flowers, haiku, love, photography

Confluence

daffodils-closeEdith-1981I took my favorite photo of my late wife Edith in 1981, long before she showed symptoms of the Alzheimer’s disease that would dominate our lives in the current century. I cared for her in our own home as long as possible; I visited often during her final years in a nursing home.  This post is about one aspect of the endgame that may be helpful to others in a similar situation.

In Edith’s childhood home city, the Ohio River emerges from the confluence of smaller rivers.  Three streams flow together at the end of this post.  Please bear with me.

  1. The plantings around our house were few and scraggly when we moved in.  Over the years, I planted trees and shrubs while Edith planted bulbs.  Lots of bulbs.  She was especially proud of the many kinds of daffodil, blooming at various times thruout the season.  Long after she stopped gardening, she enjoyed the flowers every year.
  2. When Edith was in custodial care but still aware of who and where she was, the saddest moments came when she said she wanted to go home.  I distracted her as best I could, never said anything to indicate that her condition precluded that, and never said that I would “go home” when it was time to end a visit.
  3. Many years ago, we had seen ads for cemetary plots, discussed what was and was not a good way to use land, and decided that we preferred cremation.  When I began considering specific arrangements for Edith in 2014, I found that there are astonishingly many styles of urn available online.  Stardust Memorials had one that would have pleased Edith as a vase for a bouquet of her daffodils.  Packed carefully and shipped promptly, the urn was ready when the dreaded phone call came.

daffodils-medium

“Are you ready to bring Edith home now?”  The funeral director’s question at the end of the calling hours brought me a sense of relief.  She could come home at last, in our own car.  There was time for me to work on some haiku while she waited for reunion with her favorite flowers in the spring of 2015.

Widower’s Song #1

No haiku can say
how strange this is: her journey
ended before mine.

Widower’s Song #2

Warm earth welcomed her,
ashes among daffodils
she planted and loved.

Update [2017-01-15]

In response to Sometimes Stellar Storyteller Six Word Story Challenge:

I scattered
her ashes
among daffodils.

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13 thoughts on “Confluence

  1. Thank you for sharing such a personal story. In the limited time we have shared I believe I can confidently say that Edith was a very fortunate person to have you as her husband. You are kind and gentle and care about other people’s emotions and well being. I’m certain you helped provide Edith with the best quality of life possible under the circumstances.

    Since there are neural pathways that integrate the cognitive brain, heart and GI tract I believe Edith was capable of understanding and appreciating all you did for her even though the cognitive portion was unable to convey this understanding. “Gut” instincts and “Heartfelt” feelings continue to respond within people with advanced cognitive impairment. I hope it brings you comfort knowing so much existed within Edith (right up to the end) even though our limited awareness is incapable of recognizing this. Search your own heart and “gut” and you will realize communication far exceeds the limitations of cognitive reasoning.

    I am so sorry you had to experience this difficult path in life. I hope the future is as kind to you as you have been to others (including me.)

    The poems are beautiful. They offer a symbiotic balance of despair and contentment. I hope sharing them with the world places a smile on Edith’s face. She will forever, reside in your heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Mel. This was poignant for me because my mother is developing something, dementia, Alzheimer’s. They actually haven’t diagnosed it yet. She is going thru tests. But she is loosing memory whatever it is and it is agonizing. She is scared and knows something is wrong but can’t quite figure out what. I am learning what to say, and not. The natural tendencies usually aren’t comforting to her so I am learning how to be.

    Edith is beautiful, and so, so are the flowers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, the lack of definitive tests for Alzheimer’s and other dementias is agonizing. I wish U and your mother well in this difficult time.

      One thing that is surprisingly helpful is physical activity. Edith was more alert and coherent when we played catch with a small beachball. Likewise for Edith and several other nursing home residents when a physical therapist seated them around a small round table and had them roll a balloon or soft fuzzy ball to each other.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such kindness and love you showed Edith until her last day. Being loved is something that needs no words. I enjoyed reading your post and beautiful haiku poems. I’ve always admired your mind; now I also adore your heart. xo

    Liked by 1 person

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