Dad passed away two years ago today. He had been in an Alzheimer’s decline for quite a while and though we knew it was the end, we didn’t know when “the end” would be. I was working at my office when my phone rang. It was Anna, my step-mom’s, number, but it was the chaplain at The Manor who told me that Dad was near the end. They had called to let me speak with him one last time over the phone. I don’t remember what I said other than “I love you.” It was such an act of love and charity for them to reach out to me in that way. As soon as I got off the phone, I made my flight arrangements. While I was waiting for my plane, I got the call that Dad had died.
I’m so grateful for Anna, who cared for Dad with such love, selflessness, and dedication for so many years. And for all those who helped to take care of him and loved him no matter what.
Even after Dad couldn’t remember who I was, he could play the piano. There was one song that he always came back to when he sat at the piano. As he played through his repertoire, he would returned to the song, “Have You Ever Been Lonely.”
I didn’t know the song before I heard him play it. But the words seem so appropriate for his journey.
Have you ever been lonely?
Have you ever been blue?
Have you ever loved someone,
Just as I love you?
By Peter DeRose and Billy Hill
Made popular by Patsy Cline
I asked him how he learned to play the piano by ear. (I wish I could play by ear!) He loved to tell the story about Grandma Ida Mae giving him lessons when he was a little boy. He said he would rather be outside, playing, so he would ask her to play the song and he would memorize it. That saved the time he would have spent practicing so he could go outside with the other kids. And in his last years, that part of his brain still functioned … what a gift. And though I can’t play the piano by ear, I received his legacy of music.
And I’m so grateful.