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Dedicated to My Parents
Submitted by Anonymous
*(please note I am an American citizen, living in Canada as a Fulbright scholar only for the year. Thanks for your consideration.)
My parents, Joan and Dick, have been married for over 48 years. It was that many years ago when they met and - recognizing love for love - were married 6 months later to the 1956 ballad: "Always".
In 1980, my father was sent to Oahu for an extended period on business, joining my brother and sister (students at the University of Hawaii) and accompanied by mother. So dedicated as they were to providing a better life for their 4 children and the world around them, my parents rarely previously found time for relaxation. Yet, in the warm spirit of Hawaii, they were afforded the deserved occasion to renew their remarkable bond. Soon, "The Hawaiian Wedding Song" became "their" song, to rival "Always" from years prior.
Now, in 2005, my mother is the still kindest and most beautiful woman I've ever known and my father, still, the strongest and truest man. Together they continue to share a Hawaii-inspired love of which one can only dream - albeit today, under exceptional circumstances.
You see, after helping better the lives of others as a hospice director on the East Coast, my mother was never able to return to Hawaii. Instead, she was struck with a cruelly degenerative brain disease. At 69, she is still the most beautiful woman in the world, but fate has relegated her once exceptional intelligence to that of a 1 year old child.
Throughout her extremely painful 5-year degeneration, my father has remained steadfast by her side. Without hesitation, he spent their "Hawaii money" to ensure that she will never leave home for an institution. Despite some visiting health services, the vast burden of responsibility still falls upon my father, who - at 76 - has never once complained nor publicly lamented the injustice.
Every day evidencing a rock-solid strength, my father carries my mother, outside and in, simply so she may see the sea that she loves, even if it can't be the Pacific shores of Hawaii and even if it can't be of her own accord. Today, in their home on the Connecticut shore, my father bathes her, changes her and then sits in quiet for hours with her, just holding her hand so that even in her altered consciousness, she is never alone. On some level, he knows that, with him, she is reminded of their happy times off a metaphorically opposite ocean.
My parents shared the truest love throughout their 48 years of marriage. But what truly defines theirs as the greatest love in the world is my father's acceptance, without pity, of the hardest job in world: caregiving for the love of his life as she silently leaves him alone with no one to share their memories of Hawaii. As Hawaiian love stories go, I cannot imagine one more tragic nor one more deserving than theirs. For it is, as "their" songs: "not just for an hour, not just for a day, but Always. Always."