For Better or Worse…

His books, his booze, his Brooks Brothers shirts are all at home, but he is not. In their eighties, my once inseparable parents have been wrenched apart, physically anyway, by the disabling symptoms of Parkinson’s. Dad is in a veterans’ care facility where everything is top-notch except the ghastly institutional food. White bread served with packets of margarine doesn’t fly with the Old Sarge, long the appreciative recipient of my mother’s excellent cooking.

screenshot_2016-11-06-14-06-47-1.png
She prepares brie and salami sandwiches on nine-grain bread for his lunch. On his nightstand sit little containers of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, sour cream cake, and sliced apples – tastes of home. She wheels him into the parking lot to see what he thinks about her car tires.

When the aides dressed my always dapper father in appalling combinations, she swooped in and hung matching outfits for the week in his closet, Garanimals-style. His room holds his Civil War bronze soldier, books, fresh flowers, pictures of his family, a book of prayer.

She brings him a communion wafer each Sunday after mass and they sit, then, and read the paper together. Life goes on. So does love.

Advertisements

About Silver in the Barn

Life in a 1915 farmhouse in Central Virginia. Blogging about whatever happens to catch my fancy - sometimes nonsense, occasionally not.
This entry was posted in Random Ruminations, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

85 Responses to For Better or Worse…

  1. Sorry to hear about your father, but what a wonderful marriage they have! Such caring makes it tolerable to have to be in an institutional living situation. He is really a fortunate man.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. carolwallace says:

    So happy to see this again. God bless Sarge. XXX

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely to see a post from you. Possibly not the best topic.
    A friend of my parents had PD. She died at home struggling to help him around, so the vets’ place could be the best option.
    Old age is hard. We learn this as we watch our parents fall to physical or mental health problems and try to help them.
    Then, we wonder, how will I go?
    Sending you and your parents much love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate, thank you so much. Was thinking about you the other day as I stumbled across “Botticelli’s Bastard” and realized I had yet to read it. Sheesh! Wonder whether it would make a good book club read?

      Like

      • There’s certainly enough to discuss, so from that perspective, yes. If you recall I didn’t rave over it, but it was interesting. I read another one later called The Artisan’s Star, which I think could be a decent book club read.

        Like

  4. Jeanie T says:

    Barbara, as usual, this was so beautifully written. Aging can be so difficut. Your parents are a wonderful example of aging with grace, love and closeness. God bless them both.

    Like

  5. M.E. says:

    I am in tears, but my heart feels warm. True love! Barb you must be so proud of them. 😘

    Like

  6. Victo Dolore says:

    I absolutely adore this post. Bittersweet.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. So beautifully written, Barbara. I’ve so missed your words. What a wonderful marriage they have – I love especially the swooping in with matching outfits. I’m sorry to hear of your parents’ struggles (and thus yours) but so so happy to see a post from you arrive in my inbox.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. shoreacres says:

    What a beautiful, touching post, arising from such a difficult situation. Those little touches of home are so important. The graciousness — the grace — they represent surely make the situation more bearable for your father: and perhaps for your mother, too. Wanting to “do something” is such a normal reaction, and she clearly has a way of “doing” with love and attentiveness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Everything my mother does makes the situation more bearable for him and, in consequence, then for her too. But who takes care of her. So easy to overlook the needs of the caregiver which is where I try to step into the breach. Not always as well as I should.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Linda Marshall says:

    What a wonderful love story and what a shame our care facilities for the elderly are so inadequate and poorly managed and staffed.

    Thank you for sharing such a poignant story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We feel quite grateful that for the most part Dad’s facility, which is for veterans, is really good. But, oh, the food is just awful. If my mother was in charge of the kitchen, she’d be working wonders on their same budget, guaranteed.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Susanne says:

    Barbara, this is truly a bittersweet story. Your mom’s love and caring of your dad is beautiful. Love does go on. A hopeful post even as it describes inevitable decline.

    On another note altogether, I’m happy to see you pop up again and wish you well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, Susanne, thank you so much. Have been wondering how your writing has been going. Last I remember you were taking some time off to hone your skills in a fiction workshop?

