Two weeks ago my dad’s wife of 21 years, Jeanne, died of Alzheimer’s. She had been going downhill for sometime, and he’d finally arranged for her to enter a memory care center. This one only houses six residents at a time, so the care is constant and personal. On Monday morning she entered the facility, and by late Monday morning she was dead.
I’ll be honest–I didn’t know her that well. What I knew of her I liked, and I know she made my dad happy. They got together a short time after my stepmom died, and I don’t believe they ever regretted the decision.
Since she died I’ve called my dad nearly every day. He seems to be doing well, although we don’t delve into too much that’s particularly personal. That’s the nature of our relationship. I thought he might be getting tired of hearing from me every day, but we almost always talk for at least 30 minutes. He was Jeanne’s sole caregiver for months and months so I imagine he’s somewhat starved for conversation. Plus, I’m his daughter, so he likes talking to me. I’m lucky in that way.
I’m reminded of all the people experiencing deep loneliness during the holiday season, whether or not they’re actually alone. My mom is one of them, and despite his efforts to get out and about, I imagine now my dad is, too. I have a friend whose husband of 68 years died the day after their anniversary, which happened to land on Christmas. She has family, but freely admits that getting through the holidays is a chore.
So say a little prayer and spread a little kindness this holiday season. Your smile could make a difference. People who live alone may be reluctant to join your family for festivities, but a quiet lunch can be its own kind of celebration. Do it your way, but reach out.
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