Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Promises of a Lifetime

My friend Velvet has been seriously thinking about wedding vows as she contemplates getting married later this summer.  She wrote a post recently which made me remember my parents and how they had supported each other to the end.
My mother was 6 years younger than my father.  No one would have ever thought she would be the first to go at the young age of 70.  But she died an agonizing death of cancer with my father caring for her until her last breath.  They had been married almost 50 years when she died.
He was never the same after she died.  He went through the motions of life, but his spirit was lacking.  Nine years later he lay down in his recliner and hoped never to wake up again, only to be discovered by friends who rushed him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with lung cancer.  Not surprising at 86 for someone who had smoked most of his life.
He was finally released to a nursing home, where it was clear he would live out his remaining days.  Several weeks later on the anniversary of my mother’s death, he died.  There was always a mystery surrounding his death because his wedding ring was never to be found.  I suspected that he had swallowed it early that day in the hope that it would reunite them in whatever lies beyond death.
Maybe it did because often when I meditate, I see them walking across a field toward me hand in hand.  They seem happy and carefree and not at all emaciated by cancer.
Upon reading the story of the missing ring, Velvet recommended that I see “The Notebook,” a movie about two lovers in their old age.  The woman, who suffered from dimentia, experienced brief moments of memory as her husband read and re-read the story of their falling in love.  They were inseparable until the very end.
It’s a sad movie, which reminds us that growing old brings with it challenges.  At times one person struggles.  And then it’s the other person’s turn.  So far we’ve only had physical problems to deal with.  I’m hopeful we can keep our minds as our bodies slowly fall apart.  Hopefully we will support each other along the way.


Blogger Gary said...

Oh, I cried my eyes out during The Notebook and then uncontrollably afterwards for a while. It really struck a chord with me for some reason. I cried so much it made me laugh.

Love is so powerful. The Notebook may be hokey to some but I thought it was amazing. So much love and pain. Wow.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

The Notebook was a powerful movie and definitely a tearjerker. I'm finding it very difficult to imagine one of my parents without the other as they approach their 60th anniversary this month. It sounds like your Dad had a really difficult time after your mother died but I'm sure you are right - they have reunited somewhere.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Gary -- I love hokey movies, especially ones that are so well acted. It was believable.

Cyndy -- 60 years is a long time. Be happy your parents have made it together to such a ripe old age.

11:47 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

The worst year of my life was 1998. My father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January and died in May. Toward the end my mother said, "his cancer is killing both of us." My mother died 5 months later. They were only 76 and 73 and both deaths came so quickly it took my breath away. I cried so much that year that I thought I would dry up like a dead leaf and crumble into dust.

2:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love is so powerful--so very true.
i suppose I am in some odd way, lucky to have never had to watch my parents age and get sick. They both died suddenly when I was in high school. I think of them every day of course, since we were very close. There was much love and respect. When I visualize them i see a young vibrant couple, who laughed a lot, and who danced and ice skated together beautifully. When i see my aunts and uncles aging & getting weaker, I am sad, but reminded that we are all in these temporary bodies, and all we can do is take care of ourselves as best we can, and love & support as many people as we can.

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wept as I read your post, Barbara. The anniversary of your mother's death...the ring...your meditation image...oh my G--. This is so poignant and touching. What a connection you describe -- beyond time and form.

I saw "The Notebook" with my ex-husband back when it first came to video, on either a Valentine's Day or anniversary. We both cried. My current partner wouldn't last five minutes through that movie, but is still a mushball in their own private way.


4:29 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I'd like to someday meet someone with whom I'd want to share the next 50 years, someone I'd love for the next 60. (Even though I'm in my mid-30s, it wouldn't be a stretch for my family.)

Much Like the Notebook, Away from Her broke my heart. I fear both losing my mind and being left behind.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Terry -- There's a real emptiness when both your parents are gone, yes?

Anon -- I can't imagine losing my parents at such a young age. I'm wondering how you managed after they had died.

Anon F -- Would your current partner think The Notebook was too sappy?

Kristin -- You do have long-lived genes in your family, so I can see you making it to 50 or 60 years with your spouse.

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, that's right, Barbara! (But I have a sentimental streak the width of the Mississippi. So does my partner, in a way, but I'm more comfortable jumping in and swimming in it...)


12:10 PM  

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