Monday, November 23, 2009

Silver Linings. They don't come cheap.

A few weeks ago, one of my students piped up in class about hating her mom. From the look on her face, she wasn't kidding, not even a little bit. I said something along the lines of "but it's your mom," but that only increased the vehemence. Her mom wasn't nice, her mom was awful, her mom was wretched. "Whoa down a minute," I said. I had a mom I could not stand, a mom who did not understand me, a mom who disliked me right back. So much so that I moved across the country when the opportunity came. Then she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. My sister told me that several times a day she would go looking for me in the backyard, towards the barns, calling my name, bewildered and worried when I didn't show up. By then it was too late for "I'm sorry" and "I love you," I told my student. "That's so sad," she said, her eyes tearing up. "Then don't let it happen to you," I said. "You have no idea when that rug is going to be pulled out from under you. When she's gone, she is gone."

I am so very grateful that when my father died on Halloween of this year, I had made regular phone calls home, I had sent my dad pictures of the kids and the chickens, and that I ended every conversation, voice, email, or paper, with "I love you."

I am grateful that my book club pooled their money and sent me home just a few months before he died - that week with him and the rest of my family was one of the best in my entire life. I'm getting old, so that's really saying something. Those memories, so sweet and fresh, are like soft pillows to lay my head down on for just a bit.

I am grateful that when I was home for my dad's funeral, I had opportunities to reconnect with friends: Bill and Susan, who made me laugh so hard my sides ached for days; Debbie, who is a slice of home, a connection to what I thought was lost; and Matt, whose family, love, and faith rocked something very deep inside me.

I am grateful for my family: for Laura, who took care of home - and learned that it was no easy task :o) - I was so relieved to be able to know that the Nut was taken care of with love; for my sister and brothers, who shouldered this grief with me; for Dena making me feel loved; and for my husband. I began life with four parents, two birth and two adoptive, and now they are all gone. He has been my rudder; without him, I would be lost.

But most of all, I am grateful to know that I have been truly blessed and still am, to be surrounded by family, co-workers, and fabulous friends who are simply the best people on the planet.

I miss my dad, but I am so grateful I had one as wonderful as him.

For more Spins on gratitude, head over to Sprite's Keeper.

3 comments:

Sprite's Keeper said...

I am so sorry about your dad, Rikki! It makes me smile though that you made it important to tell him every time you spoke that you loved him. I do that with my parents as well because you're right. There is no warning when it's taken away. I hope your student learned that valuable lesson the easy way.
You're linked!
Have a happy Thanksgiving and know you're in my prayers.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

This was beautifully written and really hits home for me. I'm so glad you got to spend time with your dad.

Theresa Milstein said...

When I was a teenager, I lived with a difficult mother whom I hated. She's still difficult, but since I no longer live with her, I've had the distance and gained the maturity to feel sorry for her, and to even tell her I love her.

Your words will probably always stick with your student. You handled the situation well.

I'm sorry you lost your father.