Meaning From Nothing

beauty meme

The words sad and frustrating come to mind when dealing with my dad, a once brilliant scientist and man of superb rational thought, whose face now scrunches with bewilderment when I enter his home as his sluggish brain tries to piece together who I am and why I’m there. Sometimes he’s successful, more often than not he isn’t and the pain cuts deep.

It’s a strange place to be, the daughter who always looked up to her dad as a constant source of guidance and strength, who now gets to be the parent. Such a common circumstance in our society, yet odd beyond measure when it hits close to home.

Slowly explaining to the man who taught me to ride a bike and tie my shoes how a tuna sandwich gets made is not something I enjoy. Yet I do it with a smile, hoping it’s enough to hide my jumble of pent up emotions and deep feelings of inadequacy.

Hard to explain where that comes from. I love my dad and know he loves me but we have always struggled with a wall of distance between us. In a weird way our relationship now is more intimate, as the disease that eats away at his brain also punctures our respective emotional protective barriers that were long ago hardened in place. Vulnerability is welcome here in this new spot and love more easily flows.

I will always regret not pursuing this closeness more aggressively earlier on and it almost makes this new intimacy seem contrived, somehow undeserved. It doesn’t really matter. It’s time now to reciprocate back all that my dad has done for me, a tremendous task that’s impossible to pay back in full.

I also think of my mom who is still very with it mentally and physically and who deserves a hero award for repeating a thousand times daily the patient acts of kindness that goes in to his care taking. It breaks my heart to think of the vibrant intellectual life they once shared and what it now resembles; she constantly reminding him of life’s rules, “brush your teeth”, “don’t forget your pills” and “no, showering is not optional”, and he pushing back until finally caving like a child who realizes fighting will get him no where.

Such is the circle of life and to struggle over where that circle begins and ends is really pointless. The importance of the here and now takes precedence and the honor of caring for a loved one in their most vulnerable moment is truly a gift. Realizing this amidst the muck and yuck of hot emotions is the only way to stay sane.

And really there is some joy in this too, especially in watching my siblings step up to contribute, each in their own way; with all our unique personality traits fitting perfectly to the task at hand. We’ve become closer as a result and more aware I think of our respective value to each other and our parents. My dad was an amazing man before the dementia but I think especially so afterwards, as the family he created rallies together to deal with this new normal of absurdity.

We are fortunate beyond belief to all have each other and the financial resources to deal with this situation as best we can, something my dad made sure of.  I am absolutely certain he knew a time like this would eventually come and made sure the logistics were in place for us to set in motion.

Life is always precious, no matter the physical or mental condition of the body. Who are we to assign less value to a man because his mind is failing and his legs are weak? To judge the road one is forced to take as not fair and unjust? A painful and probably undeserved journey yes, but one loaded with blessings if you give up control and acknowledge there is a bigger plan being worked out here, a higher purpose you are assigned a sacred role in.

”For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways.” I take great comfort in that.

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40 Responses to Meaning From Nothing

  1. You’re a gem, Trish, and your family is a treasure too. I hope you continue to bond even stronger in the times to come. It’s so much better when that’s the way it can be. God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Al says:

    In writing about this most difficult situation, you have literally turned the absurd into the sublime. What a wonderful attitude for approaching the heartbreak that goes with dementia. I lost my brother at a relatively young age to early onset Alzheimers. It is tragic. Bless you for what you are doing for him and for your mother.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wally Fry says:

    Hey Tricia

    That is very touching and sad, but yet uplifting at the same time. Sometimes it’s a struggle with our children. I suspect I relate to my kids in much the same way your Dad did with you. I tended to be quite overbearing and demanding of them. Worked out great in their lives, as they are both very self sufficient, but sadly the relationship part is sort of lacking. And honestly, I don’t know if we will ever put it back together. I do, however, thank God every day that God gave me another family to raise and is showing my how to do it much better this time.

    Great post, and prayers for you and you Father as he goes through this and you are with him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Thanks Wally I really appreciate your thoughtful response and you sharing a personal story about your own relationship with your kids. It took me a long time to finally realize that being a bit overbearing and teaching me how to be self sufficient was his way of loving me. I so appreciate that now and I bet your kids do too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. ColorStorm says:

    It would be difficult after having read this to not appreciate that your Dad must have been a box of blessing; and still is. Mom too.

    Great family.

    This was awesome on so many levels tricia; the Creator and sustainer of life gives us all a different hand; many others have complained or folded for lesser reasons, yet you prove your hand is strengthened. Again, so well stated. Beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      A box of blessings, I like that ColorStorm and yes, I am so thankful for for my wonderful family. So many people don’t have that or even worse have awful toxic people to deal with. I really lucked out. Thanks friend for your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ColorStorm says:

        This was seriously well thought out and I imagine some of the words were written through misty eyes in the room……….

        But your title ‘meaning from nothing,’ suggested ‘everything’ of worth.

