Today marks 19 years since my father died. I still mark it as THE WORST day of my life…and my life has not been a bed of roses.
I have never been ashamed to own the label “daddy’s girl” even now in my late 40′s. My role as a daddy’s girl is as present today as it was 19 years ago. My devotion to my father is the driving force behind my decision to serve as my mother’s caregiver. He loved her passionately and completely. As a daddy’s girl, it is my duty, since he is not here to do it himself, to take care of the woman he adored. I recently shared this thought with a friend of mine. At the time, I felt ashamed of feeling this way. Shouldn’t I be taking care of my mother just because she is my mother? Well, the problem with that premise is that Alzheimer’s has basically erased her role as mother from her mind. She knows my name, but RARELY knows that she is my mother. I am most often the lady that takes care of things around the house. At this point, it is at times painful for me to think of her as the woman that raised me. That woman had a bright and quick mind. That woman could juggle the priorities, needs, and wants of a husband, 4 children, a demanding career as a hospital administrator, and the many duties of being a pastor’s wife…Sam Hines’s wife. The woman I am caring for cannot do any of that. What she is, was and always will be though, is my father’s sweetheart. For that reason, even when she is agitated by the mere mention of the fact that she has children, she is treated with great love and care. It is also powerful that in the midst of every thing that Alzheimer’s steals from my mother it has not put a dent in these three knowings for her: 1) God is real; 2) She loved her husband; 3) Her husband loved her.
Here is the painful part. My mother is at a point where I need to recommit to my commitment to take care of her, even if that means letting go of my role as her primary caregiver. I see this as also the final act of really letting go of my father. THAT’S THE PAINFUL PART. My grief, anger about my father’s death, and love of my father have defined me for almost 20 years. I am aware that being this lost in grief and anger is not what my father would want for me. This is not the way he would want my love for him to play out. He always wanted me to live my best life – a life submitted to God; a life in service to others; a life full of love, joy, laughter, and sacrifice; a life that allowed me to experience how big and great God is; a life where my gifts and talents are known, developed, and demonstrated. That is the ultimate life of a daddy’s girl…if your daddy was Samuel George Hines.
Here are some of his favorite sayings:
Samuel George Hines
April 19, 1929 – January 6, 1995