My father doesn’t have words any more. He seldom if ever speaks. We can’t tell if he really knows we’re there. Last Sunday Reggie and Sharon (my brother and sister-in-law) drove up from Florida and we went to the Nursing Home where my father has been living for the past 6 weeks. Gloria, my step mother, came too and Ron and my son Simeon. Daddy never said a word. He didn’t look up from the sunlight he was trying to catch on his left pant leg. We rolled him out onto the large front porch into the pre-spring air. Simeon kept looking away. His eyes were wet.
When Simeon was little he thought Papa was the biggest and strongest man in the whole world. He even brought him to kindergarten for show and tell once. It was like bringing his own superhero. Papa was my superhero, too. When I was a child I thought he was perfect. Actually, I thought he was perfect up into my early 20’s. Hero worship dies hard. But even when he ceased to be perfect he still was my comfort and support. The man who believed I could do or be anything. The parent who took the time to listen. He used to bake bread and german chocolate cakes and on Friday’s would introduce us to something new for dinner. Even when we married and started our own homes, he would always find something to fix for us, from a running toilet to our taxes, when he came to visit.
But now he sits slumped in a chair, his eyes turned inward to something we can’t see. We talked at him. And finally we decided to sing. My Daddy was very dedicated to the church. My mother used to say he was there whenever the doors opened. I don’t know about that, but we did spend a lot of time there. And we sang alot. As a matter of fact, I learned to sing harmony listening to my Daddy. The first line I learned was the bass line. So we started to sing old hymns and after a while his mouth began to move and, very faintly, he began to sing with us. Encouraged we sang hymn after hymn. We stopped for a moment to chat among ourselves. And then we heard, from his chair, a clear soft baritone singing the chorus of “Shall we gather at the river,” a song we’d sung a few minutes before. My daddy singing. We immediately joined in and sang another voice. But soon he fell quiet and it was just us. He didn’t make another sound for the rest of our visit. It’s hard to sing when I want to cry. The notes aren’t so clear. Plus I was trying to be tough for my family. Maybe they were too.
We took Daddy back to his room. My brother and Gloria got him in to bed. There was a man across the hall who kept calling for help. We knew him back when he owned a store downtown. Simeon was worried about him and went into his room to see if he could do anything. He couldn’t really. The man thought he was in his store and wanted something from a shelf that wasn’t there. But Simeon stayed and talked to him for a minute and that seemed to help.
I am Simeon and Sara’s mom. I’m Sabrina’s Momz (her term for me), and there are other children who call me by that name. But this morning, as I sit thinking of my father, I am really just my Daddy’s little girl.
You will always be your Daddy’s little girl Natalie. Nothing and nobody can ever take that away. What wonderful words and thoughts you have shared, thank you.
And Simeon is such an awesome example of a wonderful young man who has grown up in the love that’s been shared with him and giving it back to others.
My grandchildren and I have been big fans of you and Ron and all the children for so long.
I sit here crying as I read your blog. I can so relate to what you are saying about your Dad who is in a nursing home.
My Mom has been in a nursing home in PA for about six years. She has alsheimers and now cancer. She is 92. We have had a wonderful years with the (best Mom in the world). She will probably leave this earth soon and even though we know we have been so fortunate for so many years, my sisters and I are devastated and will miss her so much! She is and has always been our most amazing Blessing
When we visit Mom it is like it is for you visiting your Dad. It is so hard to see but we want to be with her.
I wish you and your family peace and Love and blessings in all you are going through.
I knew your son Simeon and daughter Sara would grow up to be wonderful people. They sure are.
Thank you. I want so much to make things better — but there’s so little I can do. When I look at my children I can’t imagine them in the same place! I hope that I can spare or prepare Sara and Simeon. But in the meantime, I intend to live as fully and joyfully as I can, for their sakes and for mine! I wish you, your sisters, your mom and the rest of your family peace, love and blessings as well. A friend taught me the following prayer several years ago. It’s my “any situation” prayer: May we be filled with LovingKindness. May we be well. May we be Peaceful and at Ease. May we be Happy.
I loved this blog, I related to this and it made me sad to think of others going through this. Seeing and hearing of this makes me want another chance to talk with my parents again. We take so much for granted, but I think we take time for granted the most…….. Thanks for the thoughts!!!!
May God bless your father and you and your family, Natalie. He sounds like a great man.
I did not realize you have a blog until today when I received my SC African American History Calendar for this year. I feel like I’ve known you all my life, but it wasn’t until I read the bio in the calendar that I realized that we share a sisterhood. I am third generation SDA. I did not attend Pine Forge, but I did attend Southern College (now University) in Collegedale, TN with several Pine Forge attendees. I even had some passing acquaintances at Oakwood.
You have such a special aura about you–A shine that comes from within. You are truly someone who is blessed. Times like the ones we are experiencing now require someone with your depth of emotion and spirituality to help others make it through. Even through the stark plastic and metal of the television, I have always felt a kinship to you and I’m sure others have, too.
As a Media Specialist, I am very enthused about great storytelling. You and Ron are the finest examples of that. I hope to continue viewing your site and getting updates on what you are up to. God bless your family, especially your Dad. Mine has been gone since I was 11, but I know how traumatic it feels to have someone you love changing as they age. I’ll be praying for you and your family.
Take care, and I hope to be writing again soon!!!
My daughter has just discovered the joy of gullah gullah island, i thank you and ron for such a gift. I have looked through your gallery this morning and your art work touches me, then i read your blog and i tear up…. your family has touched mine, and i send my pryers and my light to yours. THANK YOU.
I was touched by your words about your father because I have walked in your shoes. My dad died last November after an extended battle with Alzheimers. It is a terrible happening when the child has to become the parent. You have to remember all the wonderful memories and lessons that your father taught you. I am certain that he was so very proud of your accomplishments. That is something that I can feel good about now that my dad is gone…he was proud of his daughter. And we are who we are because of our parents. Happy memories are what I talk about when I speak of my father. Your memories will get you through this sad journey that your father is taking. Thank you for all the happiness that you and Ron have given all the children. Come visit us at M. C. Riley kindergarten soon.
Brenda DeHart Cadaret