Archive for March 31st, 2010
Posted on March 31, 2010 - by Nurse Virginia
Many examples are in the news of people who have turned pain into purpose. The individuals who start charitable organizations usually do so after a loss. That is true with people who march to honor the memory of a loved one, with marches for breast cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. My way of memorializing my Dad was to try to become more like him.
Dad knew how to share himself and his life with other
Even during the time of experiencing his mental losses related to Alzheimer’s disease, Dad continues to gravitate to people, and they moved toward him. Whenever I went to visit, people came up to him in the dining room, or greeted him when they passed us in the hall. Whether they were other residents or staff members, Dad knew them. He didn’t remember their names, but he knew their “story.” Dad had a way of lighting up when he saw anyone coming and acted as if talking to each one was the high point of his day. Everyone seemed to have spent some time with him, and he knew them.
At the luncheon following Dad’s funeral, it amazed us that everyone in attendance knew so much about him. They knew about his lifelong love affair with chocolate. Almost everyone who had come in contact with him knew his favorite sports and favorite teams. His love of interesting neckties and his tie collection was legendary.
Becoming more like Dad brings comfort
In the months that followed his death, I realized the comfort that could follow a loss by trying to emulate the qualities I had admired in my father. And in some ways, I tried to become more like Dad. I started to share more of myself with co-workers and friends the way Dad had. I made an effort to be more attentive to others while they told me about their problems. I thought of the times when Dad talked to people and he was totally in the moment and really with them. Sharing my faith with others seemed to come up more frequently in conversations, just as it had with Dad.
Dad – a Witness till the end
We lost Dad in March of 2005, after a massive stroke. In the emergency room, as Dad slipped deeper and deeper into a coma and could no longer identify what he heard or what he saw, he prayed as long as he could talk. The last two words he ever spoke were Jesus and Heaven.
Book excerpt from: Please Get to Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance
By: Virginia Garberding and Cecil Murphey
Virginia Garberding, R.N.
Director of Education, The Wealshire, Lincolnshire, Illinois