We begin our lives in birth. We end our lives in death. In between, we live a life that is not always what we think we want, but often gives us more than we ever could believe we could have.
When Dad had a spinal stroke in 2007, we knew that the long-term prognosis was there was no long term. It was fall, not quite two months after he had learned he was going to be a first-time great-grandfather. The day it happened, he had driven five hours to a board meeting, and then, instead of staying for the evening events, he drove five hours home again. He knew something wasn’t right. But he went down to the basement to ride his exercise bike, like he did every night. Mom found him on the floor, the bike on top of him, a short time later.
In a few seconds, Dad’s life changed from being involved in a half-dozen major projects that kept him out of the house eight-and-a-half days a week, as Mom called it, to being bed-ridden.We lived in-between the beginning of one life and ending of another, and the in-between brought many more changes. During that time, Dad moved from the stroke unit ICU to the stroke unit of the University hospital, to rehab at a hospital closer to home, to a nursing home.
It was good, I thought, to have the baby in our lives, to embrace the beginning of another life. Dad and I both thought, for a while, that this new addition to the family would be a boy. As though we knew a new male needed to enter our family before he left it. It seemed fitting that the circle of life continue on.
The first great-grandbaby was born at the end of the same week Mom moved from the acreage in the country, where the distance to neighbors was measured in large fractions of a mile, to a condo in the city, where the space between neighbors is a thin wall.
The baby grew, learned to walk, to talk, to feed herself toddler-style. She was joined by a brother.
By then, Dad was in hospice care, the chronic infections that often come with extensive paralysis had permeated some bones. Treatment options were harsh, and immediately debilitating, and at best would allow him to live in order to die from something else.
Dad held his great-grandson for the first and last time at two weeks of age. We were all together for Mom and Dad’s 57th wedding anniversary. Dad was proud, and happy, in that bittersweet moment of celebrating a long married life together, the time in-between the start of one new life, and of another one about to end.
This post is part of ‘5 Minute Friday’ – today, on the theme: In Between
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