Working in a restaurant, especially a state park, you have the people that come & go, your tourist & your regulars. We had an elderly couple that would come eat faithfully almost every night. They had their own table, ate & drank the same thing & you always knew the exact tip you were going to receive. They definately have become part of our “park family.” We lost the man yesterday morning & I think that I can speak for everyone, that we are going to miss him dearly. Praying for his family & especially his wife during this time. So tonight we have made ‘your table’ extra special just for you!
So my son’s girlfriend posted this on her wall today and me being the baby I am I have sat and cried until I am literally snuffing (is that even a word?). Immediately it brought back memories of so many couples I have been blessed to know in my lifetime. Today so many people take love and marriage for granted. I guess I was one of those people at a particular time. My marriage failed because my husband at the time felt the need to romance more than one woman at a time….for ten years. Yes, I finally gave in and just told him to leave. I don’t know how much more I could have taken and I wasn’t about to catch something that Ajax wouldn’t take off. So, anyway, my parents are the prime example of how real love goes. I sit and I think back to days where hugs were plentiful and playful chases throughout the house were common. I always heard my parents say I love you every single day (even if they had just had a knock down drag out….just kidding…no knocking down allowed). I remember silly fights they had over literally nothing. My mom could be so nagging at times and my daddy was just hard headed. With both of them it was “my way or the highway” which usually meant my dad caved in and then my mom felt bad for making him cave in. I watched my parents hold on to each other when my brother passed away. I have heard so many couples say that their marriages just fell apart because they couldn’t stand the grief and they could see the child in their spouse. I’m not saying it was easy because my mom sank into a depression that nearly killed her. She wouldn’t leave the house and my dad had to do all the grocery shopping, paying bills, anything that required an outside trip. It broke my hear to see her in such a shape and my poor daddy having to hold up for both of them. He worshiped my mother and would do anything for her. Every single morning he went to Dairy Queen to talk to the old farts up there about what ever it is old farts talk about and he would always bring my mama a BLT on white bread home with him (every day for over 20 years). My dad had his first heart attack back in 1999 and that completely upset my mom’s “hermit” life. She had no choice but to pull herself together and take care of him. She spent night after night in a little sleeping area while he underwent open heart surgery. She never left his side once he got to a room. I saw a fear in her eyes that I had never seen before….it was a fear of losing him. Over the next ten years the road was very rocky. My mom wanted to stay at home away from everyone but my dad was so sick and required hospital stays every couple of months. It was in those times where my dad was in the hospital I saw just how strong my mama was. I saw her walk outside by herself in the middle of the bad part of Nashville all hours of the night. I saw her hold herself together although she was falling apart inside. The woman that I had always thought was weak was truly a wonder woman. My dad would have his good days and then bad. He continued to work on a monument for the Veterans at the cemetary where my brother was buried. He had trees planted down each side of the drive and he had flags put on every veteran’s grave. He was a good man and he wanted to do good things for others. My mom knew he was keeping himself busy as a way to deal with grief over my brother as well as his illness. Over the next 10 years he had 9 more heart attacks. Each one a little bit worse than the one before. He was life-flighted out 4 times and pulled through being on a ventilator all four times and guess who was right by his side during every sickness and hospitalization….my mother. She wasn’t ever one to cry or show emotion but during certain times I would hear her in another room crying quietly. I can remember one time not to long after a hospitalization my mom and dad got into a spat over something (I don’t even remember…but it wasn’t serious). I pulled up after work and my dad was going around the side of the house with a tv in his arms. I was like ok….what the heck?! Him and mom decided they were splitting up…so dad was headed to the basement to live. Bahahahahaha….I placed bets with my aunt on how long that would last. I think my dad made it two days before he was back upstairs and they were acting like nothing happened. In 2008 my dad began to go down hill quickly. He even quit going to the cemetary everyday. He would call and ask me to take him because his feet were so swollen he couldn’t get shoes on. He had such a hard time breathing and it pained me just to watch him. There are pictures I will never get out of my head. You know you get this “ok nothing bad is going to happen…it will all be okay” attitude. Well it just got worse. He started forgetting things and some days would forget something I had told him 10 minutes before. He would get so angry because he couldn’t remember and couldn’t stay awake which we learned was the lack of oxygen to his brain. I remember the early morning my mom called…you just have a feeling. She said daddy had fallen in the kitchen floor the night before and his lips were bluish but he was still talking. He had told her not to call the ambulance that he wanted one more night with her. She said they laid there in that kitchen floor with his head in her hands. They talked about how they met, the things they had go to do in life, me and my brother, and how happy they had made each other. Around 4am when he couldn’t breathe anymore she called 911 and then me. When I go to the hospital mom told me it wasn’t good. As I went in to see my daddy I saw his feet were blue and splotched as well as his ears. I knew this was it. My mom stood there holding his hand with her head down. The only thing my dad said was “Please take care of your mom”. The doc rushed in and said they were going to life flight him but they didn’t think he would make it this time. He had a massive heart attack and it was so damaged only 5 % would pump so he would require a machine to do it for him. When we got to Vandy they took us to his room where he was hooked up to machines and the vent. Mom just looked at him with such sadness in her eyes. All those years he had pulled through for us and we both knew this was it. We both laid down with him until the doctor came in and told us he would never make it off of the vent. She told us we had to make up our mind whether to leave him on or take him off. My dad had always been one of those who said if you know I am never coming off the vent or I am never gonna lead a quality life then you unhook me. Those words played over and over in my head. We told them to take it off. My mom sat by his bed holding his hand and I laid down beside him and rubbed his face. I watched that damn monitor just hoping and praying it would improve instead of slowing down. I watched each breath he took and then I would look at my mom whose heart sank a little more each time. I saw the life in her leaving as the life in my dad was leaving. After about an hour we let him go. I whispered in his ear it was okay to let go….I promised to take care of my mom and I told him I loved him more than life itself. My mom bent down and kissed his forehead and as she did he took his last breath. My mom broke down and I have never see her cry like that. Tears of true love…..lost. My parents had been together since my mom was 16 years old. They married when she was 19. Together 53 years and then he suddenly left her life. I will tell you if I have ever experienced true love that was it right there. I just wish more people could experience that kind of love in life or see it. Mom has told me over and over she was so glad she had that last night with him. She said although it doesn’t take the pain away it gives her peace of mind. My parents had a lot of love in their life and although they never had material things they had each other. Today is hard for me….I miss my daddy and I hate the fact that I feel I have let him down by not taking the best care I can with my mom. God knows I have tried. It was me who cared for her during her accident but it is me having to fight her brothers to care for her now. I believe in one way or another it will be okay. Next time you are walking at the store, the part, or the mall and you pass that little old couple who are holding hands and look happier than ever…know that is the love I speak of. It is still out there you just have to work to find and keep it!