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A couple of things recently have resonated with my life this past year. The first was hearing the Brahms German Requiem last weekend, sung by the magnificent Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus. They are preparing to perform it with the Berlin Philharmonic under Donald Runnicles, the ASO's principal guest conductor, and this was a warm-up concert with the Atlanta Symphony. It was a wonderful performance--the chorus was in top form. It's a piece of music I love, and can let just wash over me. This time, though, I found myself following along with the German text and the translation, and thinking about my father. (Who would also have loved the performance, if he could have heard it.) Particularly this passage "...that [the dead] may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them."

A couple of days later I was reading Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life, one of the recent books begat by blogs. I haven't been a regular reader of her blog Orangette for that long, but I have been linked there periodically from some of the food blogs I do follow and liked her style and recipes. That was what led me to request A Homemade Life from the library. I was enjoying my read (and wanting to cook almost every recipe she included), and then hit the essays on her father's illness and death. It was so very similar to my father's--going into the hospital fully expecting a cure, or for life to continue as it had been for at least the immediate future. And instead never emerging, never really getting out of a hospital bed. This passage in particular hit a chord:

"He died the way I guess anyone would want to go: gently in the end, and fast. But sometimes I can't believe what he had to go through to get there, or that he became what he became: a body in a bed, immobilized, melting away. No one sits around and guesses how their parents will die. I certainly didn't. I didn't know my father would lie down in a hospital bed and never walk again, or that he would stare at me the way he did one day, his blue eyes swimmy and knowing. But he got there. He got through it. And he got out.

I won't tell you that it wasn't hard. You already know that. I was so numb sometimes that my hands stopped working, just locked themselves into funny pinched fists. But then there was the gratitude, a sort of low-grade queasy gratitude, that he was free."


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 6th, 2009 01:04 am (UTC)
Oh, wow. My father died sixteen years ago last April, after a series of illnesses. What finally killed him was a stroke. I know exactly what she means. It was so hard to watch him through the last couple of years.

I miss him still.
Nov. 6th, 2009 04:11 am (UTC)
this. just this.

I never in my life imagined that my mom would end up the way she did - bed bound, with round the clock medication. The last few weeks where she wasn't *there* any more - those were the hardest thing I have ever had to live through.

But looking back - it went by *so* fast compared to what we were thinking we would have to prepare for.

In early June, my brother and I were talking about taking turns being at home - a month at a time, switching off, so that I wouldn't lose my green card (like can happen if I leave the US for more than 6 months at a time) and so that we could, y'know, keep our jobs.

A week later, we were thinking, maybe we'll have a couple months left - so we'll just stick it out as long as it takes - we weren't talking about leaving and coming back - things were changing too fast.

A week later, we were being told that we were looking at *weeks* maybe months.

A week later, it was *days* and we were praying that it would be over soon because she was no longer *living*, just, her body hadn't turned off yet.

A week later, it was over.

Nov. 11th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC)
Shared interests like the music, the zoo, the botanical gardens, etc. will help maintain your sense of connection. They can be sources of longterm comfort. You may even take them in new directions on your own.
Nov. 15th, 2009 06:11 pm (UTC)
I'm going to a Los Angeles Master Chorale concert a week from tonight, & I'll get you a copy of Lux Aeterna if you'll send me your address - I didn't save it from all the times we've bookswapped.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


Nancy Barber

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