Monday, February 02, 2009

"Lucky"

Although the loss of my father has just devastated me and my siblings, it's obviously my mother who has been the most affected.

I knew my parents loved each other, I had no doubt about that. After almost 45 years of marriage, they were still very much a couple. They did everything together, went everywhere together, still held hands. But watching them the last month, dealing with my father's sudden, grave illness, it became so clear to me that with my father's passing, it wasn't only the end of a wonderful man's life. It was the end of a beautiful love story.

They were still so very much IN love.

As my brother mentioned to me recently, you often forget that your parents started out as a young couple themselves. Before they had children, they had each other. And after the kids flew the coop and grandchildren came along, they had each other still. My parents faced quite a bit of adversity trying to keep their relationship together in the early days. I've always known of the obstacles they faced from their families when they decided to marry. And yet they persevered, and built a family and a life together.

Sure, they bickered and they argued ... what couple doesn't? And my mother seldom understood the dry wit or the jokes that my father would tell at her expense (a cultural thing, perhaps ... or more likely Mom got it all along and just didn't let on). Mom wasn't too keen on some of the bad habits Dad had, but back in the day, everyone smoked, everyone drank ( Mad Men, anyone?).

During the last six weeks, my mother never left my father's side. She stayed by him in the hospital room, catching sleep on a cot next to him only an hour or two at a time, so that she would be there whenever he was awake, whenever he needed her. And whenever he awoke, he would look out for her first, before anyone else. She did everything for him; and he fought so hard for her.

I caught a glimpse of their special relationship one afternoon when I was helping out in Dad's room. Occasionally Mom would ask Dad a few questions, to make sure he was still alert or to confirm that he was awake. Holding hands, her face close to his, she asked him, "Who am I?"

To which Dad responded : "Somebody".

Mom replied: "Somebody? Somebody to who?"

Dad: "Somebody to someone. Somebody here to test me."

After a little laugh, Mom said again: "Who am I?"

Dad: "My Wife."

And Mom, with a little chuckle, threw this at him: "How many wives do you have?"

Dad deadpanned: "One.... SO FAR."

Mom just cracked right up.

And I turned my face to the wall so that they wouldn't see my tears welling up while I laughed with them.

*****

My mother is a strong woman. She realizes that this is part of the life cycle, and that she's in the next chapter of her life. We're trying to gather around her as much as we can, but she'd like us to get back to our normal lives. Whatever the new normal holds.

But one thing that I know for sure, that I have been a witness to in the last little while:

True love does exist. I've seen it with my very own eyes. I'm a product of it.

And I will be so lucky if, by the time we reach our post-40th wedding anniversary, my own marriage will still hold half of the love that my parents had for each other.
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23 comments:

Ginaagain said...

Karen, this was beautiful. You have written about your parents in the past and it was obvious that they were a happy couple. What a gift a loving marriage is, to each other and the children. You do have a very lucky family. You remain in my thoughts and prayers.

donna said...

Thanks for sharing that beautiful post.

Miss said...

Oh Karen... this is just so beautiful. Your parents were blessed to have each other and the love they shared lives on in you.

gmcountrymama said...

Okay,now my eyes are watering. I can only hope that I will be lucky enough to have my hus for so long.
It's great that you can be there for your mom.

Badness Jones said...

What a wonderful tribute to your parents and their love story. I still remember my grandfather saying that the smartest thing he'd ever done was marry my grandmother. They, too, were in love right up to the end.

Hugs to you.

xo Sarah

Xbox4NappyRash said...

Beautiful.

Domestic Goddess (In Training) said...

That is beautiful. I have a friend who died almost 4 years ago, and the saddest part was that his wife said she didn't know she still loved him until he was dead. It is wonderful that your mom can't say that!!!

Don Mills Diva said...

This is just gorgeous. A loving marriage is such a gift...

xoxo

April said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Karen.

Heather said...

This was beautiful! When my Papa passed away, my gram was lost for awhile.. They were very much like your parents, having been married for almost 56 years.. I still miss him very much. I can only hope my marriage will be just like that!

Lots of hugs to you!

Tara R. said...

That was a lovely tribute.

maggie's mind said...

Choked me up a bit. So glad that they were so in love, even if it makes it harder. My parents were together for almost 40 years when my mom died. To this day, I don't know how my dad manages, but somehow he does. And we do, too. And with time it's more of a dull ache under the surface instead of sharp pain screaming out, if that makes sense. Sending more hugs your way wishing I could do more.

Beck said...

This was a beautiful post. The hard thing about love is that it does lead to loss and grief, but to have a whole lifetime with someone who loves you - what can match that?
I'm so sorry for your loss.

Corrine said...

that was beautifully written and even more beautifully lived lives. Sorry about your loss.

Momisodes said...

That is the kind of love so many dream of and aspire to. You are all so blessed and remain in my thoughts and prayers.

Kat said...

This made me laugh and cry. I'm so sorry for your loss, but it is so refreshing and comforting to read about these beautiful moments. Thanks for sharing them.

abritdifferent said...

What a moving post. It made me smile, and well up. You know, you're totally right. When it comes down to it, all we have left in life is love and how much we've shared with others.

Thank you for sharing these moving, intensely personal moments. *Hugs*

pjmomof3boys said...

Wow, that was an amazing post—absolutely beautiful. I'm so sorry about your father, but it sounds like you have some incredible memories that will stay with you always, as well as some true inspiration for your own marriage. Your mom and dad's interactions touched me so much. Thank you for sharing.

MoziEsmé said...

What a sweet story. I love that conversation you shared...

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Lucky indeed. So glad your father had your mother in his last days. That your mother was able to be there for him, and for her. That you were able to witness it, and to grow up in a house full of love. You have suffered a great loss, but I'm glad that you also have a glimpse of how lucky you are.

dkuroiwa said...

Doesn't it feel great to laugh in the midst of all the sadness you feel? Keep that day and the conversation between your mom and dad in your heart and bring it out when you need to still feel sad, but in a lighter way.
I've found that those memories, after awhile, become sweeter and not so painful with time.

How lucky they were to have found "the one--the one true love" of their lives. May we all be so lucky.

C. K. said...

Oh.

I'm so sorry, Karen. Goodness.

Your parents had such a beautiful relationship.

melissa said...

my daughter, who is home sick, is looking at me curiously because...this post touched me so deeply that i'm sobbing!! they were so lucky. and you...were so lucky to have parents that love each other so much!!
hugs to you, my friend!!
xoxox

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