Friday, March 15, 2013

A brief respite

I was away on the boat for a few days this week.  It was windy and chilly, but it felt so good to get out on the water.  I have written here many times that being on the boat restores me and lifts my spirits.  It's simply magical to have a place where the wind in the rigging is music and the gentle rocking lulls me to sleep.  

When I come back home, I can feel the sadness overtake me.  My wife has taken the death of her mother and the continued care of her father with grace, but I know how sad she is.  She has struggled with depression on and off for as long as I have known her.  Her way of keeping those demons at bay is to stay busy, go to meetings, read and tend to her garden.  I want to see her happy, but realize that is something I can't make happen for her.  So we talk and share our thoughts, love each other, and derive comfort in our closeness.  

The memorial service for Mom is tomorrow.  We have not been able to meet with the Monseigneur yet, as he has been busy with church activities.  Hopefully, we will get to meet him before the service tomorrow.  I'm a bit unnerved by not knowing him, but have had to let this go and simply trust that all will be okay.  We chose beautiful music, green buds of lilies for the altar, and a tall vase of spring flowers for the little table where photos of her will be. 

Sadly, Pop continues to decline, and isn't well enough to attend the service.  He fell twice last week and now has to be strapped in his wheelchair.  He mostly wants to stay in bed.  I was thinking about how sad it is that he is spending his last days in anger and depression, not wanting to talk to anyone or be around others.  He doesn't talk to my wife, even when she attempts to talk to him.  Yet, he can tell the nursing home staff that he wants to go to his room.  

Alcoholism truly is a disease of the body, mind and spirit.  I hate what the disease does.  I hate how it tells a person that he/she is not good enough, fills them with self-centered fear, and isolates them from those who care.  Pop hasn't much time left, but seems to want to remain angry and isolating right up to the end.  I know that there is nothing that we can do, except tell him we love him.  My wife says that she has stopped expecting anything from him.  I still have hope, but realize that after all these years, a mere thing like dying is not likely to change his demeanor or way of relating to others.  

I realize that his anger and his wanting to be alone are not caused by us.  But every time we visit, it is with a heavy heart. Our visits are short and not every day because neither of us wants to spend much time around someone who exudes so much anger.  

I am including here the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi which will be part of the memorial service and is also the Eleventh Step prayer that my sponsor and I said together.  I hope that I can live these words. 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen


  1. i hope the service goes well tomorrow....and sorry pops is still declining and so angry....its so hard you know....glad you got away for a bit though...

  2. Thank you for sharing your life on this blog. I am very sorry for your loss. Your Pop must be in so much pain, maybe he can not be anything but angry and grumpy and alone. I really apprciate reading this and your pictures are wonderful. You made ME grateful today.

  3. St. Frances' prayer is so awesome - probably my favourite collection of words. Your boat is beautiful, those gleaming dorade vents and boxes...really classic! It's March in Canada and my eye is starved for marine eye-candy!

    All the best to both of you. All of this will pass and better times are ahead.


  4. Syd - I am so grateful that you found the time to write your blog for today - the Ides of March. Your message was very tender, poignant, sad, and also hopeful. I have put you and C into my Higher Power's hands, and please know that I have joined you there. I will be spiritually in attendance at tomorrow's Memorial of Ms Hilda.

    One small reminder - We are powerless over people, places and situations in regards to the F-I-L. Who knows; perhaps he is keeping a ferocious looking demeanor on the outside, while tenderly grieving privately inwardly. Some people use this 'tack' to keep well-meaning visitors at a good arm's link. I will keep him in my God box.

    Somehow, it seems appropos that her final farewell would be during the Lenten season, and only 1 week before the Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday.

    Hearing you speak of making the arrangements, has brought back some very tender memories of being part of the music at church, which I loved dearly.

    God bless you both!
    Love and hugs,

    Anonymous #1

  5. Such a shame that your FIL is keeping out your wife and you, when he could be comforted instead. You two are good to keep visiting, but it's also good that you know and respect your limits. I hope the service brings you and C. some peace.

  6. I wear a silver mobious bracelet with the Prayer of St. Francis engraved on it....It is one of my favorite things.
    I am so sorry about that "the dad" is so unhappy. It is my thinking that if someone in their last months and weeks on earth want to stay in bed, they should be allowed to do so. Their bodies are slowing down, telling them what to do now....I believe in honoring what the body is telling him to do and allow it to lead the process.
    Poor C...walking so bravely it sounds like but carrying such a weight. I hope the service is a beautiful testimony to her mom and a time that C can let her go and be at peace that her mom is at rest now. ((HUG)) to you both.

  7. Such a difficult and sad time Syd -- my thoughts will be with you around the funeral. The arrangements sound so beautiful and moving, like that prayer of St Francis of Assisi.

    And I do hope your FIL makes some effort, some gesture of reconciliation. But you are right that the closed-offness, fear and bitterness can last a lifetime. And there may be some neurological condition or dementia-related delusional thinking that leaves him unable to respond in a positive way.

  8. I am glad you posted the complete St. Francis prayer, Syd. We read the first part in our 11th Step meetings on Sunday but I have always loved it when read in full. I hope that the service will go well tomorrow.
    Can C go out on the boat with you ... does she get the same relief that you do by doing so?

  9. The prayer from St. Francis is one I need to pray, daily. My mother is in the early stages of dementia. I'm not sure about my dad. He has such anger at all his children and is isolating he and my mom. I'm afraid this may be a sign of dementia, as well. I live 1000 miles away and just can't be sure. I need to pray.

  10. Syd, I am thinking of you and C. today as you attend your MIL's funeral. I hope it is a comfort to both of you.

  11. Thinking you you and C today. Sending peace. The only thing I hope for you is that amidst the service you find a place to smile, a place to laugh, and a place to shed a tear.

  12. Keeping you and C and her dad in my prayers for you on Saturday.

  13. My thoughts and prayers are with you all--you, C, and her father. My father died with such serenity that I know he had a great spiritual breakthrough during his last year of decline although he never voiced it. The tragedy is that he had all those years he missed being in Heaven on earth. But, for him, it was not knowing that he was worth the gift of grace.I always say that recovery is free but it isn't cheap.

  14. Nice post. You really know how to express yourself. I'm reading a book on anger. It says that anger is caused from unmet needs. I wonder what his are. Peace


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