921efd8af2474a0462556c8235dfabbb

A TRIBUTE TO MY LOVING PARENTS

© October, 2012 Carol Castagna

 

“Darling, I am growing older – Silver threads among the gold – Shine upon my brow, today. Life is fading fast away. But, my darling you will be, will be – Always young and fair to me. Yes my darling you will be – Always young and fair to me…”. (Lyrics by Eben E. Rexford- Music by H.P. Danks, 1873) ….

Lyrics and dreams of years gone by – suddenly, we are growing old. Suddenly, without warning, without planning, our loved ones are the elderly in our care. Anxieties rise. Questions crowd our minds: “Can I give mom the best care and still maintain a career that I’ve worked long and hard hours to establish?” A single parent leaving for work at 6:30 a.m. asks: “Can I leave dad at home, alone, with the visiting nurse coming to assess her needs and staying only one hour out of the 12 when I am away?” “Is mom safe? Is she turning on the stove? Falling down the stairs? Walking in the road? Is it Alzheimer’s?” “Is it possible for me to place him/her in a skilled nursing facility?”

The guilt! The transition! The child inside of us – wanting them not to age, at all… wanting them not to die! In my own experience, I am lost in the shuffle, the shift, and all the changes for which I am grossly unprepared, emotionally. Dad was dying of cancer…

Ten short years after that, mom died of complications of Lewy-body Dementia. I was their only child. I lived with them, cared for them, brought them into my home to live with me, arranged for caretakers and other nursing care, sat with them, cooked for them, bandaged their invisible wounds, protected them…I did the best I could…in my mind, though, till today, I  feel I could have done more.  Even though I know intellectually, there was nothing else I could do, I only recently accepted that I really did my best.

I was tormented by the urgency to place my mom in a nursing home. Italian, adult children just do not do that…and furthermore, I did not want to place her. I wanted to take care of her: she was my mother. But Mom was in danger of harming herself and I was becoming physically and emotionally ill: there was no other choice. Dad remained in Hospice for one month: my mom held on to him till he breathed his last breath.

 

I remember their faces on the day of their 50th wedding anniversary celebration. With hopes still alive and high, with minds and bodies still intact, they received my gift, a love poem…

 

ROSE and GEORGE

50th ANNIVERSARY DIALOGUE

“Can this really be, George? Does it seem like yesterday?
That we first smiled at love – Began our journey on life’s way?

When hand in hand we strolled down Lover’s Lane, just you and me
And vowed that through the years our love as true as gold would be?”

“Well, Rosie, Doll, I think you’re right – No time it seems has passed
We’ve toiled and loved and dreamed and schemed
So fervent at our task.

That we first smiled at love – Began our journey on life’s way?

When hand in hand we strolled down Lover’s Lane, just you and me
And vowed that through the years our love as true as gold would be?”

“Well, Rosie, Doll, I think you’re right – No time it seems has passed
We’ve toiled and loved and dreamed and schemed
So fervent at our task.-

 

That suddenly we find that fifty years have rolled on by

Together we have known a love that nothing could defy.

We’ve shared the sunshine and the rain that this life brings to all
I’ve concluded firmly, ‘Only sunshine I recall.’

The sunshine of the rainbow-colored ribbons of our years

Embroidered joys so radiant, I can’t recall the tears.

“I love you more today, my Rose than words can ‘ere bestow
Because the love light in your eyes belongs to me alone”

“I love you more today, dear George than yesterday, t’is true
A friend, kind and warm, to walk life’s path I’ve found in you.

Now, life is laced with memories of our years together, dear
And hopes of bright tomorrows with your love, ever near…”

 

Life can truly seem to pass quickly when age and change leave the sunlight and love-light behind, in memory’s mist. How is it that age and change can ‘saunter’ by at such a swift pace? And we, as families are left to learn how to cope lovingly with all that surrounds our pain. Can we do this with dignity and integrity, with grace and style? Can we look at age during our middle years? Can we look ahead and plan and accept inevitable change in our parents and in ourselves? I don’t know.  I guess I thought that I had done just that…but I had not.  I was not prepared to lose them.  These were people I loved and they were dying.

Most of all, can we learn through tear-filled eyes, to take in what we never wanted to face…not an easy thing.  In the Lord’s strength, though, ‘we are more than conquerors.’

 

Passages of hope from the Holy Bible

Psalm 39:6  My hope is in you, Lord.

Psalm 42: 8  The Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime and in the night his song shall be with me.

Psalm 42:11  O my soul, why are you disquieted within me?  Hope in god:  for i shall yet praise him.  The help of my countenance and my god.

Psalm 103: 17  … The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting…

Ist Thessalonians 4:  13-18    Paul wrote:  “I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus.  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.  For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of god.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And thus we shall always be with the lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.”