Laurelle, my father’s hospice nurse, sits next to Dad, asking questions, “How did you sleep? How often did you wake, and was it because of pain?”
He is old, forgetful, dying of cancer, his answers are slow, but she is patient, respectful, it’s all I can do not to go to the chair where she sits and bow before it.
It’s 1, 2, 3, 4, down her list. Suddenly she asks him, “What is your favorite song?” He thinks longer than usual, then announces, “Amazing Grace.”
My mother has been dead a while. Been a long time since her piano was played. The hospice nurse finishes her questions and then sits at my mother’s piano and begins playing Amazing Grace for my father.
He sits next to her on the piano bench. He closes his eyes and goes away to all those layers of life before this one.
An Unclenched Hand
My father grew up 1930’s rural poor, everybody chasing security. Life was for work, and rest for heaven. His grandfather was a go-getter. His father was a go-getter. He was supposed to be a go-getter too, but somehow, he became something else, a go-giver.
He dropped things-that-can’t-wait to marry people and bury people. He gave his time, his emotions, his counsel, his sleep, his days off, his I’d-rather-be-doings to people that God so loved the world for…
My father became a watering can, spent his life pouring. Never full, never empty, never caught him being refilled.
We kids were a drain, his wife was a drain, and Out There were all those people that didn’t know about All Those Other People, who were one-at-a-time taking from the little he had…
And yet, he never went dry.
He was an unclenched hand.
I watched my father all these decades, curious about his odd priorities. When I was a young adult, my father looked like a chump. Now, as his life ends, I see a shrewd investor, who has laid up treasure in heaven.
Such An Honor, She Says
We didn’t know anything about hospice. My sister got a phone call, from a preacher’s daughter, who is now a hospice nurse, who’d heard about my father at church, and wanted to be The One.
Laurelle meets my father, grabs his hands in hers, and tells him, “It is going to be such an honor to care for you.”
I see, I see, I see.
The smart strategy is to realize that your life is a gift, and present it back to the Giver, acting on your faith, that truly, Father Knows Best. That’s what my father did early. I couldn’t catch him if you gave me another 50 years.
We’re early in this dying stuff. What is the value, of my father’s clean conscience? What is the dollar value of No Regrets?
I stand apart and watch what God has joined together…my dying father and his appointed hospice nurse, two givers, called for High Duty, where one walks the other to the edge of life…
Folks, I am in High Church. What an honor to have this seat.
That’s How I Wrote It
That’s how I wrote it, 8 years ago. Wrote it with the truth I had. 8 years later, I have accumulated more truth.
I trust healing more than ever. I remember my first big death, way back when, felt like a hole too big to ever fill, but it filled. I’ve had many hurts since, but I’ve found that I never hurt the same way twice.
I once thought loss disqualified me, as if the Entire Me was now less than before, but healing is not just a recovery of the old normal, it’s mysteriously multiplying. I trust the healed places, more than the untouched places. I don’t feel patched, I feel welded.
Healing is pitiful slow, but we’re dealing with a God who plays the ultimate long game. We don’t want the pain to be wasted, and God seems to honor that, not in prolonging it, but in doing it right, healing not just for Now, but healing for the Future, for other hurts up ahead, that we’ll now be less vulnerable to, because we healed this one, the right way.
As you age, losing makes you refocus on things you can’t lose. Human life is however many years of free will, and then we end up being a sharp dressed corpse, vulnerable to whatever is next.
Older I get, the more my prayers become, “Help me get this life stuff right.” What matters to God is what matters. Simple as that. What my father got right was being aligned with God’s priority – people. You can’t go wrong, doing His other children right.
How ‘bout A Prayer
Help us get life smart
Quit competing with You
For who knows best.
You are the Maker
the All of All
Get us aligned
Your values, our values.
Help us simplify our lives
You put us here to be ourselves
Help us be our best selves
Which can only happen with You.
This concludes this edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories. Find more of Uncle P’s writings, (one every morning) on the Eightyone Facebook page.
Copies of Uncle P’s three books (soon a 4th …just in time for Christmas…hint, hint…) can be found at Expressions, 3100 Ryan Street in Lake Charles, Flock o’ Five, 217 E. Thomas, Sulphur. Need books mailed, or just want to give Uncle P some unsolicited advice, he can be reached at email@example.com.