Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine's Day True Story

This is a photo of my parents, taken more than 60 years ago. I'm not sure what the occasion was, but it may have been their engagement portrait.

They met, 65 years ago today, on a blind date.  My father brought my mother a box of chocolates. That was 1947.

They courted for several years, my mother not at all sure she wanted to marry this young man. He had just returned from a stint in the Navy during WWII and had just a High School education.  She had been more educated than he, was working as a draftsman and helping to support her mother and younger brother and sister.

My father wore her resistance down with charm and persistence and they married in 1955.

I am spending some time with them this week, in the lifecare community they moved to a few years ago. My father is on dialysis and my mother is struggling with dementia.  She needs a lot of help and support to accomplish both her physical care and to stay connected with the people around her.  My father is there, by her side every day and will not think of moving her to a more supportive level of care because he doesn't want to be apart from her.

They have assistance in their home, but I fear it is not enough.I worry that my father does not get the support he needs.

What breaks my heart is not their frailty. We all get old.  We will all someday die.  No, what breaks my heart is watching my father's grief at losing the woman he has known for more than six decades, even as he must take on the role of caregiver for the vulnerable and confused person she is becoming.

What started with Valentine's Day and a box of chocolates has become perhaps an even more romantic story of enduring love and dedication.

Happy Valentine's Day, Mom and Dad.

I love you.

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