Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in
the land the Lord your God is giving you.
Exodus 20:12, NIV
I wasn't really trying to overhear, but when you're in the next room and a door is open, you can't help it sometimes. It wasn't anything salacious or scandalous, not even gossipy or private. Far from it.
My wife of almost 36 years, Regina, was easing into her father's room to awaken him. Alzheimer's has progressed to the point that he'd happily remain tucked in bed like a raccoon in a hollow tree until noon, or later. That can lead to all sorts of confusion because, no matter what time he slips out of the covers, he's making a beeline to the table for breakfast. Lunch, by his long reckoning, is supposed to be eaten no later than 1 o'clock, so you'd have to change the clocks or serve back-to-back meals, literally. Dementia doesn't completely change a creature of habit, at least not for quite a while.
"Good morning to you; good morning to you," I heard her softly singing as she stuck her head inside the darkened room. "Good morning, dear Daddy," she continued. "Good morning to you."
He might have stirred, a little, but he didn't come completely awake. "Daddy," she said in a voice soothing and sweet. "It's time to get up. I've got your breakfast ready!"
I couldn't see it, but I'm pretty sure he blinked open his eyes and fixed them on her. "Oh, is that you, Honey?"
"Yes, sir, it's me, Regina. You ready to get up?"
The covers rustled as he flung them off and started from his bed. "I'm up, Honey!" he boomed loud enough to make me jump.
"There's your clothes, Daddy," she said. "When you get dressed, come on to the kitchen and your breakfast is on the table."
"Be there in a minute!" This time the neighbors likely jumped in their own living room. "I love you, Honey!" he added. "A bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck."
And so another day began.
I marvel at her sweet spirit, at the grace and joy, the kindness, she exudes. I'm humbled by the commitment that she and Vicky, her brother Mickey's wife, and April - Mickey and Vicky's daughter - and JoLee, a dear family friend, express as they care for him each day.
It's an amazing thing, this thing called Love. I've seen it, yes, and I've heard it, too.
"Good morning to you, good morning to you," sung a hair above a whisper.
"I love you a bushel and a peck!" bellowed loud enough to rattle the walls.
That's the sound of love.