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Soft and Kind While I was Crying

Yesterday, the kids and I visited my dad in the nursing (hell) home. I took these memorable pictures. Like this song says, my dad really did work until his hands bled. While pastoring a rural church in Kansas, he took a second job strapping trailers in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. He worked outside all winter long, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. The winter wind in Oklahoma is like a dull saw that will cut you a little deeper toward the middle every time it kicks up.

A day didn’t pass that I didn’t worry about my dad working out in those elements. He deserved so much more in this life than he got, and now he’s in this godforsaken nursing home, thinking more often than not Juliette is me. I tell her on the drive up, “If he thinks you’re me, just go with it.” I figure thinking I’m still 11 might bring him some momentary joy, and that’s worth being forgotten.

Someday, he’ll remember again. I’m sorry to sound so pathetic. Some days are worse than others. When we left, he held Juliette so tight and so long. She tried to break away three times before he finally let her go. Alzheimer’s disease breaks my heart a little more every day.

Soft and Kind While I was Crying

I remember Daddy´s hands, folded silently in prayer.
And reaching out to hold me, when I had a nightmare.
You could read quite a story, in the callouses and lines.
Years of work and worry had left their mark behind.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Jean W

    Lovely post, Jen. Brings back lots of personal memories. And fears for my old age as well. Your Dad is very blessed to have a loving daughter. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  2. JenX67

    Thanks for all these comments. The biggest regret I have in my life is not name my son for my dad. And, these pictures mean so much to me – even if Sully’s shirt was dirty! I love that one that shows my dad holding him back – still strong despite in his arms despite the illness and some atrophy. xoxo

  3. Debra W

    Oh Jen, there are tears just streaming down my cheeks. What beautiful pictures and words. Your generosity of spirit is so apparent in this post, dear heart. How lucky your father is to have a daughter who loves him so deeply and unconditionally.

    I understand your feelings about nursing homes. For the last several months of my grandma’s life, my father and I were forced to place her in one and she hated it, but it was necessary and inevitable. When I used to take my four girls to visit her, I could see where the years began to click away. She remembered my two oldest children, but began to forget my two youngest. Even though they were 12 and 14 and she had been around them a lot, she forgot who they were. We talked to them about it, and they seemed to understand but I know it still hurt.

    Juliette will understand better, someday, and she will be very glad that she stood in for you. You are such a great mom and daughter, Jen.

    Now I need to go blow my nose…


  4. Daddy Forever

    I know how you feel. My mom has Alzheimer’s, but her mind is stuck in a time where I don’t exist.

  5. Tyler

    Beautiful post! I’m sorry he’s where he is today. But I’m so glad you have those wonderful memories. It truly is such a blessing. Be thankful. I have my dad here physically but so gone emotionally. It’s a hell of a different kind.

  6. MoMo

    I just visited from Pioneer Woman..and glad I did, your ‘5’ words that described you intriqued me!
    I always, loved “Daddy’s Hands”, and your pictures are beautiful. Brought tears to my eyes. The circle of life goes on!
    Love to you and family.
    (BabyBoomer) 🙂

  7. Le @ Third on the Right

    hello Jen – thinking of you – my hugs to you – le

  8. Jen R.

    those are beautiful pictures.

  9. Stefunkc

    Oh how precious are those pictures! What a wonderful thing that even though he’s not ‘all there’ he’s still with you.

    My dad recenlty contacted me and is ready ‘again’ to start being a grandfather. This will be the third or fourth try. I don’t know how hopeful I am. I’ve stopped feeling.

  10. miruspeg

    Those pictures are, as you said so memorable.
    I agree with you nursing homes are ‘hell’, but what a wonderful daughter you are visiting your gorgeous father and taking the kids… is not always a bowl of chocolates.

  11. Anonymous

    My heart skipped a beat and my eys filled with tears with the wonder of it all. Oh, the joys and the heatache of rearing children and enjoying grandchildren. Such precious memories… (I miss “My Daddy’s Hands.”) I am overwheled. God is so Good.
    Thanks for Sharing.
    Love you– Mom

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