Getting to work with teenagers opens me up to something new each day. I have come to learn that "swoll" is a good thing, "beefing" is unpleasant, and that our nation's future is in creatively brilliant, occasionally tattooed hands.
When working our way through emotions with the kids, keeping a journal is a frequent suggestion.
Seems like sound advice. Here goes.
I went to visit my grandfather over lunch the other day. He was staying in a hospital temporarily while they monitored his late-stage Parkinson’s to make sure a jump into a care facility could be advised. Being Parkingson’s, this was a situation that was a long time in the making.
In the walk across the bustling parking lot, full of its movement and activity, I hardly took any notice of the things around me. I was turned inward, in a cerebral, contemplative state, as I reflected the permanency and absolute nature of my grandfather’s position. Some of my earliest memories of life involved copiloting tractors, napping on floors, or listening to dirty jokes with this proud giant of a man.
I politely inquired directions towards the right room, rode to the seventh floor, and nodded to the orderlies as they shuffled about. I stuttered briefly upon entering room 7756, unsure as to if I had walked into the right room. After my eyes adjusted, my grandpa looked up from his chair and told the nurse, “That’s my grandson, Ben. No, Jake.”
I can’t think of a time of late in which I’ve felt more proud.
I laughed as I joked about how even my own mother sometimes goes through all of my brothers’ names before she, too, finds “Jake.” For about twenty minutes, I spoke with my gramps about the Super Bowl, weather, cute nurses, and how damned hard it was to find good mashed potatoes in this area. He slowly showed more weariness as he struggled to stay awake. I was told to keep the visit short, but it was just so damned good to hang with my grandfather.
My Aunt Jan wrote a fantastic piece that I’d like to share. She summarized my exact thoughts in an eloquent and moving poem. Thank you so much, Jan!
The old farmstead stands abandoned
What once was a landmark is now deserted and rundown.
The paint has worn bare; the windows are broken.
The foundation is crumbling to the ground.
If these walls could talk, they would tell of happy times,
family gathered for celebrations and dreams to be lived.
But now the rooms are silent, the family has moved to fulfill their own aspirations.
They have taken the love and values they were given.
The old man sits in the nursing home.
Once a tower of strength, he helped anyone he would meet.
Today, his skin is thin, his body is frail and he is ready to give up.
His legs support him to walk, but he can no longer move his feet.
He joyfully relives memories of the past and shares detailed stories,
but then he is confused and disoriented in the next breath.
He weeps. He has unfulfilled dreams, conflicting thoughts of family,
despair at his disease and he feels his time is stolen by certain death.
The old farmstead and the man.
Both have endured changes brought by time.
Both once stood proud, with expectations for the future.
Today, they both face much uncertainty. An uphill climb.
The farmhouse could be razed or restored,
That decision is left to the owners of the land.
The old man could have some strength renewed or he could die.
That is left in God’s hands.
What is certain is that time continues on.
Both have been a source of refuge and love for families.
Both provided a sense of belonging and hope.
Our love for both will live on in eternity.
Jan Madsen, 2013
And thanks for the photo, JoHanna! Here's some of the Brands following Myron's parade officiating a few years back.
Phew. Catharsis. It feels all right.
Be well, get your taxes completed, and thank you for reading!