      Like

      • Susanne says:

        What a memory you have, Barbara! Yes, I did the course, wrote a few stories and here I am pretty much back where I started – blogging and enjoying blogging and writing and occasionally submitting things I think are worthy. And that’s that!

        Like

  11. So glad to see you back, Barbara. Getting old is not as easy as some make out, but your dad is getting the important touches of his wife with both still able to share in each other.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Jodi says:

    Oh Barbara! A heartwarming and bittersweet love story! Thank you for sharing. It is hard to watch those we love suffer, but it is also so beautiful to see the love that endures. It is this thing we call life…. So nice to see you back here writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jean Knight says:

    A beautiful love story, Barbara. I see such courage and gentleness and a lovely affection in the way your Mother cares for your Father. You are able to share…. in your beautiful words…. what so many of us have faced as we and our parents have aged. Sending love and hugs to you! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  14. How sad. How beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Dianna says:

    Beautifully written post. The later years can be so difficult. I’ve been thinking of you and glad to see you posting again.

    Like

  16. C.E.Robinson says:

    Barbara, nice to see you back! Even though a bittersweet story! Your mother’s love shines through in keeping the dignity of your father and the normalcy of daily life. Beautiful! 💛 Christine

    Like

  17. Joanne Sisco says:

    It’s less a better-or-worse and more a testament of love.

    These stories of couples being separated by poor health later in life after decades together is appalling and sad beyond words.

    I’ve missed you Barbara. It’s nice to see you here again, but I’m so sorry for you that it’s a sad chapter in your life right now ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Eliza Waters says:

    Barbara, so nice to see a post from you. I think of you often, wondering how things are in your part of the world. How was your garden this year?
    Your words are bittersweet. Old age often robs us of some things, but not all. It’s so wonderful that your Mom has continued to bring home comfort to your Dad. A beautiful thing. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, Eliza, and thank you. My garden is a horror. No false modesty, truly it is. All the mistakes I’ve committed over the past ten years (wrong plants in the wrong place) have come home to roost. So I’ve started my Great Garden Demolition project and hope to rectify mistakes over time. And your beautiful garden?

      Like

      • Eliza Waters says:

        It was a great year for me in the garden. I had a lot of energy for it and got a lot done early on before the heat caused me to lag behind. Now we’re tucking in for winter and the long dormancy ahead.

        Like

  19. Kathy Morgan says:

    Such bittersweet notes about your father. The bond between your parents certainly transcends this time in their lives. Love to you all as the road continues.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Welcome back! Sorry to hear that things are not going so well with your father but so nice to know that love conquers all.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. So glad to see you posting again: you have indomitable parents
    The decision must have been a hard one to take.
    Of course the care – apart from the food (margarine!)- is top notch, but your mother’s determination to keep the small, essential things of life going strong can do nothing but help her husband.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The small, essential things of life are the most critical at this stage which is why the abysmal meals have proven so difficult. I brought Dad a giant bottle of green Tabasco sauce to amp up the flavor a bit and his tablemate and he ran through that thing faster than you could imagine.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Food is so important: why people think that the elderly lose all sense of taste I will never know, but smiling to think how fast that bottle of green Tabasco disappeared!

        Like

  22. So good to see you back. So good to see that ‘For better or worse’ really does still exist.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Sandra says:

    Missed your posts so much, Barbara. This is sad, but at the same time inspiring. I wish you all well.

    Like

  24. Parnassus says:

    Hello Barbara, I am sorry to hear that your father’s case has advanced so seriously. I’m sure that he is now absolutely living for visits from his family. The most difficult moment of such visits is when you have to leave, but they don’t want to let you go.
    –Jim

    Like

    • Hello Jim, so nice to hear from you. I remember you had a seriously injured friend in a nursing home so I know you have first-hand experience with the visitation process. Always a wrench to leave them behind. My father is so good, I must say. Stiff upper lip and very little self-pity.

      Like

  25. bkpyett says:

    Barbara, what a beautifully written post. Your love shines through and you have obviously inherited your parent’s wonderful values. Wishing you all my best wishes.

