Which Goodbye

The night before my Grandmother died we said our goodbyes in the hospital. We had always been very close, and knew this would be our final parting.
I said goodbye to my Father many times over the years. First when we sat together in a locked psychiatric ward. He laughed nervously and said
“I never thought it would be my mind that would go first”.
We repeatedly said goodbyes of one kind or another in different nursing homes, clinics,  and hospitals as he declined. Finally in Hospice, with cancer consuming him we said goodbye daily. We would hold hands and sit together in the sun. Tears would swell in his now blind eyes and he would say
“I want to die. Please kill me. You’re my son, you’re a good man, you know what’s
right. Kill me, please kill me. I want to die”.
If I could have taken his life I would have then and  there. But what I did do was give him permission to go, permission to die, and we said goodbye everyday until he was gone.
My Mother now is fading. Alzheimer’s and stroke have taken her once sharp mind. Memory is falling away from her so rapidly. Now we find sunny spots in which to sit. Most days she knows me, but not all. She wonders aloud if I am her brother or a childhood friend.
Every goodbye between us now is long and lingering. I never know which one will be
our last goodbye.

by – Doug Mathewson