The anger phase? Yeah, felt it

“Grief is the price we pay for love.” – Queen Elizabeth II

The florist did exactly as instructed: Use flowers with patriotic colors, make them look “masculine,” and for Heaven’s sake, please don’t arrange them to look like they are en route to a funeral home.

I love my florist. She gets me. She knows I abhor funeral-looking flowers and she always accommodates my requests.

So after church on Sunday, why, oh why, did I want to take that floral arrangement and chuck it across the pews and watch it smash into the brick wall?

I ordered the flowers for Father’s Day in memory of my dad. They looked beautiful on the altar. But as I retrieved the arrangement to bring home, a wave of anger enveloped me. I felt like the flowers were a consolation prize. And I didn’t want them.

I wanted my dad.

I wanted to go visit him, to hug him, to hear his laugh, to see his sentimental smile and watch him nod his head as he read his Father’s Day card. I wanted to eat strawberry shortcake and have too much coffee with him. I didn’t want those damn flowers because they represented his death. They reminded me that I couldn’t see him in person, that at best, I could visit where his ashes are interred.

It was hard, and I did my best to get through the day without another meltdown. I propped his picture up so he was sitting with me as I muddled through chores.

The erratic weather mirrored my emotions: glimpses of sunshine; glimpses of smiles. A stray shower; a tear or two here and there. By the end of the day, the sun was setting, and the tears flowed freely, and it actually felt good.

Ironically, out of a gray sky, the sun blazed fiercely as a torrential rain storm hit in the area. Wiping my eyes, I looked out the window, then headed to the garage.

And son of a gun, if there wasn’t a rainbow stretched out across the sky…

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

Forward Motion

A year ago at this time, we watched my Dad steadily decline, succumbing to the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. The good days were becoming good moments, and those moments were few and far between.

Watching him go downhill was so difficult. Physically, he was strong and healthy. Mentally, the simplest of instructions were a challenge. Simple things we take for granted daily – like brushing your teeth or tying your shoes  – were tasks that he not only couldn’t do, but he couldn’t even understand what he was being asked to do. I remember assisting him by putting his shoes and socks on one morning. There was a brief moment of frustration in his eyes, almost like he was communicating that I shouldn’t be helping him, as he’s the dad. Maybe he briefly remembered tying my shoes when I was little? I don’t know. All I do know is that as our eyes met, mine welled up with tears while helping him, knowing that if he did have any idea what had been going on in his life with this disease, he’d be completely and totally humiliated.

For instance, Dad was 75 years-old. He worshipped nearly every single Sunday of his life. Seventy-five years of Sundays! But, on Easter Sunday last year, he didn’t even get the concept of being in church. Standing and sitting for readings and hymns completely confused him. He didn’t understand Communion – in fact, he made a scene so loud in the sanctuary during Communion that my poor mother hurried him out of the building, my sister trailing not far behind.

I think a good portion of the congregation was in tears witnessing this event. Many had known my dad for years, and they watched the steady downward spiral. It was no secret – his ability to live at home – with my mom caring for him – was coming to an end. A nursing facility was on the horizon for him – or so we thought.

As we move forward in our “first year without him,’ we now come upon Easter. It will be hard attend church and not think of the heartbreak we witnessed last year. But it will be even harder to see his name in the bulletin, as it will be amongst the long list of flowers ordered by those of us missing loved ones. His name will be listed under “In Memory of …”

There are just some things you are not prepared for when you are moving forward.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb