Something new is wrong with Tom or maybe it's just the same old disease gnawing away at him. The "bad days" seem to come more frequently. The periods of weakness and nervousness visit on a regular basis. He needs more than the occasional help to do "adl's," otherwise known as activities of daily living. I continue to be the one who thinks if you know why a person does or says a particular thing, then you can work with them, help solve the problem. That frame of mind doesn't work with Parkinson's. Parkinson's devastates; it robs a person of functionality, whether it be physical, mental or both. It is difficult for the patient and for their loved ones.
Recently our daughter wrote of the difficulty in talking with her dad on the phone. He doesn't talk on the phone often, but when he does his voice is different; he doesn't sound like the strong person she's always known. She misses his strength; she misses him. Her honesty has made me admit and verbalize the things I miss about Tom. I, too, miss his strength, his control. The steadfastness, loyalty and love that is so much a part of him does not waver in his mind. Only now, he cannot take charge and care for those he loves as he would like to do. He can only think about what he would do if he could. We both know that we have one constant in our lives: the faithfulness of God. I cling to that, but I still cry.
Some of the things we had hoped to do together will never happen: the trip to Scotland, visiting the Bavarian Alps and Munich where he was stationed in the Army, returning to the Colorado Rockies and the Tetons in Wyoming, repeating our float trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon in Idaho. Instead of planning new trips, we enjoy remembering the places we've been and the experiences we've shared. Instead of packing our bags, we sit back and enjoy the Travel Channel. It's a lot cheaper and takes us places we would not have gone otherwise. We appreciate the wonder of creation around us.
Joy arrives with Elisa at 7:30 a.m. on school days. She comes in with a huge smile and keeps us smiling all day long. I will proclaim loud and long that absolutely no one ever loved or loves their children like I love our two, but I've discovered a difference in caring for them and for a grandchild. When my own children were babies, I had so many responsibilities in addition to caring for them that there didn't seem to ever be enough time to just enjoy them. Enjoying Elisa is a big part of every day she is here. Her parents think we're helping them by keeping her. Don't tell, but her presence in our daily lives gives us renewed purpose. It is she, who helps us. Tom can get up feeling bad, but responds when Elisa smiles and coos at him.
This is not retirement as we had planned. It is not the place we dreamed of spending our sunset years. In so many ways this is better. There is more good than bad. We have time to be still and be thankful, to reflect on the many ways we have been blessed. We have time to be involved in the lives of our grandchildren, both those around the corner and those miles away.
I covet your prayers for patience and discernment.