When he started to go, my Dad’s downhill was pretty rapid. First, he had a hard time walking, tripping occasionally because he couldn’t lift his feet up more than a shuffle. He was not as coordinated as usual. It was heart wrenching to watch his once so dexterous surgeon’s hands struggle to button a shirt, zip a zipper, turn a door knob. He had been an athlete all his life- swimming laps, running miles, golfing rounds, always the one who could hang the Christmas lights, trim the shrubs, wash the cars. Seemingly suddenly, he struggled to just wash my car’s windshield, which he was insistent on doing since I had driven 1300 miles to visit them. He was generous like that, always protective of me and my safety while driving.
Mom was very protective of him and his energy. She complained a lot, sighed a lot. But he didn’t want us to know, so he kept his condition quiet until the last six months. Then he fell down one time too many and bleeding from the head was too alarming for her to keep it quiet. So my siblings and I made plans to visit, each one of us took time each month, starting with the retired brothers first.
So the end comes for everyone. We don’t know when, how, or how long anyone will suffer. Dad’s best friend Bill went in under an hour. He was walking, talking, golfing one morning. Then Bill fell ill at lunch, and was gone by dinner. Sometimes, just wondering how they will go, how many trips we have left with them, how many Thanksgivings or Christmases. How many phone calls do we have left? It is nerve-wracking to wonder and hopeless to think over. Mom had a very difficult time. She complained about her loss of sleep, his bathroom emergencies, and his feebleness. Her problems were many.
Survival Tip: The simplest answer, and yet the hardest to do: Be present and enjoy the moment. Let complainers complain. Let whiners whine. Live YOUR best life anyway and soak up the positive moments.