I’m the baby of five children with eleven years separating me from the youngest of my siblings. You can rest assured that I’ve been asked at least fifty-eleven times if I was a mistake. The short answer is no. Have you ever known me to stop with the short answer? Okay, so you know that this time is no different and you know that I have a story to tell.
My grandfather, my Mom’s dad, was an electrician, and they moved around quite a bit. When they lived in Kentucky though, they lived about a block and a half away from where my dad grew up. My mom and my dad went to the same school during those years and walked the same sidewalks and my dad thought my mom was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. I wish I had a dollar for every time I made my mom tell me this story. She was so very shy. She knew that Dad had a crush on her and so she would see him coming and she would cross the street to the opposite sidewalk to try to avoid running into him. Lord knows that every socially awkward statement that has ever come out of my mouth was the exact reason my mother opted to go with avoidance. I regret nothing. I wish.
By high school, my mother was living in Michigan and my dad was in a military boarding school. Their lives had moved in totally different directions. Mom graduated from high school and got married. Mom had four children in a very short period of time. Which is why when I say she was always the most patient person alive, I can speak with confidence. Dad joined the Army, got married and when the Vietnam War began he found himself in Japan.
Then the unthinkable happened. My mother’s first husband was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. My mother was a widow and my siblings had lost their father. I can’t imagine what that time was like for my mother but she ended up packing up her four young children and moving back to Kentucky. Around the same time, my dad was newly divorced and also making his way back to Kentucky…
So this is NOT where I’m going to pretend that their marriage was magical or perfect or even hard in the way that every marriage is hard because I don’t think that would be accurate or fair. I think it was pretty difficult. But I also think that my mom really, really, really, loved my dad, (and I know she still does), and I know that my dad really, really, really, loves my mom and always has.
Dad is in the hospital. It’s becoming the norm lately. I guess that’s how it is when you have stage four cancer. I have sat with him through appointment after appointment and over and over I have heard doctors ask him what he wants. What his expectations are. What his concerns are. What questions he has. Over and over I have heard his answers begin with, “My wife has Alzheimer’s…”
Tonight was no different. The cardiologist asked him if he wanted them to try to resuscitate him if he coded and Dad began with his usual, “My wife has Alzheimer’s.” Then he continued with the same responses I have heard him give every single doctor since he was first diagnosed.
“My wife has Alzheimer’s. She’s in Calvert City. I just want to be able to drive there to see her. I don’t want to be too sick to do that. I just want to be able to see her as long as I can. She looks forward to seeing me. She has the biggest smile when I walk in.”
Their marriage wasn’t perfect, but maybe love doesn’t have to be.
Life ain’t always beautiful, but it’s a beautiful life.
You can see more of LA at https://sweeterinthesouth.blog/