Endings Are Really Beginnings in Disguise

Serenity PrayerRecently my daughter turned 13. This was M.O.N.U.M.E.N.T.A.L. for her. While her newly-formed hormones are raging, she is beginning her life as a young woman, full of promise and dreams and hopes. Her attitude is positive. Her goals are clear. Her sense of self is strong.

Her ‘older’ mom is in the middle of her life (hopefully!), with different dreams and hopes, a mostly positive attitude, and somewhat clear goals. Do I envy my daughter and her new beginning? Do I long for my youth? Not really. Oh, I wish I had her lovely skin and strong physique, but I have no desire to relive my teen years.

My 91 year-old father is likely facing the end of his life. With nearly ten decades filled with more experiences than most, it’s possible that his only hope is that what he has accomplished and what he will leave behind are somehow carried on amongst his family and those who knew him. There is no more time for dreams, no more time for plans and goals, only time to look back on a life fully-lived.

I’ve spoken often of my dad and my “groupie” obsession of him. I’ve bragged about the myriad of accomplishments he’s had. As I come to grips with the fact that there may not be any more new stories to tell, only memories to share, I find myself grappling with a mixture of emotions that nag me almost daily.

dad and me 90

Sadness…that I and his family may have only a few precious moments left to share with him. Moments that are a far cry from beloved activities like trading harmless jabs or stumbling over Sunday crossword puzzles or sharing a Christmas meal.

Grateful…that my father, whom I thought was old at 50, lived long enough to know my children, meet his great grandchildren, and see their lives starting to form.

Anger…at a disease that is robbing my father of his memory and personality so much so that previous colorful and insightful conversations have turned into an exchange of monosyllabic responses to bland topics.

Confusion…as to how to deal with all of this as a daughter, a mother, and a sibling.

Regardless of what emotion happens to befall me at any given moment, the fact is, there’s an ending in his future, and mine.

Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to know when this ending will occur so that I’ll be able to witness it.

Maybe I’ll be strong enough to withstand the gut-wrenching sadness that will likely overtake me when that ending comes.

Maybe I’ll be able to be grateful for the time I and my children had with my father.

Maybe I’ll be wise enough to see that my father and the love he had for me will live on forever.

Maybe I’ll be able to see his ending as a new beginning.

Because isn’t that what life is all about anyway? As one door closes, another opens?

The door to my father’s life will close soon and he will enter a new room filled with love and peace and sheer happiness. The legacy he leaves behind will color the lives of those of us blessed enough to have known him and loved him.

If I do nothing else for my father, I will make these promises to him.

I will remember everything he taught me.

I will instill in his grandchildren the values he imparted to me.

I will carry on his memory with stories and anecdotes from our time together.

I will financially support organizations that look to cure Alzheimer’s so no other daughter has to go through the agony of watching a disease take her Daddy away.

And Dad, I will love you forever and ever until I see you again.

Jen’s Gem: Be the best example possible for your children.

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