Tag Archives: parents

Loss of Parents

Out of the Storm

A new book, Out of the Storm, was published about a week ago. It’s an anthology of short stories, winners in a short story competition hosted by a Texas chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers and HopeSprings Books. I have a short story in that book, “A Rumspringa Storm.”

I received my box of books three days ago. There’s something special about seeing the first book you have published and holding it in your hands. In this case I had written only one of the stories. But it’s still exciting. I won’t be making any money from the sale of the book. The proceeds will go to a scholarship fund for the American Christian Fiction Writers. It feels good.

As I thought about the significance of the book and its title, I realized that I’m coming out of a storm of my own. Over the past two years my family has been through one crisis after another. My mother died in April of 2013, and my father died last month. My father had dementia and was in the nursing home while my mother died with cancer. Over the last two years my father’s dementia had slowly robbed him of any dignity and all of his memory. His Parkinson’s disease had slowly worsened to the point that he could barely feed himself. He’s in a better place now. That’s where he wanted to be. He’s with God. And he’s with Mom.

As I think back over the last two years and my life during that time, I remember how turbulent it was. Mom’s unexpected diagnosis of colon cancer, then her quick descent and early death. Family issues and conflict that always seem to strain family ties. Then problems with Dad’s health at any hour of the day or night. Phone calls during vacations. Always wondering what would pop up next. And then watching him die with complications of influenza and pneumonia, knowing there was nothing we could do.

Now there is an empty feeling, a calm after the storm. But it is unsettling. All of the connections to the past are gone with Mom and Dad gone. It feels like a space with no landmarks, disorienting. Which way do we go? Where are we, even? What do we do next?

Conflict with family will continue…for awhile. Time for things set aside in the past couple years will return. Life will go on. But an emptiness will persist in my heart.

God’s presence is needed now more than ever. And His promise to never leave us is the foundation I depend on.

I’m sad that neither my mother nor my father lived to see my first published book. My next book, Mark of the Fire, is dedicated to Dad and uses the theme that was his favorite Bible passage to recite: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

I now realize my father gave me the advice I needed for this period of my life. The storm is over. Now what? I hear a voice telling me, “Trust the Lord to guide your path. You are now out of the storm.”

Special Moments with Parents

Sparkles of Clarity – Glimpses of Sanity

Two days ago I visited my father in the extended care facility. He has Parkinson’s dementia and needs twenty-four-seven care. The dementia unit at the facility gives him excellent care, but it is still depressing to visit.

First, there is the guilt of putting him in the “nursing home” when he made it clear (before his dementia became severe) that he wanted to be taken care of at home. Then there is the reality and sadness of his condition, sitting in a unit where everyone is napping or staring off into space. The residents are there, but the mind is empty. Such a sad disease.

But the most frustrating part is the inability to communicate. If he is awake, which is only half of the time, he can’t carry on a coherent conversation. Most of the time my boring voice puts him to sleep. And when he does stay awake, he doesn’t have anything to say.

Two days ago was different. Dad was awake. He was happy to see me. He clung to my hand and wouldn’t let go. He told me repeatedly that he loved me and how happy he was to see me. He even made a few brief forays into philosophy, mentioning the difficulty of finding Biblical truth in an evil world. He hadn’t been that “with it” for a year.

I realize that Parkinson’s dementia, in particular, has it’s on and off periods. But this was so out of character for Dad, that it brought moisture to my dry eyes. And it reminded me of the final connection with my mother while she was still alive.

The icing on the cake came when one day later I talked to my sister. She visits Dad almost every evening. Yet Dad doesn’t remember for five minutes that either of us has visited. She had visited Dad the evening after I had been there (in the morning). When she greeted him, he asked, “Where’s Steve?”


What special memories do you have of time spent with a parent or parents?