Tuesday, May 14, 2019

A life well lived

May 14, 2019

And the number of his days were accomplished. 

My stepfather has left this world. He made my mother very happy, and that's the highest praise I could ever give him. 

Jack had a terrible childhood. Think Charles Dickens and you wouldn't be far off. His mother died in childbirth due to the refusal of his father to believe the doctors and get her to a hospital when she went into labor. Consequently, Jack was raised by the women in a small, tight-knit community. His father paid various ladies to house and feed him, but he became everyone's dinner guest - and farm hand. He worked hard as a boy. His father drank himself to death when Jack was about seventeen and from then until he married my mother, he looked after his step-mother, a woman he came to respect.

He graduated from high school and immediately did a six-year stint in the Navy. He sailed around the world and to Antarctica twice. He didn't talk about it much because he didn't like life on a big boat.  But the Navy taught him electronics and he eventually retired from one of the communications giants. 

Mom had been widowed for ten years when she married Jack. They promised each other twenty happy years and that's about what they had. Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Jack cared for her until we knew she needed a care facility. Caring for her took an enormous toll on him. 

He went downhill after Mom left the house. He was lonely and depression set in. When he tripped over a throw rug and broke his hip, his decline was rapid. 

I got the call this past Monday morning. The lady who cleaned his house found him beside the bed. It's not what I would have wished for him but we don't get to choose for ourselves much less anyone else. Passing on in his sleep would have been my preference. I wish that peace for everyone. 

And so the arrangements are made. My mother will live out her days not knowing what happened and this is okay. Alzheimer's Disease is a horrible affliction. When I speak to her of Jack, she asks me, "who's that?" To tell her he's passed may bring an emotional upset that lingers. She would know she's upset but not remember why and so become even more upset. In the early days of her affliction, she spoke of the white fog. It must be a terrible place in which to dwell. 

Now I come to the time to settle my stepfather's affairs. I agreed to it many years ago and I'm thankful it took so long to arrive. I'm more prepared than I was back in 1993. This too will be accomplished. 

For all the trials and tribulations that came his way, Jack felt he'd had a good life. When all is said and done, we can't ask for more than that.

KC Kendricks

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