After Dad passed, I contacted as many of his friends that I could find to let them know. This is when I recieved a second wave of gifts. Dad had lots of friends! I mean LOTS! It seems that once Dad made a friend, you were a friend for life. He had friends from his childhood that he still kept in contact with, not to mention his 'golfing buddies', and even Mom's co-workers! I was blessed to have found Dad's old-fashioned rolodex wheel. Through scratched out phone numbers and worn out yellowed cards, I was able to contact MORE friends.
The gifts continued! Condolences, well-wishes, blessings, offerings of support and meals. I was hearing and reading about my Dad through the memories of others. Heart-felt stories, funny stories, typical "Jimmy" antics! Family members shared childhood memories. Some of these stories were new to me, while some were not. I listened to them and heard them differently this time. I appreciated these stories, longed for them.
Dad struggled with his health for a very long time. He was lovingly and jokingly called 'our kitty'. He overcame Polio as a child, beat the West Nile virus, lived with Diabetes and Myasthena Gravis. Later, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's. Then...he broke a hip. While losing Dad was certainly not a gift, his passing gave him peace. No more pain. No more suffering. The comfort in knowing Dad is no longer suffering is a gift.
My fourth gift has been with me for 43 years, my brother. Two years ago, my brother and I started on a journey that molded us into adult caregivers. Our Mom entered hospice in 2008 and passed away in 2009. I was in a position to fly home every 3-4 weeks to help with her care. My brother took the reins when Dad fell last November. Dad needed him close to home. I wrestle with the guilt of not living closer, but recognize the gift of my brother's sacrifice to care for Dad day-to-day.