Saturday, August 23, 2008

Another loss

My father-in-law died this morning in a hospital in Wisconsin. Of pneumonia and the frailty of old age. He was 87 years old and everyone called him Bakka. He had Alzheimer's, though he still knew who he was and mostly still remembered his family. He couldn't remember how to take care of himself so he was living in an assisted care facility. With every day, the quality of his life was becoming more intolerable, to him and to everyone who cared about him. The decision not to resuscitate had been made long ago. The end came quickly.

I am no longer married to his son and I hadn't seen Bakka in several years, but he still has a very special place in my heart. It is hard to realize that I have no place among the mourners. I am not able to share my grief with those who knew him and loved him. There is no one with whom to share memories or to celebrate the fullness of the man's life. I am not even able to comfort my own children on the loss of their grandfather, as one is in another country and the other is out of town attending a friend's wedding. It's a lonely sort of grief.

Bakka and Nana came to stay with us many times over the years and he continued to visit after she died. He could be a difficult old curmudgeon, and often was, but I've been thinking today about the way he would laugh at something one of the kids said or at some playful antic of the kitty. He had a wonderful laugh. He'd get a look on his face that was almost surprise, as if he hadn't expected to find something funny just then.

One of the last times he came to stay with us his doctor had just told him he had to give up chocolate. He was indignant. Told me that he'd already given up alcohol and red meat and coffee, even the decaf he loved so much, and he would be goddamned if he was giving up his Oreos. And then he grinned as he lifted the lid off the cookie jar. I always bought Oreos for him.

So I will quietly grieve in my own way. Just as I will always remember and love him in my own way. And it will have to be enough.

Rest in peace now, Bakka.

12 comments:

jenb said...

BCB, you have given such a lovely picture of someone who loved being with you.
You and your children will be in my thoughts and prayers.

rssasrb said...

(((BCB))) And in mine.

Merry said...

Nicely done. I'm sorry for your loss, but I like the way you gave a great picture of the man in a few short paragraphs.

My nieces and nephews never had a chance to know their grandfather, so I badgered my mother into writing down her memories of him, word pictures that would help them know the man behind the photograph. Even small details, such as a fondness for oreos, can keep the memories alive.

Hugs.

BCB said...

I'm not sure which is more heart wrenching, not being able to hold the child who can't stop crying, or not being able to hold the one who refuses to cry. Or holding the man I no longer love while both of us are swamped with shared memories and grief.

Hell of a weekend.

Thank you all for the sentiments.
Much appreciated.

McB said...

Those who are loved and remembered are never really gone. Not that the memories are any kind of substitution, but we do get to keep them. Oreos are forever.

(((you and your family)))

Theresa said...

Oh, BCB, so sorry. The memories that you share sound like very good ones. I like what MCB said, memories aren't a substitute, but we do get to keep them. Some of my best memories of my grandfather are of his laughter and kidding around with us kids.

And now I'm just rambling. I'm keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

WapakGram said...

BCB- ((((HUGS)))
So sorry we aren't there in person to give you a hug.

You gave a wonderful eulogy of Bakka.

Lou said...

{{{BCB}}} - You have my deepest sympathy. I am so saddened that you have to grieve alone.

Take care of yourself!

Bless you,
Lou

Anonymous said...

((BCB)) - hope you find peace as well.

Take care.

btuda

Scope Dope Cherrybomb said...

Oh Bcb, what a terrible loss for you. You did, as Wapak said, give a beautiful eulogy for Bakka.

I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
Love
Penny

Lori said...

I've come over here a couple times in the last day or so to try to comment. I just don't know how to say it. I never have been able to.

And I know I'm here a bit late, but I also know when you lose someone... the pain doesn't go away. Changes, yes, but it doesn't leave.

Please just know I care. I would maybe even hug you... if we were in the same room.

BCB said...

Lori, you said it just fine. Thank you.

I would maybe even hug you back.