Winnie the Pooh said, "If you live to be 100, I hope to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you."
My mom passed away two months ago today. She had fought cancer for 2 1/2 years. The last 2 years she battled Lung Cancer. She fought with dignity, grace and above all humor. In the end she was tired and she was ready. We were ready. While no one wants to lose someone they love, there comes a point where you no longer want to watch them suffer either. That is how it was with my mom. We were prepared. We had mourned the loss of who our mother was. The person she became in the end was not our wife or our mother. So, when she passed away we were happy for her that the suffering had ended.
When my mom was sick my dad never left her side. He was amazing. He did everything she needed him to do and sometimes he even drove her nuts. They were married one month shy of 57 years. In the days and weeks since she passed away, my sister and I have tried to spend as much time with our dad as we can. He is 81 years old. He is healthy. He is starting to get out again. He even went to Romeo's again this month. Romeo's stands for Retired Old Men Eating Out. They go out to breakfast once a month and do what old men do when they get together.....whatever that is. Probably the same thing young and middle-aged men do when they get together....only with more wrinkles!
We have started to take some of my mom's things out of the house. My dad has been fine with that. After all, now some of HIS things might fit into the bedroom closet. We have taken him out to lunch, to the mall, to see his granddaughter's play etc. We have learned things about him that we never knew.
Before my mom got sick I used to wonder what on earth I would ever do with my dad if my mom died first. I didn't know him that well. He was quiet and rarely had much to say. If you called and he answered the phone he usually said, "Let me get your mother." Hours of sitting in waiting rooms slowly took care of that. I learned that my dad attended one of the first computer schools that the Navy ever ran. Funny, because he doesn't even own a computer. He told me about the time he accidentally stole a car. He told me about places he had been while he was in the Navy and made it sound rather glamorous. He talked about his childhood and my uncles and aunt when they were young. The other day we were talking on the phone about a Mexican restraunt that we used to eat at when I was a kid. I asked my dad if it was still there. He looked in the phone book and said that he didn't see it listed anymore. We talked about how he used to buy us Mexican jumping beans when he paid the bill. Then he told me that he used to eat lunch there all the time when he was stationed at North Island, but that my mom didn't know it. I laughed and asked him why? He said, "Well she always packed my lunch and I didn't want her to know that I had thrown it away on those days." That really made me laugh.
On the outside, my dad is doing amazing, but how can you be married to someone for almost 57 years and not feel like your world has stopped spinning when they are gone? Some days when I leave him I feel so guilty. I am going home to my everyday life that really hasn't changed. I try to call him everyday even if it's just to say hi and to have a nice day. My heart breaks when I think of how quiet his house must be, even for a quiet man. I fear meals wouldn't taste the same without someone to share them with. One day he told me that I was going to think he was crazy, but that in the middle of the night he had woke up and he thought he heard my mom coughing. I doubt that he is crazy perhaps just lucky.
I can't imagine my life without my husband. He is my best friend, my rock and my soul mate. I already dread the getting old process for fear he will do it faster than me. I think that I too shall take the Winnie the Pooh approach and whatever age my husband shall live to be, I want to live to be that age minus one day.