Today I went to a funeral for my friend's 88-year-old dad.
And his 82-year-old mom.
At the same time.
Yes, you read that right. Both of my friend's parents were found dead in their beds on Oct. 8th. They have boiler heat, and a bird built a nest in the chimney during the summer. When they turned on the heat, life took a turn. Some say a very bad turn.
I am not sure I agree. Yes, it was sad and shocking, but I can't agree with 'bad'.
Let me explain. And let me start that explanation with a little insight into both parents.
Dales' dad was a vet. Always spry and full of energy, he loved to work and was constantly helping his son work on his rental property or other ventures. He was also very handy and hands-on. There seemed to be nothing he couldn't fix, although, on more than one occasion, he and I disagreed. That was part of our connection. He never failed to bring a smile to my face with his outlook and zest for life.
Of course, eventually, age started to take its toll, and in the last couple of years, he backed away from 'hands-on' and entered the 'eyes-on' stage. Watching more than building. His hearing was almost non-existent, and he was definitely in the early stages of dementia. Basically, things you would expect from an 88-year-old.
I didn't know Dale's mom nearly as well, which made perfect sense, as she would occasionally show up to see what us 'boys' were doing but gone within the hour. Also, like many 82-year-olds, she was developing health issues. Her biggest problem was her legs. She was pretty heavy, and this took its toll on her knees and joints. Even with a walker, she struggled to go from point A to point B, no matter how close points A and B were.
Now, as a couple, they were perfect. they met when they both worked in the area mill. When they married, she quit to be a homemaker and housewife. Tom took care of the family. Working either 8's or 16's, always coming home. Never really doing anything that questioned their union. This continued throughout their life. They raised two very good, hard-working children. And as time passed, the family dynamic grew, with parents, kids, and grandkids, all being constants in each other's lives. They were the American success story.
And as the family grew older, this connection deepened. Not only from each generation calling daily to the elders to play catch-up, or in later years, check-up, but there was deep love running through their hearts. Souls were one. And as they aged, this love became a connection that was not only appreciated but a necessity for their survival.
You see, Tom and Barb not only wanted to be together, but they truly needed each other. They were a team. She was the 'brains', and he was the 'brawn'. Because of his hearing loss, she communicated to all those around her what was going on. What was desired and what was needed. Because she could barely move around, Tom became their legs. He faithfully carried it all out.
For example, need to discuss something on the phone? Call Barb. Need groceries? Call Barb who would relate to Tom, who would get the groceries. Need to keep track of something or discuss something? Barb. Need to mow the lawn, wash clothes, or take out the trash? Tom.
She was the peanut butter. He was the jelly.
She was the steak. He was the potatoes.
They were not only in love, but they were also a team. And in this case, better as a team than as individuals.
And like most elderly, they were aware that time was not on their side. They were tuned into the fact that at some point, one would leave the other, that one of their lives would become very, very sad, and much, much harder. And that this would probably happen sooner rather than later.
But then divine intervention happened. A miracle, if you can change your perspective to see it that way. Something that makes a tragic, yet heart-warming story in its own way.
You see, a bird built a home for his or her family. Up in Tom and Barbs' chimney. Not the optimal location, but a bird didn't know that, and nature keeps moving, as it should.
And the result of that nature was suddenly, Tom and Barb didn't have to worry who would be left behind. Who would suffer without the other? Who would cry themselves to sleep, possibly for weeks. Or months. Or years.
Through my eyes, they were dealt a royal flush. The ultimate winning hand. And I am proud to have known them and be a casual observer of this 'miracle'.
Because every morning I talk with God. Every morning I thank him for things in my life. Every morning I cover those in need. And every morning, I ask for this kind and loving end to my life, when my number finally comes up.
I too want the fairy tale ending, to a fairy tale life.
The life where two people marry. They raised a very close, loving, and caring family. They spent 65 years together in that marriage. Then they passed together, probably within minutes, in their sleep.
No pain. no suffering, no knowledge of what was happening.
No hospital stays for one while the other waits on pins and needles. No surgery. No hospice. No live-in help,
No need for a tearful goodbye between them.
Yes, I am sad for my friend, his family, and all left behind. But my perspective tells me, that this week, I witnessed a miracle.
God has blessed you, Tom and Barb.
And by connection, the rest of us.
(Many of us are facing the aging and passing of loved ones. Share this to offer a little hope and maybe a slightly healthier perspective to those who might benefit).