Friday, December 14, 2007

The next exit

My father died of complications of Alzheimer's disease, leaving us in baby steps. My sister compared our journey to a car trip--we were passengers in the back seat, and this little old man was driving down the interstate with his right signal perpetually flashing. We would approach an exit, thinking the journey was over, and we would pass it by yet again. Periodically, when my father's blood sugar crashed or he would fall or he would end up in the hospital for something, we would actually tool down the exit, only to re-enter the highway yet again without stopping, accelerating to merge with the flow of traffic.

When my father died, we had already received the diagnosis of dementia for my mother, who had remained at home; we had a lovely woman come in several times a week to help out and check on her. Within three or four months of his death, my mother was in the nursing home for the same reason. The journey continued. As my sister said, we got off the highway and came to a stop, but we even never got out of the car to stretch our legs.

This journey has not been easy, but it has been extraordinary. We have encountered much heartbreak. However, it has also blessed us in such unexpected ways.

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