My father was a man of few words - but the love and respect he inspired in those who knew him spoke volumes. He never put himself first and he never complained, not even when Parkinsons began to slowly take away his independence.
As the oldest of 17 children, and the father of 5 his life was never quiet - and he liked it that way. He had a smile that melted my heart and he loved to laugh. In February this year my dad and I laughed so much we cried while watching a Jerry Seinfeld stand up dvd. We watched all the extras because we didn't want any joke to go unappreciated. It was one of my favourite nights of the visit.
The first couple of months after my Mom died I think Dad put all of his energy into being strong for us, and shortly after we left in March he started to fade. He was in a beautiful care home and had visitors every day but without my Mom he was lost and within 2 weeks he was admitted to the local hospital where he stayed until his death. I didn't make it home in time but my sisters were both there - and surrounded by his amazing brothers and sisters he was never alone.
My father suffered from Parkinson's for many years but he died of a broken heart. My parents had been married for almost 55 years, and as Parkinsons progressed she took the best care of him that anyone could.
As the priest said at his funeral - "I imagine that at the Pearly Gates today, Elsie has pushed St Peter aside and is saying "It's ok, I've got this one". She's standing there with her arms outstretched as Herman strides up the stairs to be with her again."
I miss them both so much, but it brings me comfort to know they are where they belong - together.