Thursday, May 22, 2008

I'm Back!

Greetings again from Colorado... I'm so glad to be back from Michigan. It was a difficult trip -- emotions boiling this way and that. Niece Brianna (the youngest of the batch on both the Brick and DeVries sides) graduated from high school. It was fun to watch her sashay down the aisle, and see brother Mikey and sister Lori beaming with pride. (Bree got the departmental Math award, and also graduated summa cum laude...good on ya, girl!)

It was a pleasure to spend time with our cousins, 'Aunt' Betti and Tim Vincent, from CA. (who'd come into Chicago to watch their beloved Padres get 'spanked,' as Tim put it, by the Cubs.)

It was great to spend time with the other cuzzes, and the folks.

But hard. So hard.

My dad was white and shaky nearly all the time, though obviously pushing himself so he could go places with us. At times, he seemed almost shrunken -- in his own circle of quiet. Still there, but yet not there. He would come back out of it if I touched his arm, or spoke to him...but it is clear that the end is not that far away. Whether it comes next week or a few months from now, only God knows.

I would be packing upstairs, or mowing the lawn, then suddenly crying, without realizing it was happening at all. I had a heck of a time singing in church Sunday -- the songs were just too close to the soul. I could not speak about Dad to others without tears coming to my eyes.

Yet I fought to keep things under control in public, especially when the folks were in the room. And in general, people talked and laughed and told stories, as if that 500-pound gorilla of Grief were not crouching over in the corner.

In some ways, it was courageous. In some ways, even more difficult.

It is even harder on Mom, who must continue to love him and take care of him...yet rarely has an outlet to express her frustration and fears. Even though she calls frequently when I'm back in CO, in a sense, she got to let it out even more when I was in Michigan -- she would blow up at me about little things, then in an hour, all was well and that 'horrible' thing seemingly forgotten. This happened over and over this past week.

We put out US flags on the graves of the veterans, for Memorial Day. The cemetary now holds the graves of not only Grandpa and Grandma Cumings and their parents...but now Uncle Archie, who died last May, and Uncle Dick, who went in February. After we'd finished, and the flags waved over graves from the Civil War through last year, my mom called me over.

She was standing on the plot she and Dad had purchased, with plans to put up the gravestone soon. She motioned to the horizon. "See? This is why we picked this spot."

I looked up...and realized that white house not far away was our farmhouse. Plain as day.

Then the tears came again.

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