Posts Tagged ‘loss’

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Two months ago today, I took my mother to see my father in the hospital for the last time. He was not responsive. She held his head and kissed it over and over saying, “I love you.” He died the next morning.

I never heard my parents say “I love you” to each other. My father told me he believed that if you said it often, it would lose its meaning. Ten years ago, after he had colon surgery, I vowed to tell them both I love you every time I talked to them on the phone. Mom would respond, “hmm hmm.” Dad would say something like, “me, too.” Over Covid isolation, they finally said an audible “I love you.”

But this doesn’t mean they didn’t love us or each other.

Yesterday in the dining hall of the retirement home, a resident said she’d never seen such a loving family. She said we cradled my mother. I said, “I wish I could cradle her every day.”

Alzheimer’s is trying to take my mother away from us. She knows Dad died. She knows we planted a tree in his memory. She visits it every day. However, when we took her across the hall to look at a one bedroom apartment for her to move into, she said, “Is Dad moving, too?” I hugged her and said, “No, he’s gone. But he’s in your heart.”

My brother said, “Taking up less space.” We laughed. That’s something Dad would say. He loved irony.

Then Mom said, “You suppose I could find another man?” More laughter.

Mom at the Columbarium visiting Dad on Father’s Day.

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Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved a tall.
—Brian Rhoades, 6’10”

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This weekend I attended two memorial services. One for a beloved coach gone too soon at only age 54. The other for a beloved patriarch of our church and town, passing slowly a week before his 91st birthday. In both services, these things resonated with me: community, legacy, and faith.

Brian Rhoades was a pillar of the school community at the Episcopal School of Acadiana. All three of my daughters received the caring encouragement of Coach Rhoades. Our girls were with us Friday night along with many hundreds who weathered the heat of the gym to share, remember, and cry together. Since our last graduated in 2008, we have kept some ties to the school. As sad as we all were to lose a friend, we were comforted by the closeness and love of the community there.

On Saturday, our church community came together to honor George King Pratt Munson. What a great name for such a wonderful man! We sang together and listened to the long history of Pratt’s life in New Iberia. Then we celebrated with a feast and conversation in the parish hall. Pratt’s ashes were the first to be placed in the columbarium outside in the courtyard. I love knowing that a part of him remains with us.

Both Coach Rhoades and Mr. Pratt leave behind a legacy, not only in their children and grandchildren, but in the kind of people they were. I heard words like kind, compassionate, gentle, funny, always smiling, honest, genuine, mentor, and friend. If any of us could embody half of these words, we would be grateful. When we were leaving the memorial at ESA, my husband said, “I think someone should have said, ‘Be Brian Rhoades.'” You could say that about Pratt, too. The legacy of being the best that you can be.

Just last week, our new bishop, Jake Owensby, spoke to us about faith. He said faith is plunging in to God’s grace. I love the word plunge. And plunging I did when I held Brian’s wife and Pratt’s granddaughter. What can you say? What words are there to comfort the grieving? None, really, except love. I offered love with all my being. I have faith that they are both with God now, shining like the rainbow, offering us each hope in God’s eternal grace.

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