. . . you can see the stars. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
My favorite quote – which I share again tonight for my mother, who is an extraordinary human being. For almost three years she has taken on the honorable task of being one of her parents’ caregivers. I only walked in the caregivers’ shoes for 9 months and can not begin to understand what it is to give for such an extended time. I do know that it is a job requiring great patience, high energy, mountains of stress, juggling a never ending list of to-do’s – and no one can prepare you for it. No one can brace you for the sometimes combative nature of your patients. There are no warning labels that come with the doctor appointments, the medication schedule, the fiscal responsibilities. Most of all, when the end comes – well, it just does. You can’t change the course those final days run.
What you do find yourself doing is pulling from someplace deep inside. I don’t know that it is strength. It’s more like an anchor. A force that holds you in place and keeps you focused on each moment and each person involved and most of all, focused on the human being you know and love as you let him go. The world swims around you as you methodically handle each task while the clock ticks down. I know – I was there not that long ago. And my mother was there with me. She stood by my side as the doctors told us there was nothing left to do, their eyes blood shot from their own tears.
This Sunday, My Aunt Jan sent out an email to the family, letting us know that Pop-Pop was in the final stages of his life. I called Mom Monday night to see how she was doing, how the family was doing, how Mom-Mom was doing, how Pop-Pop was doing. The conversation turned to my desire not to see him in his final days. Keith’s final days are still so strongly etched into my memory that I fight to remember how he was when he was healthy. Mom comforted me with a tone in her voice hauntingly familiar to my own tone while on the phone with Brandon as I told him he didn’t need to see his father like that. And then I did the one thing I didn’t want to do – I started crying – because I know what she is facing, because I know what Mom-Mom will soon go through, because I always believed that because my mother showed me how to live one’s life as a strong, giving, caring rock to those she loves, I was able to navigate through those final days of Keith’s life.
Pop-Pop passed away at 4:50 this morning. Where he is now there are Ritz crackers with butter, endless pie, children snuggling with him in his recliner as he watches Wheel of Fortune, a garage full of odds and ends that need re-engineering or recycling, and of course, a sailboat named Sweetie. He’ll have to wait for the original Sweetie, Mom-Mom, to join him but I bet he’ll be ok with it. He knows that she is in the steadfast hands of their children, his eldest daughter at the helm.
Wayne Russel Geib, Sr.
January 10, 1928 – September 13, 2012