Today was a busy day. Dear Husband (DH) had to go into work, so Boy Wonder and I went up to see Grandpa.
Seeing Grandpa is a 30 minute drive, but so worth it. Boy Wonder loves looking at trees, and if there were snow in California I’d say the road was made for the song “Over the River and Through the Woods.”
I love bringing BW to Grandpa’s for several reasons. One of which is I love talking with Dad. He’s a very intelligent, thoughtful man and I have never come across a topic that I could not talk to him. Ever. Even though he is an Elder in our church. Another reason is that BW gets to run wild in the back yard. The rain held off, and boy howdy did he run. He Swiffered the back patio and grass until not a speck of dirt remained. Ran this way and that. Generally had about as much fun as a 2 year old can.
It also afforded me time to talk with Dad. Since the death of his wife a few weeks ago, I’ve talked to him about twice a day and seen him on Sunday at church. But to really get a good idea of where he was at, I needed the conversation today. Sitting on the patio, holding hands with Daddy, watching Boy Wonder run wild… We talked.
He is handling his grief probably just about right. Dad says he should probably trim the rose bushes because they need it, but he can’t bring himself to do it. I offered, thinking that maybe it had to do with his back or something. “No,” he said and I could hear the tears in his voice, “She loved them so much, I can’t do it. Jane used to always say that some women get a bouquet or two of roses from their husbands, but her husband gave her a whole yard bursting with flowers.” As we spoke, with only an occasional jump up to grab a certain curious 2 year old, I could feel Dad trying to get back to being ok, even though it will be a tough, lonely road.
We talked of things that happened both with my mom (married from 1944? until her death in 1993), and with Jane (married to her since 1994). He loved doing things with both of his wives, loved traveling and seeing new things. He has a monster of a motor home, and no where to take it. Because it would “just be too lonesome to do those things alone, now.” Right before each of their deaths, he was making plans for when the felt better—Where they would go, what they would see. Only, with this most recent loss, I believe he knew where the chips were going to land.
That’s not to say that he’s not grieving now. Or that he’s practicing “grief light.” Just that he started grieving in a different way a long time ago. Grieving for the relationship, for the things that they used to do, the life they led. To care for someone with a terminal illness takes a very special person. To do that and still allow them to have hope, and plans for the future: I can’t imagine the strength that took.
Tears have been shed. Some today, some last week at church when the closing hymn was “God be with you till we meet again.” I hope he knows that God is with him. That all of us kids would do anything we could for him. That both Mom and Jane want nothing but the best for him, and expect nothing less from him.
He’s a very good Daddy.