    Like

  26. Caffienna says:

    Barbara, I only rejoice with you that they are able to spend more sacred moments together somehow. So good to “hear” your voice again. How is your daughter? Keeping you and Roger in my prayers. This chapter of life can be beautiful at times. Peace, Sarah G

    On Sun, Nov 6, 2016 at 2:28 PM, Silver in the Barn wrote:

    > Silver in the Barn posted: “His books, his booze, his Brooks Brothers > shirts are all at home, but he is not. In their eighties, my once > inseparable parents have been wrenched apart, physically anyway, by the > disabling symptoms of Parkinson’s. Dad is in a veterans’ care facility > wher” >

    Liked by 1 person

  27. ritaroberts says:

    Hello Barbara, Thank you for sharing your sad, but also endearing news of your Father It is so difficult for your mother also, having to come to terms with an illness. Old age is a bitch at times.The happy loving marriage they have shows in their smiles and in their eyes. Bless them, you and your family. Beautifully written post Barabara and welcome back.

    Like

  28. KerryCan says:

    A bittersweet story, for sure, but I am going to choose to look at the very sweet aspects of it–they still have each other, you still have them both, there is still love evident all around! And, can I just say, that I am so happy to see you back here? I’ve missed you and your view of the world very much. Here’s hoping you’re back to stay!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Almost Iowa says:

    Love is found in the little things.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Welcome back, Barbara, I have really missed your posts but understand entirely that you have been occupied by life’s challenges. So many other readers have used the word “bittersweet” to describe your parents’ marriage, your mother’s incredible dedication to maintain some sense of familiarity and a feeling of being loved and cared for as this illness robs him of his independence and health. I am sure, you, too, as a dedicated daughter are doing your best to ease this transition period for him. Much love from across the mountains….

    Like

  31. Behind the Story says:

    It’s good to see you back. I always enjoy your posts.

    Your mother took her marriage vows: “for better or worse” seriously. Your dad is a lucky man to have such a dedicated and loving spouse.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. What a wonderful wife and mother, she knows exactly what matters most and brings most peace and pleasure.

    Like

  33. Nancy Amendolua says:

    What a wonderful man and beautiful story! My dad passes a few years ago from altimerzers, a horrible disease. He always thought I was my mom went I went to visit him. He would said emily (my mom) where have you been. She was the love of his life and it gives me comfort to know they are together again❤️😇😇

    Like

  34. Thom Hickey says:

    I have really missed the charm and humanity of your posts. So welcome back.

    Thoughts and prayers go out to your parents all your family.

    As you say say love abides and what remains of us is love.

    Best regards Thom.

    Like

  35. nrhatch says:

    Hi Barbara! I’m glad your mother is able to maintain a connection with your dad despite the forced separation. It’s hard to deal with much of what life throws at us. Sometimes all we can do is keep breathing . . . while eating brie and salami sandwiches on nine-grain bread.

    Hope that you and your family enjoy some warmth and happiness during the holidays.

    Like

  36. Nancy Jones says:

    Inspiring and beautiful! I am so glad that you shared this on November 6th. I’m sure that you are too. Prayers for you and your family. Nancy

    Liked by 1 person

  37. I was brought up around a lot of really old really ancient relative. Watching them and those who care for them is something of a gift to the younger generation. They trained us/inspired us well.
    Lovely.
    Wishing you miles of smiles, intriguing wanderings, and lots of wonder in the New Year. Cheers and onward with spirit, courage, and hope.

    Like

  38. lyrehs49 says:

    My 81 year old father has Parkinson’s also, so far is doing okay at home with Mom, but one never knows what the next couple of years will bring….

    Like

  39. Connie says:

    That is positively beautifully written.

    Like

  40. Connie says:

    Positively beautifully written and a beautiful family.

    Like

  41. Jen says:

    This is a beautiful reflection on their love and care for each other. As a former 10 year Nursing Home staff member I arrived everyday to treat each person as I would have wanted my parents to be treated. I met very beautiful families while there.
    Thanks for sharing your parents continuing love story

    Like

  42. 1010parkplace says:

    I know this must be so very difficult for both of them. Your mother’s love speaks volumes about her and their relationship.

    Like

I welcome your comments:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s