The two of you sent a photo from David’s home in North Carolina last week. You’re 52 and 49 now, but the photo reminds me of a 1974 photo of curly headed four-year-old David holding six-month-old smiling Anthony with tender love. Almost fifty years later, the love remains, although there have been bumps in the road.
Your dad had few requests before his death, but one was that you stand together and treat each other with kindness. Love is scarce in this world and demands tending. Thanks for never giving up.
In the recent photo, David with your thick beard holds the camera for a grinning selfie with your brother. You wear a vest with a green logo for the beautiful disc golf course you created on your North Carolina land. Anthony, you lean toward your older brother and make a peace signal, one cheek flashing a dimple. I pray you two will always hold each other up.
After years of caring for my mother and your dad’s mother, I know the burden of caring for old people. I don’t want to do that to you, but who knows what my body and mind will do in coming years? I only know I’m not in charge.
I try to stay healthy, but Meniere’s Disease, hearing loss, and vertigo are erratic and exhausting and remind me of the truth every day. I’m not in charge.
Like many women, I feel a secret shame in growing old and not looking like the women on the cover of the AARP magazine. I wake up in the morning with a little groan. Oh, this spacy not quite in the body feeling of Meniere’s Disease is still here. I focus on my feet and feel my young dog Disco’s warm body at the foot of my bed. I roll and stretch to ease into the day. Then we go out for a morning walk.
I wish my old dog Willow could come upstairs like she used to, but most mornings I find her sleeping soundly, right where she was when I went to bed. She’s almost 14, another reminder that I’m not in charge.
The truth is the body breaks and keeps breaking. Eventually, I’ll need your help. I wish that weren’t true.
I’ll leave you with a lifetime of blessings born of parents who loved you and loved each other. In the realm of love, I’m still in charge. I remember your dad’s request powered by the knowledge of his coming death: “Love each other.”
I’m grateful as I watch you grant his wish. It’s my wish, too.
Does your family live close together or far apart? I remember going to my grandparents for dinner most Sundays, but that’s not possible for most of us now. How does your family handle the separation of modern life and stay in close communication? My hearing loss makes this an extra challenge for my family and friends, but I won’t give up.
For other posts about life with my sons see Grief Rituals Keep Our Family Love Alive. We were also able to give our sons the gift of spending time with the Dalai Lama when they were just little guys in 1979. I wrote about the Dalai Lama’s visit to our meditation center in When the Dalai Lama Blessed the Children.