Saturday, July 20, 2013

Soften The Blow

As we do on most evenings, yesterday Evin and I visited my parents at Abernethy Laurels Continuing Care Retirement Community. My mother has Alzheimer's and my father has colon and liver cancer. They share a room in skilled nursing care. The last time we visited we found both, under the circumstances, to be in a great mood and place. Last night was 180 degrees different. Apparently my father was having a reaction to an increase in his pain medication or his liver is no longer cleansing his body of toxins. He was hostile, paranoid, agitated and having hallucinations. To say the least, it was a tough evening for the staff and all others concerned.

As we were leaving I took the time to look at a flower planter at the entrance to their wing. What I found calmed me and gave me some peace. I just had to have my camera and record that feeling after the troubling evening. It is very hard for me to express what it is like for me to go through this experience with my parents. My mother no longer knows my father, my brother, Evin or me and my father is failing fast. He talked tonight of never being able to drive again. I cannot make him eat and the food is very good at Abernethy Laurels. Evin cooked a wonderful meal for him two nights ago and he could not even eat it. We are taking him milk shakes that we spike with Ensure.

I called my brother, Ken, on the way home to tell what our experience had been tonight. We had one of our better conversations. We have been estranged for years. We ended out conversation with telling each other that we loved one another.

This morning I downloaded the shots of the flowers that I passed on my way back to the car last night and I found a peace in their beauty and simplicity. Death and dying is a part of life. None of us will get out of here alive. I see the stages of life often in the flower shots I take. Beautiful flowers I photographed a day or two ago in the radiant beautiful prime are now gone, often have fallen to the ground...

In the above painting by Virginia Fouche Bolton the stages of life are represented by the magnolia blossoms. One can see a new born bloom that has not opened, one opening, one at its prime and one declining or dying.

My mother, Frances Miller Conrad

My father, Marvin Bruton Conrad

Once again, flowers bring me peace.


  1. Our thoughts are with you and Evin during these hard times.

    I can see how the flowers bring peace to you - stay strong.

    Dick & Melissa

  2. We are so sorry that you are going through this right now. My parents were both in the same shape a few years ago. We lost both of them in the same year. Mom had COPD and congestive heart failure. Dad had colon cancer. We were blessed that their minds were both alert, so they could appreciate our visits and share their memories. Stay strong.