My father was a world war two vet in the Pacific theatre. A pilot on photographic missions he earned his wings at nineteen–straight out of high school.
We met my mother at her sorority house Northwestern University Chicago as he played the piano pass time downstairs waiting for a friend.
She heard his rendition of Tea for Two and was drawn like the music lover she was.
Mom passed away at home in August of 2007 before her Alzheimer’s could rob her of all her memories.
My only sibling, a brother, followed her in June of 2008–a victim of his nicotine addiction.
Dad passed in March 2010 in the final cruel stages of the neurological thief — Parkinson’s disease.
In the span of two and a half years my family of origin was lost. It drew a curtain of sadness over my life.
Today I went to visit the care home for the elderly and infirmed where my father spent his last year. It is the first time I have been back since he passed. It was lovely to see the care providers and other residents. I am humbled by the level of love they provided day in and out. I watched over my parents as they were robbed of their faculties and know intimately the emotional and physical demands of care providers. Until dad could not move from wheelchair to bed, he remained in his home of thirty five years. It is one of life’s most difficult decisions to know when elders can not be served best in their homes.
The care home in which he resided is a magical place. It is a private home in which a maximum of six resident may be cared for at any given time
It sits on a hill overlooking the sea in the most beautiful part of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Los Angeles.
Today I met the new residents and their families. They were having a birthday party for one of the elders. As we sat in the back garden overlooking the sea, two biplanes–Stearman–the same sort my father trained in as a 19 year old in World War two, flew overhead–out over the sea.
They nearly touched wings as they moved in perfect formation. It was as though my parents were saying hello to me–and farewell. Such a moment, such a vision etched permanently in mind.
There is a hole in my life now that is unfilled, but the loss has also given me such a great appreciation for life. To enjoy every day-every moment. To see what I wish they could see–what we could share together–what I now see for them and for those who might be touched by my world through the vehicle of my words.
Such was the color of my day. Bittersweet–rich. I hope yours did not pass without notice and deep gratitude. There is so much beauty and wonder in every leaf, face and sunrise. This life is a rainbow of experience.
There is no problem or challenge so big or difficult that it should color your world gray.