The guests were Dorothy’s dozen or so fellow-residents at her care-home. They had sung the ‘Happy Birthday’ song, the hip-hip-hoorays were enthusiastically chorused, and the candles were blown out efficiently. We had, thereby, begun to enjoy my wife’s eighty-eighth birthday!
The staff had served neat little fruit platters to each ‘guest’ and, after that healthy stuff, our daughter arrived and produced a large plate-load of yummy little home-made cupcakes on which was surmounted two candles each shaped as figure eights. Cakes and coffee topped off the happy occasion.
It was a sweet and superficially happy time. But for me it was yet another sad time, perhaps better described as bitter-sweet. No, maybe not bitter-sweet, more like sad-sweet. And that sadness persisted, as it often does, after I had left the care-home a couple of hours later. Of course, the reality of life is that such personal sadness must be suppressed or, better still overcome, by an acceptance of the way it is, not the way it was. And that’s where my mind usually finishes such rollercoaster rides, at rest but with no momentum, neatly parked.
I guess that birthday celebration highlighted the sort of ‘double-life’ I now lead, and it perfectly describes my normal state of mind: sad/sweet! It must be that way for many other partners normally separated for health reasons, it must be a common feeling shared by some of my readers. Personally, I am always thankful for the lives we’ve enjoyed together but…. without the ability to talk with Dorothy about our past shared experiences, the gratitude for them is tinged with, indeed shaped by, trying to achieve that sad/sweet emotional balance. The truth for me is get that balance right. When it is nicely balanced it’s a bit like being able to enjoy and savour the flavour of a well-blended recipe of a ‘sweet and sour’ meal. I am at that place most of the time, thank goodness!
Deep down, I know I can’t change our present day lives, and the best thing is for me stay ‘grounded’ and realistic, so that I can remain a joy to Dorothy. Although she may not really ‘know’ who I am, she often says, “I love you”. She is almost always happy and smiling when I am there with her. That is all the reason I need to be happy with, and for, her: may I always be sweet, less sour, and never bitter! So that’s my daily prayer, to be a source of joy to Dorothy and to remain thankful for God’s grace, without which I would be no good for her, myself or anyone else!
Yep. That’s it, get the balance right, then sweet and sour can be delicious!