Giving Him Away

When your dad gives you away on your wedding day, you never dream of the day you will have to give him away. The thought never crosses your mind. It never crossed mine, until I was holding my dad’s hand at the Willard Walker Hospice Home.

Dad had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years before I found my brother and I at his bedside. The disease progressed quickly and was torturous for all of us, but most especially my dad. The man who always wore a suit and a smile on his face had become a person lost in confusion in jogging pants and house shoes shuffling around looking for something… Not ever quite sure what that something was. Even though my heart ached everyday to see him like that, I was with him. He was still physically there and would pat my leg and tell me everything was going to be ok even if he didn’t recognize me. Selfishly, the reassurance only a daddy can give his daughter was what I needed then, still need now, and never wanted to let go of even if it meant giving him back to someone I loved too.

Mom and Dad had been married for 40 years the year she unexpectedly took her own life. Her death changed us all. We all longed for her to be back with us. We had many unanswered questions. The empty hole in our hearts would never be filled. And then suddenly as dad began to forget everything, he forgot her. It was hard not to remind him of her. To make him remember her. How could he forget the love of his life, the mother of his children, his very best friend? But we knew the memory would cause too much pain, and we let him…forget her.

So, when we found ourselves at his bedside knowing that his time had come and he would see her again and know her, we reminded him of her. Even though his eyes were closed and had been for quite sometime, we held his hand and told him stories of them. We reminisced of their life together and of our childhoods. We talked about what great parents they were together and how influential and inspirational they were for us our whole lives and would continue to be long after they left this earth.

We poured every amount of love from our body into his knowing that we had to let go even though we did not want to. We held his hands and kissed his cheeks just like he had ours for so many years. And then, just like the day he gave me away, we gave him away. We gave him to her.