        I hope you can print out your post here trish, and pass along to your family. Paper in hand is so much more valuable than reading a link, as good as it is for some of us 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • Tricia says:

          That’s a great idea ColorStorm and again thank you. You know it’s interesting, I sent my mom a link to the post last night telling her I would take it down if she felt it violated her and my dad’s privacy, as I hadn’t thought of that before publishing. I really hesitated before sending it though as I don’t go out of my way to share my blog with family members (those pesky emotional barriers) but something kept urging me to. She responded back that she was so completely touched by what I wrote and glad I was able to express a lot of what she’s going through. It brought me to tears but in a happy way. God truly works in amazing ways.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Chris Warren says:

    I appreciate real-life articles about real-life situations and how people find a way to work through them. I am posting this article on the Twenty First Summer Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/twentyfirstsummer

    Liked by 1 person

  6. madblog says:

    I find myself in precisely the same situation with my mom. My siblings and I have created a schedule so that she is accompanied 24/7 and it’s gone remarkably smoothly. My Dad passed away almost 30 years ago and my Mom has been fiercely self-sufficient (til last December) and so this “care” of ours is not totally welcome; at the same time she fails to see how much she needs it. One truly does become like the parent.
    God continue to grant you grace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Oh, I’m sure sorry to hear that madblog about your mom. It’s difficult, isn’t it? Sounds like you and your siblings are doing the right things. I know exactly what you mean about the help not being wanted. My dad thinks he’s completely fine, just going to a doctor’s appointment can be quite the battle! Much grace to you as well.

      Like

  7. jncthedc says:

    Your current experience is one I have recently concluded. The failing mental and physical capacity of my mother lasted for 10 years as my nearly 90 year old father contended with it better than most people would have been able to. The relationship with the challenged parent seems to transition and quickly seem to move past any differences or hurt that was part of the past. The present goal is to find any joy and comfort we can provide. The interaction that existed when we were children no longer remains. It is now simply filed in our past memories. It is difficult on everyone, yet rather than complain or yield to anger and frustration, we simply smile and hope this simple gesture creates a happy moment for our parent.
    I am so sorry for the situation you and your family are going through. I wish for you all the happiness you can find and bring to the soul of a man that has helped you become the woman you are today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      I remember you mentioning your mom passing away and again I’m so sorry. And thank you so much for your voice of experience here of someone whose traveled further on down the road I’m on. I really like you stressing the present goals of joy and comfort as opposed to trying to hold on to the past. That’s exactly where I’m at and didn’t realize this until I read your comment. Really helpful.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Just beautiful, so well said.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. archaeopteryx1 says:

    I’m so sorry, Tricia.

    I loved my Dad, but he had to work, and my Grandfather no longer did, so he had a lot of time to spend with me. He was tall and strapping well into his 70’s, with a lot of patience with mischievous little boys and a great sense of humor – I worshiped that old man. As he aged, two things happened, he developed dementia, and his legs and feet held water, so that he was no longer mobile. His last year, I was 13 and he was 83 – I was helping him from the bathroom, his arm around my back and mine around his when he looked at me and asked – “And who are you?” I explained to him I was his daughter’s son and he shook his head knowingly, but it was obvious he had no idea what I meant. He died later that year, but we had lost him long before that.

    Each of my parents went quickly, no lingering illness – my heart goes out to all three of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Thank Arch, I appreciate the kind words. And thanks for sharing your story about your grandpa. It sounds like he was real special to you and it must have been devastating to deal with his dementia and physical ailments at such a young age.

      Like

  10. Julie says:

    Thank you for your vulnerability Tricia. You expressed your heart beautifully.

    When my grandpa developed dementia toward the end of his life, my dad called it a tender mercy. He said it was God’s way of softening the blow. Perhaps because it’s too hard to say goodbye to a brilliant mind all at once – vibrant one minute, gone the next. I think about that sometimes and I’m sure there are pros and cons. My guess is that it is much harder on the family than it is on the patient. And it is no doubt very difficult if the dementia is early onset or if it lingers on.

    I tip my hat to God for bringing your family closer together and for all the resources He has provided you.

    I tip my hat to you for honoring your dad and for choosing to allow these seeds of suffering to grow Love.

    The Lord bless you and keep you and your dad and make His face shine upon you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Oh thank you Julie for your kind words and prayers. I like what your dad says about softening the blow, it makes a lot of sense. I agree too that once the dementia gets beyond a certain point, things are harder for the families than the patient. Thanks for coming by.

      Like

  11. Denyse Laird says:

    I am so sorry about your Dad, Tricia. We went through the same thing with my Father, quite a few years back. Same thing, brilliant man, went to the best school in Paris, years ago. He never talked much, but if you asked him any questions he could explain just about anything to you. He even was able to help Jacques with his engineering homework when he was going to the University in California.. can feel for you and especially for your mother. I am sure all of you are giving her the support she needs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Oh thanks Denyse, so very much. And yes, I remember Pierre suffered from Alztheimer’s and I always wished I had gotten to know him better before it struck. My mom said the same thing you did about him, that he was quite brilliant. Quiet of course but nothing wrong with that.

