Yesterday we enjoyed a visit with my parents to celebrate my mother's birthday. Three of my four children were able to join us. My brother and his wife and his two sons and a daughter-in-law were also there. My oldest daughter brought a favorite client whom we love and have adopted over the last 10 years, not legally, but in every other way. In total we had 13 plates around the table and overflowing to the kitchen counter.
Usually a crowd of this size is disquieting to my dad who suffers from Alzheimer's and gets very confused and sometimes anxious when a big crowd visits. After we ate a fine Sunday meal of pot roast with potatoes and carrots with green salad prepared by my dear wife and a wonderful lemon cake made by my brother's wife, the group retired to the family room to visit with Mom and amongst themselves.
Dad looked on for a few minutes, standing at the edge of the room, but the large group with so many voices made it impossible for him to join in. I took him to the living room not far away but just far enough. We sat on the sofa and looked out upon the field of harvested corn covered mostly by recent snow. And we talked. He is not able to express himself well anymore, but if you quietly and patiently listen, you can hear his words of love and wisdom trickling through the fragments of his speech. He asked what I would do next or where I would go. I told him I would go home and work. In his way he asked about that and my family. In brief and short sentences, I told him about them and my concerns for them.
While he was unable to complete each of his thoughts filled with bits of wisdom and encouragement, but I found myself understanding more and more of what he was trying to say, sometimes finishing his thought for him to which he would then agree. I felt his spirit communicating with me in only a way that a loving father can. I was comforted and leaned my head on his shoulder and gradually fell asleep. He sat quietly there as I slept for about half an hour. Perhaps he slept as well. I'm told my children were checking on me as they made plans to leave and, finding me still asleep, they would return to the other room to chat more with my mom and their cousins.
I am deeply grateful for such wonderful rest and the blessings of my dad's wisdom and love which still has the power to transcend the disease which robs him of his memories and his normal cognitive abilities. His spirit is strong and while I will celebrate the day that he is released from his mortal tabernacle to go and serve the Lord on the other side of the veil, I will suffer the deepest sadness for myself and others who now benefit from his enduring spirit of love and wisdom here in mortality.