Thursday, August 6, 2015

Go-to-Gay: Book of Life

This month, Go-to-Gay Gary Edwards is here to talk about his relationship with his (and Wade's) aging parents. You're welcome to comment with your own stories, anecdotes, memories, etc. 

Everlasting Story

Life and books have things in common. The most basic is a beginning, middle and end. The beginning goes by so fast and sometime when reading and in life we want to peek and see how it ends. I try not to do that. I try and savor the book and go on the journey with the author, just like I try to go on the journey in life being spontaneous and as free as I can. Life unfolds just like the pages in a book, some are filled with joy and laughter, some filled with drama, sorrow and life lessons. Books teach us just as life teaches us.

Being smack dab in the middle of my book of life I can look back and also look forward. I have learned, but am still learning. Wade and I now are at that stage where we are seeing and feeling middle age and also realizing our parents are at the end of their stories. We lost Wade’s Mom in 2009 and just like in any wonderful book we never wanted the last chapter to end. Never wanted to see her close the book and for her not to be with us. Wade’s Mom was like a second mother to me. I learned so much and have so many memories of her. I look back and remember but also know I have to carry what she taught forward. She is with me, but it is imperative to move forward and look forward, taking her memories, experiences and joy with me.

We have know become the parent in many ways to my Mom, Dad and Wade’s Dad. They look to us for advice, guidance, strength and hope. We are often no longer the children but the parents. The shift was extremely painful for me to watch and experience. I so desperately wanted to stay the child. It also makes me know I’m next in line. The full circle of life doesn’t slow down, it doesn’t stop. It keeps rolling.

With my parents

We help Wade’s dad who now has 24 hour care due to his dementia. The one thing I know for certain is he loves me. Every time I walk in the room, he has forgotten I am visiting and gets excited to see me. Shouting “Boy is it good to see you, when did you get here?” It makes me smile, knowing in the moment even though it will fade, he knows me and is happy. That’s the one thing I hear over and over is to be in the moment. Well, with Wade’s Dad it forces you to slow down. For him life is now all about being in the moment. He can still share the past and we talk about trips, playing cards, grilling , memories of Wade’s Mom. We have those memories and that bond, no one can take it away. He has moments too when he is clear as day. The last visit he was telling me how proud he was of Wade and also that he felt like just the other day he was 60. He asked me where all the time went. I wish I had the answer. The only thing I can think is that life goes by fast because we all embrace it, live it and love it to the fullest. Just like a great read, life can be itself a real page turner.

Wade's dad

My folks came up for a visit in mid July. My Dad, now 82, cannot drive any longer. The man who taught me how to drive and how to be the best parallel parker in the world, has now surrendered his license. You see my father was the man who worked his way through life, the man that paid and worked his way through college, getting his master’s and doctorate in education. He grew up in a poor, hard working family and worked to create a wonderful life for the family he has created. He has had many battles and the most recent for the past 12 years is Parkinson’s. He knew it was time not to drive, not to risk hurting anyone due to a slow reaction time. My dad knows he is getting toward the end of his book of life. He is now 82 and he shares everything he can with me. He wants me to know, remember every detail of the man he is and also want he has done. I savor every second I can, knowing like Wade’s Mom one day sooner than later his book will too come to an end. My Dad has always been stubborn like most men. He coached me when I was a kid, taught me how to fish, how to plant a tree. He also taught me as he has aged not to react so quickly to life, something I am still working on. I am now helping my Dad teaching him, and also helping him do the things he taught me. We went fishing when he was up and he showed me how to tie a line again and many other how-to’s. I felt as if he wants to be sure I am going to be ok, that I won’t forget, that I will always remember. To me my Dad is the definition of unconditional love, he is proud and accepts me for the man I have become. He has been my protector and now I have become his. I know when he hugs me as he leaves, that he wonders if he will see me again. He holds on longer and longer to that hug everything we visit.

My dad

My Mom just like in every good book is my heroine, my friend, and a wonderful care taker. She can make any holiday feel like it is the most warm and joyous occasion. My Mom is me in many ways and I am her. We want to be sure everyone is happy, healthy and taken care of. We can both push each other’s buttons because we are similar in so many ways, but also different. My Mom is a worrier, I am not. I try not to worry, I turn it over. Recently I was talking to a friend and she said all Moms worry, that once you have a child your head never hits the pillow the same way. It made me realize my Mom raised us and as soon as my brother and I left the house, she was the care taker for my Grandpa, then my Grandma, and now my Dad. Her job as a worrier, a caretaker has never had a vacation. She is on call 24-7 and ready to put out a fire. One day during my parent’s visit, I was walking with my Dad who is now a very wobbly walker. I was so worried he would trip, fall and get hurt. I barely remember walking around town. It dawned on me that my Mom never gets a break in her mind from the care-taking. Being a Mom and a heroine is a tough job. Later that day I talked with my Mom, I realized she does not want to be on an ending chapter. I have helped her stay updated, computers, iPhone, Skype. She has helped me and taught me about nature, gardening & baking. The one thing both her and I can’t control is time and where each character is in their book of life. We sat and talked about how overwhelmed she is as a care taker and that she has lost sight of peace and of taking time for her. I told her she has to find at least one hour a day. The other day I called and she said I’m getting ready to go out in the garden, that she kept hearing my voice say take that one hour for you. So she went out for peace, to find her one hour.

I think that is what it has to be that in life we have to find comfort and peace in the moment, that just like a book it will all come to an end. That our story is important, that no matter the beginning, middle or end, it forms our book of life. That that in life just like in a book when we close the cover, the memory of the book will last. Don’t give up on your story, make it everlasting.

My dad celebrating his birthday

Gary Edwards is the marketing and events manager for bestselling author Wade Rouse. Edwards arranges Rouse’s tour schedule, speaking engagements as well as coordinates and facilitates his writing workshops and retreats.  Additionally, Edwards has helped market and promote all five of Rouse’s books. Edwards also has a background in hospitality, and sales as well as design.   With his vast professional background and a love to listen and help friends he is a perfect storm of love and nurture. Edwards is Martha Stewart meets Dear Abby with a dash of Mrs. Doubtfire.  For more, please friend him on Facebook and Twitter.


Janine said...

I really enjoyed this. It is hard to watch our parents grow old. We really do need to live each day as it is the last. No one is promised tomorrow.

Pearl said...

Well said, Gary. Recognizing each other's chapter of the book is in itself a chapter, and you've caught that here.
Pearl (aka Peggy)

Mary Koppel said...

Beautiful sentiments well stated, Gary. In our household, we've already become the grown-ups and I can assure you - none of us are ever old enough to become orphans.
Love ya -

Tamizh said...

Nice and interesting story guys, real meaning to the question is immortality possible or not.