      Like

  12. archaeopteryx1 says:

    The words sad and frustrating come to mind when dealing with my dad, a once brilliant scientist and man of superb rational thought

    That is certainly where you acquired your liberal thought processes – you can honor his memory by using those to the best of your ability.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. paula says:

    Wow, thank you for sharing. Brought me to tears. You are so lucky to have your sibs close to your parents. My parents are both afflicted with dementia, mom took the other road and is not so nice. My sister is earning a gold star as she is the 24/7 caregiver, having left her life to take care of mom & dad. She must assure Dad that she is not leaving them, as he sees Mom’s condition and knows they need help. Its very hard being on the other side of the country and hear her pain of watching them age, knowing that I may or may not see them again. Also miss my sister terribly, selfish on my part, but I cannot help it. Xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tricia says:

      You’re welome Paula and thank you for sharing your ordeal as well. Both parents? I can’t imagine how difficult that must be. And your sister sounds like a saint. It must be extremely tough for you too being so far away. It’s not selfish of you to miss your sister, just human, right? Much peace and comfort to you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Citizen Tom says:

    Reblogged this on Citizen Tom and commented:
    I suppose this reblog does not match the usual content of my blog. Nevertheless, I think it is important to remember that Christianity is about loving God, and we prove we love God by loving each other. We begin to learn how to love by caring for the people closest to us.

    Politics is about how a People regulates relationships between community members. When a People remembers that the goal is to strive for loving relationships (and justice is required for that), then their political system can serve to help members of the community to love each other. On the other hand, if a People, each of the members of a community, thinks politics is about satisfying personal wants, there is only one logical result. That is tyranny.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. A very moving post Tricia. So glad you and your siblings can support each other. I was in this very situation with my mom, before she passed away 4 years ago. She was blessed with a long life, and had a deep faith. Even though she struggled with who we were, old hymns would really calm her. it was when my wife was quieting singing hymns with her, that she peacefully departed from this earth.

    May God bless you Tricia, and give you strength on a daily basis. It can so difficult for you. Your acts of kindness towards your dad is HUGE. You are giving him dignity, and showing him he is so much loved and has great worth.

    Thank you for sharing from your heart. It was really beautifully written. 🙂

    ~Carl~

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Thank you so much Carl, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your words. I’m sorry about your mom too, I guess this is a scenario which is becoming more common as life spans expand. Sounds like you and your wife were able to support and guide her through to the very end.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Tricia. My wife really is great. When I went to college for social service work, my volunteer work placement ended up on a dementia word of a long term care faculty. At the time, I would have preferred my placement anywhere but, but I knew there had to be a reason.

        It was a very learning and growing time for me. Some dementia patients, you would NEVER EVER see family members. Almost like the mom or dad was abandoned. It was very heartbreaking to witness. And there were family members like yourself that really showed love and care. One gentleman would go in and just hold his wife’s hand for hours.

        And there was a reason. Mom’s dementia set in not long after I graduated. As well as not able to find a job after I graduated, I was able to be with my mom a lot of time. Now that Mom is gone, I am so glad I had that time with her. At the time, I did not understand why I got this particular placement, why I became unemployed. Now it all made sense.

        And Tricia, many things just do not make sense. Thank you SO MUCH for doing what you are doing. You are an amazing human being! 🙂

        ~Carl~

        Liked by 1 person

        • Tricia says:

          Oh Carl, what a wonderful story. I am a firm believer that there are no coincidences in life, things do indeed happen for a reason and you had gone through what you needed to go through to deal properly with your mom’s illness and be there for her. I do some volunteer work at nursing homes and I couldn’t agree more that it is just heart breaking to see the ones that no one ever visits. Thanks again for your kind words and support, I much appreciate it.:)

          Liked by 1 person

  16. Best wishes as you continue to pursue this sadly too-common adventure. You are approaching your father’s situation with great heart and grace, and learning much of yourself while losing a bit of him at the same time.

    Loss can be gradual, or it can be sudden; most of us are intimately familiar with each sort but it remains hard to say that one is “better” than another. Still, such things are not within our control.

    May peace and comfort enfold you and those you care for.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tricia says:

      Well thank you Keith for your kind words and insight, much appreciated. It sounds like you are familiar with this type of loss as well, something that as you say is all too common. Thanks for coming by and the follow.

      Like

      • Well, yes. If you are interested, Google[DeHavelle loss] and that story from last year is the first hit. In short, taking my Lady out for a nice dinner resulted in her death and my being wheelchair-bound.

        But the experience has made me more keenly appreciate what is left, and to treasure the memories much as you are doing now. You would not choose this fate, nor would I. But your approach to your parents and the new situation has clearly inspired many, and that you have been able to work through old wounds and find healing gives an example to live up to.

        Best wishes.

        ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: To Take a Life-Part 2 | Freedom Through Empowerment

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