January 20, 2015(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th year where I write and illustrate a blog on each day's gift.)
After a long struggle with Parkinson’s, my father passed away on December 2, 2014. Often during his declining health, my sisters and I questioned why he was still alive. What purpose? Certainly, his quality of life was nearly nonexistent. In the past year, he needed 24/7 care. My sisters and I are grateful that we were able to honor his wishes to remain in his apartment rather than going into a nursing home. Though money was fast running out, we were lucky that he had been frugal and had some savings that allowed us to bring caregivers to him in his apartment.
We were especially blessed that his caregivers were compassionate people who truly cared. This was obvious in so many ways. Not only did they show a lot of patience in dealing with the sometimes erratic emotions and behavior that goes with Parkinson’s, but they also went out of their way to enrich his everyday life in little ways. One knitted mittens for him to wear when his hands often became cold. Another brought a bulletin board to him to display the daily post cards I sent while I was traveling. They all listened and communicated with him and showed him respect even when he was so helpless. Some of them visited the funeral home and came to his funeral. One spoke eloquently at his funeral. This was not part of their job. They were not being paid. They did these things because they cared for him.
Since his death, my sisters and I have received messages (another today) and letters from these women he had late in his life when he needed them.
“I was grateful to have known him for the short time I did. His wonderful nature was clear to me despite his disease…We had many merry times together. We were sad together and held each other up. What a blessing…His values and personality lives on in each one of you.”
“…I have always felt that my time with Mr. Alvin was a divine appointment. We had so many good laughs and enjoyable conversations… Mr. Alvin taught me what diplomacy is. He showed me how a person accepts, forgives and loves others; and lastly, he showed me what dignity looks like. Our relationship fulfilled a vacant place in me that longed to know the love of a father and grandfather. All of you treated me well and very thoughtfully. Not only did Mr. Alvin change my life, each of you did as well. It was a privilege to work for Mr. Alvin and you, the family. I want you to know that I have always felt appreciated. My year with all of you is forever etched in my soul.”
“ Your father has crossed my mind many times in the past weeks and I keep thinking of the things he gifted me with, patience, understanding, gratitude and so much more. He truly was a wonderful man. He encouraged me to stay in school and he believed in me when I did not…he was the reason why we were brought together.”
Perhaps our father hung around a bit longer so he could deeply touch just a few more lives before flying away.
Today’s gift is compassion.
You can read my other posts on this project here: