My dad died in June, 2011. My mom died in December, 2019. On this day of remembering all kinds of loss, I thought this story from years ago might help:
A few days before he died, as I was driving to Illinois, my heart was troubled. “My mom can’t be alone.” She and dad needed each other, though, to be truthful, they couldn’t do a lot for each other. I knew we were headed for some significant decisions about places to live and kinds of care. I had a lot running through my head.
I was listening to music, the music that usually helps. And then I found a talk by Donald Miller, one from a book tour a couple years ago. He talked about rewriting the story that our life is telling. I’ve listened before. I’ve read the book. But something clicked as I listened. I started thinking about my parents, about the journey I was making, about what I could do when I arrived.
I tweeted: “What if ‘honor your parents’ means for me ‘help them finish the story of their lives as well as they can.’?”
And then I started thinking about how to simply summarize the story that their lives have told.
I tweeted: “and his story is ‘i kept my word to take care of her’ and hers is ‘i kept my word to make people feel at home’”
It changed how I listened to my parents for the next few days. I was looking for the story they were telling with their lives.
I could write something new for today about Dad, but I can’t do better than his eulogy. I simply told his story. I’d invite you to follow the link to read it.
But if you don’t want to take the time, if you need something quick here, I offer this: If you are breathing and awake, you are still telling your story. If you aren’t happy with it, you can change it with, “And then he took deep breath and said, ‘It’s time.”