When it comes to my life, I prefer a smooth and steady ride to a roller coaster.
But the irrepressible highs and poignant lows of the past weekend would have shocked the sensibilities of the most hardcore thrill seeker.
My brother’s oldest daughter married her sweetheart in a beautiful wedding ceremony and headed off to a honeymoon they have both dreamed of for years.
The happy couple received a mountain of presents from their friends and church families.
But I think the best gift my niece could receive has been given to her for her entire life. My parents have shown her and everyone else what a lifetime of love really is.
My father, who less than a month ago was working every day and volunteering more time when his jobs were done, has regressed to the point where he sleeps almost all day long. During his few waking minutes, he is fed a few bites of soft food and speaks about a dozen words.
There is little the medical profession can do to help my dad but I know he is still finding comfort in the love of his life who has been by his side for more than 55 years.
Dad rarely moves or responds when any of us speak to him. But his body that has been buffeted by a horrible condition that has rendered him practically motionless and almost unconscious still responds when his favorite girl speaks his name.
When mom talks, he perks up. He answers as best he can. And I think he feels better if only for a moment.
She feeds him now, bite after bite making sure he has what he needs. She has cooked almost every meal for him for his entire adult life and I know he gets disappointed when this woman who dazzles everyone who sits at her dinner table has to feed him hospital food. That is not how mom cooks and no one knows that better than dad.
When we got ready to take mom home from the hospital after spending the evening after the wedding with dad in his hospital room, mom wouldn’t leave the room without doing something she has done every night for five and a half decades. She reached up over the bedrail and kissed her husband goodnight.
He forced a quiet “bye” out as he drifted back to sleep. I hope he dreamed about the better times they have shared, at my sister’s beauty pageants, my brother’s sporting events and our family vacations. I hope his sleep took him back to trips they have shared through Alaska, Europe and all across America.
Page 2 of 2 - All he has now is a few words a day and the ability to lightly scratch his face with his right hand. When mom asks him if he is in pain, he answers with a convincing no.
I wish we could all say the same.
Watching my father who has done so much for so many rendered unable to even care for himself is almost more than I can bear.
But watching his reaction when he hears his wife speak to him and watching her care for him with every ounce of her strength is a lesson in love.
I hope Bethany and Chase understand that this is part of “for better or worse from this day forward.” I hope they learn to love each other the way my parents have as their home has grown from a couple of newlyweds, to a family including their three children, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
All signs point to the fact that God may be preparing to call my father to his eternal home. But, if and when He does, God will have to wrest him from the strong embrace of a woman who has held him tight during good times and bad.
Kent Bush is the Augusta Gazette Publisher, a columnist and blogger for the GateHouse Media Network. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.