Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Beautiful Moment, A Beautiful Family

I have an amazing and loving extended family - a whole slew of first and second cousins, most were originally from Pennsylvania and now spread out all over many states. Our parents were siblings and all of that generation is gone except for my mom and dad and my Uncle Dick. This weekend we all went to PA to celebrate his 90th birthday. Uncle Dick has Alzheimer's and is in a lovely assisted living center.
On this particular day he sat quietly at a card table and did not seem to notice the din of voices around him until someone would enter his viewing range. Then he would smile and say he was glad to see you. My cousin says "he knows we belong to him ."
My Uncle Dick has always been one of the happiest, most positive people I've ever known. He raised six children and entertained us all with music - from the piano, to the trumpet, to enthusiastic singing. One of our favorite memories as children was spending New Year's Eve at our cousin's house and hearing Uncle Dick play Auld Lang Syne on the trumpet on the front porch at midnight. The neighbors would all come out to hear it.
The party was lively and noisy as all of us cousins, our families, and some of Dick's friends enjoyed conversing around him. At certain moments during the afternoon I would watch my cousins lovingly care for his needs and attend to him with such dignity and grace.
In the midst of loud conversations and laughter two voices broke through. A man was kneeling next to my uncle with his arm around him. They were singing "I've Been Working on the Railroad" in perfect two-part harmony. Everyone stopped in silence until the long (many versed) song was through. My cousin told me that's the only song he remembers all the way through. It was a beautiful moment.
Later I thought about the man kneeling next to my uncle and the sensitivity and respect he had displayed by reaching into my uncle's memory in the best possible way. It was an act of love I hope never to forget.

10 comments:

happyone said...

What a wonderful story and memory to add to the already special memories you have of your Uncle Dick.

Jen said...

I wish I could have been there. He was my dad for 14 years, always kind and always encouraging. I love him.
Jennifer Ross Sawyer

Leslie said...

Hi Di,
Thanks for your kind words on your blog. And thanks for coming and participating in our Dad's 90th. I am proud to be part of a family who celebrates life and music and each other.

Kelly Jene said...

Thank you for sharing that with us. What a wonderful memory. I am envious of big families and believe that you are so very blessed to have one, especially one so loving.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Diane! What another special birthday gift for Dad -- you featuring him on your blog. Karla expressed it well when she replied to my e-mail the other day that Dad may not have known exactly who we were but there was no doubt that he knew and felt all the love for and around him! Thanks for that, Karla!

Jen -

Dad is STILL your Dad and yes -- he is a kind and loving man. If I can become even half the person he is I will be happy. I think one of the things I admire most about Dad is his genuinely peaceful soul and spirit. LOVE TO ALL, Gail

Kelly Jene said...

Diane, I got your book in the mail today, I can't wait to read it! Did you start your own publishing company?

chasing fireflies said...

what a lovely story... thank you!

CRUSTYBEEF said...

Hi Diane! What a beautiful reminder, and the fact that he was patient, and respectful, that's a beautiful blessing to witness!

May love grow in your heart today and always,
happy Valentines Day!
Sincerely,
Elizabeth

Kelly Jene said...

Happy Valentines day!

Anonymous said...

Hi! Diane:

To have the gift to express your self so well in writing is a blessing. Thanks for sharing your gift with us is such a heart felt way because your good thoughts of our ex-tended family are good for me to hear. My Dad married into this big family and helped to make it bigger still. I hope we all can kneel down for each other in acts of love. I yearn to know everyone more and more. Well, maybe in heaven, we will. I know for me, lately, the family love and knowing has been more.

With love
eric