I sat by my dad as he tried to eat his lunch.
He has great difficulty swallowing. He has little appetite for any kind of food, especially that served up at the skilled nursing center where he lives right now.
He tries, but it is so hard for him.
Strange, how it breaks my heart to watch him, but at the same time it is so good just to be with him. Sort of like those times when I was much younger and we would occupy ourselves out in the garage for hours doing. . .I can't remember what. . .we were just together. I loved those times. I think he did too.
Now we sit and visit, but with long periods of silence between us.
I'm having to come to grips with the fact that he is dying. But then, aren't we all? At times like this I realize again the importance of just "being with" a person you love.
But, back to the lunch room.
We sat at a table with his roommate, R. V. Thompson.
Dad and R. V. worked together over 50 years ago at the City of Richardson. R. V. was the Mayor. My dad served as City Secretary, a position like City Manager today. At the time, Richardson's population numbered about 1,500 or so. A few stories have been heard between them as they've shared the same room. We feel fortunate that R. V. is dad's roommate.
Also at the table was a lady who cradled a baby doll in her arms as she ate. Sad, but sweet and moving. She found comfort in some far away memory of her own children--the ones she loved the most, no doubt.
The other man who shared the table couldn't talk much, but he too was a long-time Richardson resident known by my dad and R. V. It was just good being with them all.
It was also sad. But, you know, sad is okay.
As I sat with my father, I remembered lots of visits years ago to nursing homes with youth groups. Many, if not most, of the residents we visited enjoyed our visits, but it was clear that after we left most of the residents probably didn't remember that we had been there. It hit me as I sat with my dad that it didn't matter. They knew we were there when we were there. Just like my dad.
So much of what counts most in life is all about just being there. You know?
Just being there. . .that's hard to beat.