My life is surrounded by words. I live and breathe them. But for the second time this year I am attempting to write something that will sum up how someone has impacted my life. It’s hard. How to you whittle it down into a page or so of writing? How can you put it into words that are profound? This is going to be tested this week when I pay tribute to my father-in-law at his funeral on Friday.
Tom Howlett was a man who was part of my life for almost 30 years. The grandfather to my two boys. This is no insignificant relationship. But here’s the thing. Tom was a quiet man. We didn’t have deep, spiritual conversations. We didn’t tell each other how we felt. And yet we both knew these things.
Much like my late grandfather who died 15 years ago, Tom has taught me that it isn’t necessarily the words you speak that have meaning. It is your actions.
Do as I do.
Tom’s actions toward his family showed us how he felt.
So while I might regret that I never told him that I love him, my actions toward him will have told him my true feelings. And even at the end of his life, weighted down and trapped by dementia, I know I was special to him because he knew who I was and he shed a tear or two when we were together.
Dementia is a cruel disease. It robs the person with it of so much, stripping away their identity and diminishing any quality of life. For the people around them, they lose a connection with that person and stay in this strange no-mans land because this person is physically there but not present to life.
Dementia is the trickster that reminds us that life is short; make the most of it while you can. I will ponder this as I write my tribute.