I have my cat, Shadow. I have my bird, Taffy. I have my newest addition my dog, Scooter. And I have my father in law who I fondly call Pops. Happy Mother’s day to me!
For the first time in a long time, the other day I found myself really wanting Jesse. I hadn’t felt that in a long time, but as the weeks go by and I continue to notice Pops declining I wonder how I will handle the end of his life. I don’t feel strong enough. This week was especially challenging as I noticed Pops slipping more and more into that childlike state that we often here about with the elderly. I was driving home after work and had just had a conversation with Pops and had asked him if he could test his alert button that he wears around his neck, as he had just moved to a different apartment in his assisted living facility. He told me he couldn’t do it and after I explained that after we hung up all he needed to do was to push his button and tell them he was just testing it, he again told me he could not do it. So I asked him if we could do it together when I would visit the next day and he agreed. It struck me how this once confident man who several years back had told me to “piss up a rope” (that’s a whole different story), now needed me to hold his hand while he tested his alert button. I suddenly doubted myself and the strength that I have and found myself wanting Jesse to be here to support me as I support Pops through the end of his life. And then I felt so crazy for having this thought, because if Jesse was still here, I would not feel so close to Pops. Jesse brought us together and my love for him meant that I would not ask him to choose between me and his dad. We all moved in together and become our own family. It was a different sort of family than any I had known, but we were family and genuinely cared about each other, something I had not experienced in a very long time and something I don’t experience from most of my own family. When Jesse died, it was heartbreaking for both Pops and I. I promised both Jesse and Pops that I would not abandon the old guy and I have not. In fact he is a big part of what has kept me going this past 18 months and maybe that is also part of my fear in facing his death. There were many weekends in the beginning of this grief journey that I stayed in my PJs all day long for 2 days, finally to put some clothes on and head out to check on and visit Pops. He was the only reason I left the house on many, many weekends. He kept me going. Gave me a reason to live and continue on without the love of my life. His moving to assisted living just a few months before Jesse died was the biggest blessing. No longer responsible for his 24-7 care, I found it easy to go and joyfully help him with tasks that he needed. We became even closer as we are all each other have. Yes, I have family in 2 other states, but most of them are not close with me or even involved in my life. It is a mutual decision, I guess. I don’t really understand it, but I am learning to accept it. Pops’ daughter is in another state and unable to help him and his stepson, who lives a couple hours away, does not seem interested in being of help. So yes for all intense purposes, Pops and I are it. And that is what made me feel crazy. If Jesse were still alive, I don’t think Pops and I would have developed the closeness that we have. He will be 93 years old 5 weeks from today. We know the end is near. He is a sweet, kind, gentle old soul and I can just hope that I am strong enough to be present for him as he exits this earth. I know I will have to do it without my Jesse, yet I also know he will be there in spirit and waiting to greet his dad with open arms in Heaven.