Tuesday, March 16, 2010

72 birthdays

My family went to Rochester for the afternoon Sunday. It was a lovely day for a drive-warm, sunny, and spring was in the air. I had made my Dad's favorite German chocolate cake, and held it on my lap for the 70 mile car ride. My mom used to bring lemon meringue pies to her father-in-law the same way, and also about 70 miles. Jiggle, jiggle, and you wonder whether it will make it there. She had the added concern that the meringue might fall! I just hoped the cake wouldn't slide on its glass foot!

Dad looked good but said he felt weak. We had good conversation, which turned into a few games of Scattergories and Apples to Apples. Dad opened his presents. We had wrapped a few simple things just to remember the day. One of them was a tiny 2gb memory card for the picture frame we gave them at Christmas. We had opened the package and loaded 45 recent (within the year) pictures of the family. We wrapped the little memory card seven times, each in a bigger box. It was silly but the kids and Grandpa seemed to enjoy it.

When it was his 70th birthday, we wrapped 70 of 10 different items, like 70 kernels of corn, 70 nails, 70 peanuts, etc.

The hardest part of the day for me was that Mom and Dad seem so sad. It's like life has stopped them cold. I can't help them with this attitude adjustment that's needed either. I wish I could remind them that Dad isn't dead yet, that they are so lucky, that Dad is still Dad, even if he doesn't DO the things he used to do, he still IS the man, my Dad. He said he doesn't think like he used to. He says it's so hard because he can't see right and doesn't get the information all straight inside, but he knows it's not right. I can only imagine how frustrating that is. I have no idea what it's like to have had cancer. I just know that it seems like they're waiting for him to die now. And it makes me grumpy, and then forlorn, and then pissed off, and then resigned. Everyone will handle adversity differently. My Mom and Dad were of the "Buck up, it could be worse" variety until this happened to them.

Where did their faith go? Their friends still stop over; they still get to their community events. They have stopped a lot of the more physical volunteer work they were doing. But I hear them focusing so much on what they've lost. What might their faith leader tell them? Could friends or family say the right thing? Are they just showing a brave front when I'm there and it's really bad when I'm not? I don't know. But I do know that to look at this man blowing out his candles, you might guess there was very little amiss. Look at the grin-there's still sense and smirk there.

Yes, their lives have changed-a lot. I wish I could bring it back, but the new reality is what is present is a gift. A tremendous gift in my opinion. Every day is a treasure for them to still be together.

I left wanting to yell at them and kick them in the ass. What a pretty picture, huh? I'm so mature.


  1. I see nothing at all immature in your words, which I found quite moving. You care - and that comes over loud and clear.

  2. Thanks, Alan, I debated posting this at all. I'm Scandinavian enough to deliberate any talk of "feelings". So kind of you to stop by!

  3. My mom has never frosted the edge of the German Chocolate cake, and I thought it was just because that would be a lot of frosting. Turns out that's the way to do it! Learned something new that day...


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