Years ago, after my mother died, I had a dream in which I was walking down a wooded path in a park at dusk. I came upon a small building and noticed the soft glow of a lamp and went in. Inside my mother was resting in a bed. She said, "Hello, I knew you would stop by for a visit." There was minimal furniture, a bed and maybe a table and a dresser. There was a rustling sound and when I looked down there were hundreds of pieces of notebook paper wadded up and rolling around on the floor. Along the walls there was some sort of air filtration system and the papers were being blown toward corners and collected in metal boxes. I watched for a moment and asked her what they were. She said, "Those are my memories. I can't take them all with me, so I'm sorting through them and keeping the most important ones. I'll take my favorites with me."
When we arrived here to visit my dad, we managed to keep the great grand baby a secret. He had no idea we stopped to pick up my daughter and her baby along the way and he was very excited to see us all. That first day after a visit with us he was heading out to the store with a neighbor. Before heading out the door he turned and looked slowly about the room. Our eyes met for a brief second and I had a feeling what he was doing. Three of his children and two of his grandchildren were in the same room playing with his great grand child. He was collecting a memory to take with him.
We went to his last doctors appointment with him, the one where the doctor explained to him that there were no treatment options left and he would steadily get weaker until the end which could be a few weeks or a few months from now. He meets with hospice for the first time tomorrow. The doctor shook his hand, the nurse gave him a huge hug. He told some of his neighbors in his apartment complex, several wiped tears from the corners of their eyes, and one slipped a beautiful handwritten two page letter of encouragement under the door. Some of them are cooking a big dinner for us on Thursday. He went to the senior center where he plays cards to say goodbye to some of his friends. We went for a drive through the neighborhood where he grew up and he gazed out the window, savoring his memories. This is such a difficult time and I am so glad I made this trip.