In 2004, my parents were serving an LDS Mission in England. I don’t really consider what they were doing a “mission” as per the traditional LDS church’s stance of a mission. My Dad was actually working as the Director of LDS Family Services for the United Kingdom, Scotland and Ireland. It was a JOB with a lot of stress. A different country than he was used to practicing in with many more laws and restrictions that frustrated him. No offense to any of my English friends – but Dad was not adapting well to the culture. He didn’t love the food, it was rainy and cold much of the time, and the people were rude and condescending – in his opinion. The funny thing is in his letters that he would write to us – he was always really sweet about his dislike – putting a positive spin on the things he was not enjoying.
Prior to my parents serving in this capacity – my Dad – had worked as the Director of LDS Family Services for the state of Montana. It was a stressful job. He retired early. My parents moved to Idaho Falls, Idaho – where both my parents grew up – to take care of both of their mother’s who were beginning their journey to the heavenly side.
My DAD was that son – the one that I hope I am raising – the one that was the sparkle in my Grandma’s (his mother’s) eyes. And everyone knew it. Mark (my dad) was the favorite. He retired from his job early to take care of his aging mother – at least that is why I always thought my Dad retired early. It was so tender to watch the two of them together. Grandma passed on February 10, 2001.
The focus then became my mother’s mom who had been diagnosed with leukemia. My parents had always wanted to serve a mission for the LDS church as couple missionaries. My mom was always concerned that she would end up on an Indian Reservation (I will have to tell you why she feared this in another blog post).
My Grandma Miller passed away in March of 2003, this gave my parents the ability to fulfill something they felt driven to do. My parents got their affairs in order and left for England in August of 2003. They were asked to be in England for two years – that was the plan.
My parents are pretty tight lipped about things – weaknesses were not really talked about or shared – which seems odd to me now – since my dad was a Social Worker – but he was the strong one – the fixer – the make things better guy – the suck it up butter cup – but he said it with love. A quote I remember very vividly in his office, “In life you must be hard, physically hard – but in dealing with people you must be gentle.” That was my dad. Gentle with people – strong in life. He would never admit weakness or talk about things that were changing.
I remember having a phone conversation with my mom in January of 2004 – she was concerned about my dad. She told me dad was different. There was something “not right”. Something off. Of course, I was concerned, but without being able to physically see with my own eyes, I dismissed the worry. I had my own “things” to concentrate on. I was pregnant with our youngest son.
During that year, my mother’s concern grew. Dad was misplacing things continually. His countenance was changing. He was becoming more agitated. My parents made the decision to come home – I don’t really remember or perhaps even know the actual turn of events that compelled them to come home – (note to self – ask mom). What I do know, is my mom was concerned and I believe my Dad may have been a little concerned himself.
I will never forget the day in the fall of 2004 when my home phone rang and it was my dad on the other end. “Hi honey. How are you?” dread soaked into the crevices of my entire being – my heart sank – the tone of his voice was weakness/defeat. He had been brought to his knees – I didn’t know why yet – but soon I would be brought to my knees.
“How are my grandsons? How is that sweet baby Trevor? I love those boys. I want you to know that and I love you. Sweetie. I have something to tell you. The doctor’s say I have Alzheimer’s Disease. I wanted to call you and tell you myself. I didn’t want you to hear this from anyone else but me. Lisa, everything is going to be okay.” Because dad was a fixer – in his mind – everything was going to be okay.
Dad passed away on September 20, 2012 from a dis-ease that stole him from us years before. There were moments of time that we would get him back by getting him to tell us stories of his life as a young boy. I miss him dearly. I know he is well loved and taken care of on the other side by those who passed before him and I know that is he is making sure that everything and everyone is OK on this side.
My healing awareness began, I believe, the day my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. I have been on a journey for health and well-being since that day. I am so grateful for the knowledge I have gained. The doors I have tenaciously opened. The opposition, at times, that I have felt. The friends I have gained and the enlivened journey that I choose to be on each and every day.
We are all going to experience loss and tough times. There are times when everything is NOT ok and there will be times when we can celebrate that everything IS ok. We must create compassionate space for all of our journey’s. We must hold each other in our deepest sorrows and high-five each other in our greatest victories. If we could do this for every human being that we meet, the world could be void of dis-ease.
May we become aware of our healing and begin our journey into a world free of dis-ease.