Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Love (04/27/06)
TITLE: No Greater Love
By Trish Jones
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Time has taken its toll on Daddy’s health. He was diagnosed with emphysema due to smoking in his earlier years and suffers from allergies which, along with financial difficulties, forced them to leave the rural life in Colorado years ago and move to Arizona for a more conducive and less demanding lifestyle. The change in altitude worked well for them. Daddy had always dreamed of a life where he and Momma could relax and work outside together tending to a well kept garden with fruit trees, flowers and rose bushes. In a way it was still like farming but on a much smaller scale. Love and happiness abounded and radiated throughout their home. Their yard became a frequent stop for neighbors passing by anxious to see their latest improvement or newest rose bush. During that time their health was still good enough that they could do what they enjoyed most and always be ready to lend a helping hand to any of their close friends and neighbors in need.
Years later their life as they knew it began to change in ways they never expected. Daddy’s eyesight began deteriorating and it was becoming difficult for him to continue enjoying his hobbies with the same enthusiasm and perfection he was known for. He was diagnosed with macular degeneration and realized that his love of woodworking would be curtailed and gardening would become a challenge over the years to come. Momma was starting to have her own health problems and began suffering a great deal with knee complications which later resulted in more than one knee replacement.
At this stage in their life another move to another state was thought to be the best for both of them. My oldest sister was living in Texas and my parents thought moving near her was the right choice for them before their health declined any more.
My parents have lived in Texas for the past five years. Daddy’s emphysema and allergies force him indoors when the climate is humid or the pollen is heavy. When she is not outside with Daddy, Momma spends more and more time sitting in her chair watching TV and sleeping. Her short term memory is gone. She easily gets confused and says things that do not make sense. She gets upset easily and unknowingly takes her frustrations out on Daddy. She gets paranoid when she thinks someone else is in the house. When something has made her nervous she repeats herself more frequently. She constantly feeds her dog from the table but only remembers doing it once. To those who are unfamiliar with dementia or Alzheimer’s, this may seem comical. But to Daddy and those closest to Momma, including myself, it is painfully heartbreaking. Daddy is suffering the loss of someone he has loved beyond measure his entire life. He prays every morning for a good day. He prays every night for a good night. In the beginning he could not understand what was happening to Momma. He prayed for things to change so she would get better. Now he prays to get through another day.
Daddy rubs Momma’s back every night after they go to bed to help her relax. He sits in the living room beside her and watches reruns of the same shows over and over because she loves watching animals. He loves to listen to gospel music but foregoes it because the change in routine upsets her. He prays for patience with her when she repeatedly puts on the same clothes day after day or tries to answer the remote when the phone rings. When the stress gets to be too much for him, he quietly goes to another room to be by himself. He loves her so much. He tries his best to take good care of her. He helps her with her shower, her clothes, her coffee and the remote. He hugs her; he kisses her and makes her laugh. For her it’s a wonderful moment, for him it’s a memory that’s cherished forever.
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