Last Monday, my family celebrated my daddy’s 85th birthday. It was a milestone in more ways than one. Less than a month ago he was on death’s door convinced he’d never make it out of the hospital. It put the whole family on edge but Monday we were together and celebrating life.
It was another great memory to cherish. It was also a time when even the youngest were truly thankful that their great-granddaddy was still with them. So we ate loads of Chinese food, laughed, talked and watched the kids go up and down the field on the riding mower. It was life at full-throttle and just what we all needed after our scare with daddy.
If we don’t take time to appreciate what we have right now, then our opportunity for happiness can pass us by. We could have focused on the fact that this might be daddy’s last birthday, but we didn’t. We just enjoyed each other. There will be time to grieve. While he’s here, it is not now.
The other day, daddy was feeling a bit low and told me he wanted me to be prepared because he might not be here very long. I said, “Fiddlesticks. I’ve had enough of that. You’re not dead yet and besides there is absolutely no way I can prepare to be without you. I haven’t known life without you yet.”
What I can do is remember and be thankful. I can cherish the moments I have with both my parents. I can talk to my kids and grandkids about truly valuing our relationships. I can tell them how much I love them and I do, every time I see them. You might not think they listen. You might not think your words will sink in, but they do.
When my oldest granddaughter was a baby, I taught her to blow me a kiss each time we parted. She’s 11 now and since her momma went back to college I’m the one who picks her up from school. The first time I dropped her off she headed for the front door, but then turned around. She gave me a huge smile and then blew me a kiss. It was just a tiny gesture but it brought tears to my eyes.
In the end, it is the small things we’ll remember. It’s the small things we will cherish. Like daddy saying, “I love you Angel.” Like momma saying “You take care of yourself.”
This year was very special but I truly hope there will be many more times to share with my parents and the family. But it doesn’t matter how many days we get in the future for me to appreciate all the ones that came before.
I’m concentrating now on the positive. Love means cherishing, appreciating, and even forgiving with my whole heart. Life’s too short to think about the bad things. I can turn the nightly news on should I have a hankering for that, but I don’t think I will.
Caregiving is work, stress and sometimes sleepless nights. But when the job is done, each one of you will know you did what you could to make your loved one’s last years the best they could be. God Bless you for that.