"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

06 May 2010

Being with My Daddy

It’s been both hard and very gratifying to be here with my parents. Daddy has known me since I’ve arrived; there’s been no hesitation at all about that. Sometimes he has been so asleep that we can’t wake him enough to talk at all. When he is awake, he has trouble speaking clearly (we assume he is continuing to have small undiagnosed strokes), and it can be extremely frustrating for all of us to try to communicate. However, some of our times together he has been remarkably lucid and articulate (considering, of course, his overall condition with dementia and stroke). This afternoon was one of those times.

“I love you” are words he always says with crystal clarity; today he said them many times. When I told him that I think of him all the time, he said “I think of you all the time, too”; then, “I think of you in more ways than you can imagine.” As we continued to talk about our love for each other, he said, “I know you love me, and I love you, and Jesus loves us all, too.” And we talked about family – the love within a family – and he said, “good families are good people and raise good kids.”

I told him that he and Mother had certainly always loved us (my brother, Mike, and me) well, then teased a bit, saying I couldn’t say the same about Mike; big brothers and baby sisters don’t always get along. He said, “You’ll always be that.” “Mike’s baby sister?” I asked; “You’ll always be,” he said; “you can’t catch up with him.” (His “baby sister” is 81 and that’s what he still calls her, too.)

When I leaned down and hugged him, he said, “I appreciate that.” A little later, I leaned down again to put my head against his chest, and he lifted his hand and put it on my head, patting my hair with his fingertips; he didn’t want me to sit up and held my hand tightly for a long time after I did. Today (and a couple of days ago as well), he stared at me for a long time, silently, Mother saying he seemed to be memorizing my face; then he told me, “You’re pretty” – words no girl is ever too old to hear from her daddy.

A conversation about pictures came about because K had our camera with him and Daddy noticed it. Daddy talked about taking pictures (he and Mother took a lot over the years) and said something in question form about “where and why”; when I said, “why did you take so many pictures? So we can remember it all,” he grinned that same old grin that’s always characterized his happy, a bit mischievous mood.

When we left, he told us, “I’ll be here when you get back.”


Marcy Froemke said...

How beautiful and meaningful are these times with your dad, Beth. It both brightens my heart and brings tears to my eyes . . . We grow up with our parents, seeing their youth and vitality mature into wisdom, experience, grace, and sometimes cussedness! And then come the final days, when we know the time together in this life is short. The poignancy and grief is tempered by treasured memories, sweet messages of love, and the hope of joining these beloved ones again, when we will all be restored to the brilliance God has welded into our souls. I rejoice and sorrow with you as you and your dad fill these final days with quiet celebration of lives lived well.
Much love,

eutychus said...


Lucindyl said...

I had tears in my eyes by the end of the first sentence. What a gift these days have been for the two of you. How very loved you are by both of your F(f)athers!

alaiyo said...

Thank you all!

Kamilla said...


How lovely! Thank you for sharing your daddy with us.


Lutestring said...

This is so beautiful and overflowing with the most profound warmth. This is something that will make the reader cry easily - I know I teared up.

I love the paragraph about you resting your head on your daddy. And how often he says "I love you". And how younger siblings never catch up. :) How he tells you you are pretty. It is all wonderful.

Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your life in the way you do best - these gentle words.

Much love to you, beautiful and beloved lady. And your family. <3

alaiyo said...

Thanks for your encouragement; I love to share my wonderful daddy!

barn swallow said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. As the others have already said--how beautiful!

It's interesting, isn't it, how love stays strong and steady while other things are shaken. Your dad's words to you are such a gift. They are like treasures, aren't they? I marvel a bit at how people experiencing so much physical trouble can give out words which remain for years as a precious element of someone else's life. It must be a special grace which lets them do that.