Over the years, I've watched many of you share the loss of a loved one, an ache in my heart residing for each of you every time. Our dad, Eldon, passed away this weekend, ushering us into a club of which we'd prefer to decline membership.
If only he could’ve stayed longer to make more memories together! I’m so glad that he’s free from the cruelty of dementia though, now whole, complete, and hanging out with Jesus as a relative phrased it. This dementia nonsense can just take a punch to the gut and lay down for the count permanently already. He’s been struggling so much since early 2020 when the pandemic shut down all the things that brought him life like trips to the YMCA with friends. I felt like I lost him then as a rapid decline was apparent in his faculties and personality, though this long goodbye has shielded me in a way. He was a best friend and had this happened a handful of years back suddenly, I would’ve been turned topsy-turvy. We've been faithful to see him all the more since his world was made smaller, with multiple visits and outings per week up until the end, honoring him for all the good he gave us. He was once an avid daily reader of the Bible, of books on history, loving classical music, British television via PBS, crosswords, and Jeopardy most nights. He was witty, interjecting the perfect one-liner with great timing. Dementia and withering eyesight stripped the ability to follow a narrative from page to page or screen to screen rendering his favorite things no longer possible.
So, what remained? His knowledge of who we were never left, and his love for family and the Lord. I got him the game Bananagrams, allowing him to build words when we'd go for (decaf) coffee. Though he rarely spoke, the words would spill out on the table, always, always starting with the spelling of Eldon Clark Davis, Tina, Deborah, Shane, Edie, and Carol often then followed by God, Lord, Jesus, and love. Funny, poignant, and random word pairings occurred on the regular as well, the juxtaposition of words creating pairings like wax Jesus, joy kit, and extra gothic.
The most profound thing I've taken from watching my dad's experience with dementia is that despite all of his regular to-doings coming to a halt, seemingly rendering him ineffectual, I've found that the stillness forced on him allowed him to do some of the most important work of his life. That of prayer, yes, as heard in that phrase "thoughts and prayers" that's become so synonymous in the media as a verbal bandaid shallow in worth. Don't believe that lie, please don't turn from truth, humankind's failings and hypocrisies aren't a reflection of God's heart, only of the freedoms we've been bestowed to choose what we may. Though sitting in a chair and then later lying on a bed, our dad increased his prayers. He'd pray for every plane flying overhead along its nightly flight pattern. He'd pray for every vehicle and pedestrian that passed by.
Thank you for reading, for, even though this kinda stuff can be uncomfortable to experience and difficult to address, is there anything more real to speak of than that of existence and creator? I invite you to look through some of the photos of our dad, and some of the notes he made over the years. Above all else, he'd wish for you to know Jesus and to walk in freedom and love.