In my last blogpost, two years ago, I wrote about helping my 96-year-old father and some of the internal conflicts I had about my motivations. At that time, I wrote, “…I always try to do what I believe to be the “right thing.” I have a desire to be able to look myself in the mirror after my father passes away and tell myself that I did the right things for him.” My Dad subsequently passed away a bit more than a month later.
My Mother had passed away in February 2014. For the eleven months between her death and Dad’s, I typically spent some time with Dad each day. In the days, weeks, and months since Dad passed away I have reflected many times on the experience. For most of my life, Mom had been the dominant personality in their marriage. While Dad and I did many things together when I was a kid living at home, once I became an adult and moved away, I very rarely had one-on-one time with Dad. This changed after Mom died. Though sometimes the daily interaction with Dad was frustrating, what I realize now, but could not see then, is that it was a wonderful period of my life. For the first time in decades, Dad and I were able to spend more time together than we had in the previous four decades. It was an opportunity to get to know each other again and to bond.
I think that what has surprised me the most is how much I miss my Dad, who was a kind, sweet and gentle man. Every now and then, something will happen that will remind me of him; and help me to remember him.
And yes, since Dad has passed away, I have been able to look myself in the mirror and feel good about having done the right things for him, but more importantly, I now know that it was not a one-way street: and that I received as much as I gave.