bed. I am carrying you in my heart in your brokenness.

    "In the night of death, hope sees a star, and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing." Robert Ingersoll

  12. Dear Vera - I am so sorry to hear about your father. Please take care and know that your readers are with you. Warmly, Loi

  13. So sorry for your loss sweet Vera.
    I love your poem...keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

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  15. Sweet Vera,
    I am letting you know that you are on my mind.


  16. This post touched me profoundly. My dad died of cancer in 2004 after a lengthy illness. My mom died suddenly and unexpectedly this past November. I was somewhat prepared for my father's death, but completely gobsmacked by my mom's, and I'm still struggling with grief. Knowing that others have experienced these things as well is truly comforting. Thank you for this post!

    Cindy at Notes in the Key of Life

  17. Dear Vera,
    How sweet of you to come over to meet my Panda and leave such kind words for me... Thank you so much..
    Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.
    bless you,

  18. What a beautiful tribute to your father, Vera. My thoughts and prayers are with you and I'm sending a warm hug…

  19. Oh Vera.....I feel your pain. I feel your loss. And most of all, I feel the love that you had for your beloved father. We will always share this day as friends --- remembering our wonderful fathers and the beautiful life they gave us.... Bless you, sweet friend. ♥

    xoxo laurie

  20. Dear Vera,

    Such wonderful words for your dad, and a beautiful, thoughtful poem.

    I too have lost many dear ones in the past few years. My sister, our baby grandson, and my mom... how blessed we are to have had them in our lives.

    Sending hugs and loving thoughts to you,

  21. Oh- Vera- We have more and more and more in common. I lost my only brother 1-1/2 years ago to a fast moving cancer. 4 days from diagnosis to death.

    My Dad was also a fount of knowledge. He taught at Penn State years and years before I was born and he had an amazing and brilliant mind. While his body failed him with Parkinson's he was lucky (if you can call it that) to have his memory intact. He was such a good man and I miss him every day of life.

    You have certainly had your share of loss, Vera. Especially losing your son- no parent should ever have to face that loss -it is not the right "order" of things.

    Your poem is very poignant and says so much about you, who you are and your "take" on life. Here is something interesting. YEARS ago- I wrote a poem called Shades of Grey. I wrote it during a time of loss of my life as I knew it. I will have to see if I can dig it up. It is in the basement with my "old" life.

    I feel very connected to you, Vera. We share a LOT of the same life experiences. xo Diana

  22. My Dear New Friend,

    Although we have just recently `met` in this great big blogosphere, you already seem like an old friend. Your poignant piece in this post, so sensitively written, describing the pain and hardship of all the various types of loss throughout life, is observantly expressive. I am so very sorry for the loss of your beloved father, but I know that he is always with you in your heart and and in your soul.