I am fortunate enough to know many of my cousins on my Mom’s side of the family. I know and I consider myself close to my Aunts, Uncles, 1st cousins, 2nd cousins, 3rd cousins, etc. Before dying, my Great Aunts, Great Uncles, and Grand Parents were part of my life, too.
A little family history for you – my grandmother had a brother. My grandmother and her brother got married (to different people – not each other), had kids, and grew older. Then my grandmother’s brother died. Then my grandmother died. Years later, their spouses ended up marrying each other after their death. So, my 2nd cousins became Step-Aunts and Step-Uncles. Pretty neat, eh?
Last Spring, I started exercising regularly. My boss gave me her old iPhone to use as an iPod. Access to music while walking not only increased my distance, but the music increased my speed, too.
One song I listened to over and over again was Silent House by The Dixie Chicks. The song speaks to the pain and sorrow that is felt when a family member is mentally slipping away from us as they battle Dementia or Alzheimers.
Now the motivation behind the exercising was to get in shape for our family trip to the Shore in Nova Scotia. I was going to see my Aunts, Uncles, cousins, and friends – folks I had not seen in several years.
Summer 2012 was a special summer, because my Mom was celebrating her 80th birthday, and my Uncle, one of my Mom’s brothers, was probably going to experience the Shore for the last time. You see, my Uncle has Alzheimers.
So, while exercising and getting into shape for our trip, I was thinking about my Uncle and looking forward to the time I was going to spend with him. When the song Silent House played, I started writing a post in my head about my Uncle and “Step-Aunt”, who is battling Dementia.
Inspired and motivated, I contacted my cousins, and I asked them to send me pictures of my Aunt and Uncle, so I could put together a video. I received the pictures, and I started writing.
Then I stopped. It was time to head to the Shore and spend time with family.
The summer at the Shore was beyond special. Everyone there made a point to milk every moment for all it’s worth. At 3pm every day, my Uncle would sit out on the deck of “The Big White Cottage”. The instant he came out, the crowds started to gather. All of us – sitting together, enjoying the time – together. My “Step Aunt’ joined us, too, always sitting next to my Uncle. This time was precious – bittersweet – wonderful.
When my summer vacation ended and I returned home, I was saddened by the sense of loss already filling the air. The sadness weighed heavily on me, so I put the post on the shelf. I was no longer motivated to share – to remember – to pay tribute.
Fast forward to today. My Uncle is now in a VA Hospital where he will spend his final days. *He may have days left, he may have weeks left, or he may have months left. No one really knows. All we know is the fact that before slipping away mentally, he let his feelings known about resuscitation and feeding tubes, not wanting either one. So he lies in waiting, so to speak. He is bedridden, with an IV and receiving small doses of morphine.
When he was admitted to this form of hospice, Facebook lit up with pictures of him. My siblings, my cousins, we all posted our favorite pictures of our Uncle/Dad/Cousin. After all, this man is a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a great grandfather. This man has lived, camped, hiked, built cabins, built bridges, played sports, etc.
The pictures relighted the spark in my heart. It was time to get the post written, and it was time to put the video together.
It is time to try to connect all the pieces you left. It is time to carry it on and let you forget. We’ll remember the years when your mind was clear – how your laughter and life filled up what will become this silent house.
Thank you, Uncle D and “Step Aunt” M, for everything.
* Uncle D passed away around 6pm ET today, February 8th.