My Mom has been gone now for just over three weeks. The memorial service a memory, her personal effects removed from the bedroom, the death certificate official, the cremation completed, necessary paperwork that accompanies a death well underway.
I've been watching my Dad carefully through this process, keeping him updated and helping him settle into his new space (Mom's former room). I've visited regularly and called frequently. Dad has shown incredible strength. I know he's hurting inside, often lonely, struggling to accept what may seem like a bad dream that will eventually end but never changes, day after day. He is definitely the one left behind. Despite his seeming acceptance of what is, he will occasionally come out with a remark or two that leaves me speechless.
Many evenings, right around 7 PM, he'll call me on the phone. He's taken over Mom's role, "just checking in" or "just calling to hear your voice". I find this interesting since Dad always left the phone communication to Mom. Our conversations are brief, to the point and without a lot of fanfare. He's a man of few words but each one counts. No fluff. It feels odd to hear the phone ring and to see his caller I.D. come up."Hi, Dad", I say.
Tonight he gave me the Exxon stock quote and explained he'd been studying the framed picture I gave him earlier this week of his five great grandchildren. "I'm working on naming them all correctly," he told me. He went on to say, "I get pretty lonely. The others here [at the adult family home] are used to being alone but I lost her: [Mom] BOOM ! just like that. I'm having a rough time with it." I don't doubt it one bit, Dad. You and Mom, together for seven decades and then, it's all over and she's gone. How does he begin to wrap his mind around this new state of normal?
I suppose it's good that he verbalizes his grief. I've tried to be open with mine in his presence. We comfort each other. Just to sit in each others company feels good. I watch him look at Mom's picture. The 8 x 10 sits just to the left of his easy chair.
"She was so beautiful in those days before she died", he told me earlier this week.
Yes, she was.