When I was little, I used to say I wanted to help people. I didn't really want to become a nurse, I just wanted to be there to care for people, to let them know that someone was looking out for them. So when a friend of our family asked if I wanted a job helping her dad get his meals, making sure he was safe, and getting into bed in the evenings, I said yes.
The first day I met him, I knew it was exactly where I wanted to be. He was so pleasant to be with and always had a smile on his face. Before I left that first evening, he had already told me he loved me.
As time went by I spent more hours with him. It started out with just time in the evening but then it increased to an hour around lunch time and slowly, as he needed more help with everyday needs, more hours would get added. It was so nice spending time with him. I enjoyed it but I think he enjoyed his time with me even more. His daughters would tell me that he would light up when I walked in.
During the year and a half I spent with him, I would think about him every day. Even on the days I didn't see him I would think about him, pray for him, and wonder if he was having a good day.
After his stroke, I watched him decline and I knew our time together was coming to an end. It was a sad time for me, but for him it meant leaving his tired, worn-out body and going home with the Lord. Up until the end he was so peaceful. It was hard for him to smile after the stroke but he would do his best to give me a smile anyway. I would sit by his bed and hold his hand for hours. He wouldn't want to let go.
When I think back to our time together, the days that were hard to enjoy because he wasn't feeling well or had trouble getting around aren't the things I'm going to remember. I'll remember all the good days and times we had together. I took a lot of those things for granted.
-- Almost every night after he was in bed we would pray together and then he would say he loved me and I would always say I loved him, too. Some nights he would ask if he could give me a kiss on the cheek; some nights I would give him a kiss on the forehead back.
--While we sat in living room, he'd be watching tv and I'd be reading or working on a craft project. Many times each night I would look up to see him watching me. Each time he would give me a big smile. I'd smile back and he'd return to watching television again. In the summers, he liked to watch baseball. I've never been a fan of sports but after watching game after game I started enjoying baseball and we'd talk about the Orioles games (his favorites).
--As he was eating his meals at the table, we would talk. We would talk about our families, our days, what kinds of food we liked and disliked. He always enjoyed talking about his daughters.
The day before he died, his daughters gave me a birthday card from him. The message on the front is exactly how I feel about him.
There is a place of blessing
where laughter comes easy
and hard times are shared,
where kindness is valued
and love never spared,
a sweet place of comfort
that's caring and true;
a place to thank God for
my time spent with you.
The best year and a half of my life was the time spent with him. He gave me so much. Taught me so much. Loved me so much. There will be days where the hurt of not having him here will be great, but being with his Lord and Savior is much better for him. And one day I'll see him again.
Joy and grief were mingled; but there were no bitter tears: for even grief arose so softened, and clothed in such sweet and tender recollections, that it became a solemn pleasure, and lost all character of pain.
― Charles Dickens