My father, who loved my mother so deeply – and imperfectly – finishes this way. He provides, more than generously. The fruits of his labor reach into the present. Yet he nearly wrecks her with his decline.
For five years she has cared for him on her own, in their home. She’s at the end of her rope; no – she has run out of rope. My sister and I have failed her by letting her reach this point of exhaustion. Or: we have respected her wishes. She has said until now that she could handle his care, as he forgets all he has known, and been.
We’ve found in-home help. We’ve found Adult Day Care that we call a “Senior Social Club” when Dad asks where he’s going. We’ve found a meal delivery service and more bookkeeping help and a long term care facility for when that time comes.
Mom and I visited my Aunt Rachel and Uncle Sammy out in the country where the air is clear and you know where the rooster is but sometimes the biddies are hiding.
I believe my mother will return to herself. Her curiosity will return. She will read a book again. She will call Aunt Paula, and Aunt Betty, and Aunt Kat, and Uncle Ed, to check on them.
I have – already – seen her put flowers in the earth this Spring. (Well – in her containers. Close enough.)
* * *
Returning to Nashville – by car, on I-40 – I stayed at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville for a night.
A musician with his guitar and harmonica sang as guests came and went in the grand old lobby dark with stone and fire, chilled by a cool mountain breeze. He sang covers of Kris Kristofferson; Bob Dylan; Elton John; Neil Young; The Band; The Monkees (!); Patsy Cline. He took requests.
A few of us ate dinner and drank our glasses of wine; others passed through. A group of girlfriends celebrated a birthday. One couple danced.
This morning I want to share with you a poem etched in the stone fireplace at the Grove Park Inn – part of a poem by James Ballantine in old Scottish dialect. My mother loves that dialect so.
(Confide ye aye in Providence, for Providence is kind,
And bear ye a life’s changes wi’ a calm and tranquil mind.
Tho’ press’d and hemm’d on every side, hae faith an ye’ll win through,
For ilka blade o’ grass keps its ain drap o’ dew…)
* * *
“Ballantine wrote the words after hearing the story of a woman who had opened a shop. A neighbor remarked that there were already too many shops like hers in the village. The woman replied, ‘Ah, but Providence is kind; every blade o’ grass carries its ain drap o’ dew.’
After completing his apprenticeship as a painter, Ballantine attained notoriety as a glass painter. He was commissioned to illustrate the windows of the House of Lords. Many of his literary works were published in the magazine Whistle Binkie (1832-53).”
* * *
Lovely post….so tender and real
Beautiful, Jen. Thank you…Providence is kind!! ❤️
Beautiful post Jennifer!
Whew, Jennifer. Providence is kind… so true. And life can be so hard. My heart aches for you and your family. Sending love to you and admiration for your generous share.
What a beautiful and very moving post, Jennifer. Thinking of you and your family…..
Thank you, and thinking of you in the midst of this complicated situation. So many of us have been here, where the ‘right thing’ to do is not clear, and we must navigate murky logistical and emotional waters as best we can. Feeling thankful with you for grace moments along the way.
❤️ you are such a generous soul, Jennifer!
Such a treasure! Thank you for sharing your soul with us, Jennifer. I appreciate you, and I know your parents do, too!
So touching Jennifer. Have faith indeed. I know your parents were heartened by your visit
Infinitely moving, this post. Pain, patient numbing suffering, but hope. Ballantine’s last line is a treasure.
Loving wishes to you.
Jennifer, I feel your pain. My mom has dementia. It’s such a robber. Good idea to stay at the Grove Park to break up the trip. Helps to sort things out.
Beautiful post. Thank you, Jennifer.
Much love to you Jennifer
Thank you, dear Barby – xoxo
Jennifer, I am so sorry for what you are going through and hope you find strength in all the lovely words you share in this blog! I know I do. Best, Mary Laurie
It helps me to write about it, ML. And – thank you. Your words mean so much to me. Xoxo
You have lifted my spirit this morning.
I am so glad, Anne. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Xoxo
Jennifer, you are loving them all so well.
What a kind thing to say, Lucy. I am trying imperfectly – xoxo
Jennifer, Thank you for this beautiful piece. So moving.
Thank you, Alice, and thank you for being in touch – xoxo
Much love for you and your beautiful parents, Jen, on this journey.
Thank you, Lyn – xoxo
A beautiful reflection amidst such a difficult time – such a good idea to break the trip home up with an evening of music and repose.XO
I have come to a new appreciation of the restorative power of a night at the Grove Park – !! Thank you, E – Xoxo
J, hugging my little family a little tighter tonight and breathing in gratitude for youth and health which I know can both be fleeting. Thank you for the reminder that each day is a gift. Sigh. Love you and your family.
Love you dearest Miss Anne. I am thinking of you. Xoxo