Tuesday, February 28, 2012

One year later

This past Saturday marked the one year anniversary of the passing of the Mr.'s dad, Ben. Dean is having a harder time of it than he thought he would, he's been caught off guard by the feelings of sadness and missing his dad.
My in-laws moved to Alabama from Michigan when I was pregnant with Mac in 1989. After that time, due to distance and tensions not worth reliving, we were never very close with them. They would actually visit Michigan when daboyz were small and never tell us they had been here. We'd find out from relatives that they had come and gone, never stopping in to see their grandchildren. Ah well, time heals...or it least dulls the pain...of all wounds.
And my Mr., being an exceptionally sweet man refused to carry a grudge. He remained respectful and loving to his mom and dad and adjusted his expectations and relationship in an "it is what it is" attitude.
A few years ago, after we had moved into our new home, Dean wanted his mom and dad to see our house. They were getting older, his mom was unwell and said his dad seemed to be showing the early signs of dementia. And so, in February of that year he called and told his mom we were coming down in May to get them and bring them to Michigan for a visit. He insisted. And we did. They stayed here for two weeks and a few months later his mom called to say that it was time for them to move back to Michigan. Ben did indeed have dementia and it was progressing quickly. She could not care for him and with her own health problems, couldn't really care for herself either. So back we went to Alabama in the fall and we brought that back north so that we could try to make life a little better for them.
Dean moved furniture and ran errands and made phone calls and found them a little apartment situated closer to his grandmother and aunts & uncles than to us. He said that was ok, he would drive the extra distance because the rest of the family was more likely to visit them if they were close by. Every Friday he went over early in the morning and took them grocery shopping and then out to lunch. His dad was confused and needed lots of direction and his mom in a wheelchair. Then he'd haul their groceries into the apartment, put them away and then proceed to clean and do laundry and spend time with them.
As Ben's illness progressed, hospitalizations occured and their care needs increased. Dean found them a wonderful woman who came during the week to check in and do housework and prepare their meals. Things got worse yet and he found them an apartment in a senior citizen's building. It was farther still from our house but closer to aunts & uncles and friends who could visit them.
Throughout the time they lived in Michigan, Ben deteriorated at a fast rate. He couldn't identify his wife, he hallucinated, he fell, he wandered. He could only remember one thing, "That's Dean, he'll take care of us!" Dean was his brother, his uncle, his dad...everything but his son. Most of all, he was Dean. The caretaker, provider and protector. Toward the end, Dean would hold Ben's hand while he pushed his mom's wheelchair through Wal Mart's every single Friday.
Dean who made sure his dad had a big cup of Tim Horton's coffee and donut every Friday morning even when Ben didn't know what the words to ask for them. He just knew when Dean brought that coffee and donut over, it sure did taste good.
Dean bought his dad the individual servings of ice cream from Gordon's because his mom couldn't get up and get him his favorite evening snack but Ben loved ice cream and he could handle getting the individual cups for himself with directions from his wife.
Dean went over there late on a Saturday night when his dad was confused and agitated. He cleaned the mess Ben had made in his panic, he gave him a shower, put him in clean pajamas and tucked him into bed when he finally exhausted himself.
Dean kissed his dad's cheek every time he saw him and said, "I love you Dad."
He called hospice when it was time to give comfort instead of cure. He sat at his side in the hospital at night so Ben wouldn't be restrained. He went to the apartment and picked up his mom daily and took her, pushing her in her wheelchair, to visit.
He fought for a bed at the veteran's hospital so his dad wouldn't be housed in a nursing home.
He sat holding his hand until Ben closed his eyes here and opened them in heaven.
Why am I reliving all of this? Because I remain amazed and in awe of this man God gave me. Shortly after Ben's death, Dean's mom moved back to Alabama and our lives resumed their regular pace. Life goes on. But I will never forget seeing my husband helping his dad open his Tim Horton's coffee and the smile on Ben's face, "This is Dean! He takes good care of us!"
He sure does.


Jada's Gigi said...

What a bitter sweet memory...the small blessing God gives...

Mrs. Mac said...

This post made me cry for what a good husband you have.

Margie said...

wow! I should not have read this at work. Now I'm crying in awe of the love that God has poured into Dean and Dean in turn pours out on others.


Pat said...

It's such a gift to share your life with a wonderful husband....and another gift to realize it. You are double blessed.

Rita said...

What a blessing your husband is. A kinder man no one could find.

Stacy said...

You are blessed :)