So, for him to suffer for the past year and a half, increasingly dependent, and growing weaker and weaker until he could no longer even feed himself or hold a newspaper, was hard to accept. My mother was with him day in and day out. I saw him at the beginning of his decline, and then again a few weeks ago - just after his heart had been restarted. Just before the DNR papers were signed.
Whatever one's person opinion of whether or not to take heroic measures to prolong the life of another, I'm sure we can all agree that QUALITY of life is very important. There is a difference between "living" and "existing." My grandfather, "Daddy Jim" had stopped living, and he knew it. He told my mother "I've had a full life." And he had. Having lived every moment of his life, he knew the difference between living and existing.
So he will be laid to rest tomorrow, but the memory of him lives on. We will miss his distinctive voice. His hearty laugh. His wisdom. The junk he would find on the train and bring to us, bless his soul.
We will celebrate his life, and honor his memory by never letting his standards fall. His size-thirteens are huge shoes to fill, and the only way we'll fill them is by also living every moment of every day of our lives.
My mother asked me to write a poem for the obituary. I wanted to share it:
Daddy Jim – “The Gift That Keeps On Giving”
We will cry no sad tears
for your life was a gift
to those of us who remain.
Touched by your kindness, your humor, your presence,
we have all been forever changed.
With love in our hearts, we celebrate your life, and all that you taught us to be:
a father, a brother, a friend like few others,
a light for the world to see.
We will not dress in black
in honor of lack
as if today were the sum of your worth.
We will wear joy
for we know we were blessed
by virtue of your birth.
You showed us that the true measure of a man
was within the span of your hands
as you cradled us all with care:
strong and steady,
always at the ready
whenever we needed you there.
And now we give back
by going forth
and living as you would have us to live:
proud and true - just like you,
what a gift to give.
--Nicole J. Butler
December 8, 2009
Sleep sweetly, Daddy Jim.
*baseball caps, old newspapers, t-shirts, mugs ... whatever someone left behind, if he thought it was salvageable, he would bring it to us. We would throw half of it away as soon as he left. The rest was actually pretty good stuff! ;o)