[photos courtesy of the Estate of Carl Smith]
I’ve spent the last month posting about death and grief and dying probably because my mom died a year ago and I’m still in process. A few months ago, my good friend and colleague, Bill Smith joined the club that no one wants to be a part of — the Parentless Club. It’s a sucky club to be in, but there are some bits of grace that can come from it, like these beautiful journal entries by Bill’s father, Carl, a retired Presbyterian minister. Carl’s way with describing the most mundane in spiritual terms really stuck with me, and I thought it would be nice if Bill could share some of his father’s words, that maybe they’d be a healing balm to others similarly situated. I invite you to take a moment and read some of a wise man’s insights into love and marriage and getting old. Perhaps his words will help you get through some of your own stuff. After all, it’s just us riffraff in charge now, and we could use all the help we can get.
“Just a Couple of Old People Holding Hands”:
A Memoir of a Marriage in Alzheimer’s World
By Carl R. Smith, Jr.
Edited by William C. Smith
My father Carl Smith died on June 4, 2015. The last days of his 91 years were in a nursing home room that he shared with his wife, Mary Helen Lawson.
My father’s death certificate lists bladder cancer as the cause of death, but he really fell victim to ODTAAS: “One Damn Thing After Another Syndrome.” As aptly described by physician and writer Atul Gawande, ODTAAS is “what the closing phase of a modern life often looks like – a mounting series of crises from which medicine can offer only brief and temporary rescue.”