I have been blessed to spend nearly half of my lifetime living with an Angel.
That Angel, my wife Cathy, lost her favorite person in the world recently. After a massive stroke six weeks ago, her Dad Bill succumbed on May 17th. She held his hand, she gave him encouragement, and though she knew all along that his time was up, her demeanor never varied, she never complained or stopped thinking positively.
My wife lost her life partner on May 17th and Friday we put him to rest with a full 21 gun military salute. It was the perfect way to pay tribute to a great man, father and husband, not to mention a hero to his country.
I never knew strength of character like her Dad had until I witnessed it this past six weeks as Cathy had to deal with the tragic condition of her idol, and also deal with the devastation her mother was suffering as she watched her husband of sixty years undergo horrible physical deterioration.
It was like getting hit with a one-two-punch from Mike Tyson. Though we all knew , at 85 years old, Grandpa was beginning to show his age. But you cannot prepare for the kind of emotional devastation the loss of your family anchor, the man everyone looked up to, the war hero, the consummate leader, would engender. Losing Bill was something intangible. Only time will tell how his family will cope.
Cathy, as self confident and positive as her Dad, seemed like the one who could best deal with his loss.
And maybe she will. But I know one thing, whatever she needs, I owe it to her to be there for her. to give her the emotional support, the love and comfort, the time and resources that will help her to reset her emotional dashboard post Dad.
Rarely does a human being come along who can push through the obvious struggles, pain and suffering that her elders endure, while still reacting to and showing compassion for the needs of her children, and even her husband. A selfish as that sounds, I do need her emotional and psychological support sometimes, and with Cathy, our kids and I can count on that.
This is not the first time she has demonstrated such enormous capacity to navigate the end of life process or the death of a loved one. She was at my Dad's side for nearly a year after he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She has for the past three years been giving life extending care and support to several other seniors through her side business Cathy Cares. At this moment, she hasn't lost any of her clients, but that time is not to far away and it remains to be seen how she will cope with their passing as she has grown very close to all of them.
God gave some people a gene that is very special. The ability to find the best of any situation, to stay above the pain, the offer their empathy and support unconditionally and even bring some sense of strength and control when it appears to most of us that there is precious little of either.
Cathy got it from her father, who epitomized the MacGyver Gene: Cool under pressure, never at a loss for answers and solutions, and always ready to offer positive support and encouragement. Something that comes in especially handy when dealing with sad, sometimes dehumanizing and undignified end of life issues.
I am blessed to be married to a sexy and fun-loving, independent and spirited woman, but I live with an Angel.