The Dance

The three siblings
had not been together
in over 30 years.
Dad is 87.
Uncle Bill is 89.
Aunt Rosie is 85.
Karen flew with her father from Georgia,
John drove his mother from Columbus,
and we four Miller children hosted everyone
in Warsaw where Dad lives.
It was a wonderful day.
At the last minute I created a slide presentation
with my laptop and video projector
so the three guests of honor could better see
the fifty old-time photographs simultaneously.
They reminisced for all of us in that room,
identifying faces and speaking names
as they built their common history
and told their common story.
Below is one of those photographs.
Dad, Bill, and Rosie are behind.
Grandma Miller, already a widow, is in front.
I am the baby being cradled, 62 years ago.
Last night I lay awake thinking about
being in that room with those 15 family members
as the people in that photograph looked back at us.
The on-screen four who stared at us
(my baby eyes were closed)
had already cared for their ill husband and father
for several years at home before he died.
Aunt Rosie would later do the same for Grandma Miller,
taking her into that family’s small home
for quite a number of years.
The generation that I represented on screen
is now carrying on in similar ways,
as is the generation below us,
finding our way through this chapter
of our caregiving lives.
We do what we have been taught,
and what we have been shown.
We’re also learning what no one can teach us
but we can only come to experience—
what it’s like to care for
while also being care for,
though our caregiving takes different forms.

A photograph was made yesterday
of three generations smiling into a camera,
feeling pretty contented and blessed.
God willing, thirty years from now
maybe I’ll see that photograph again
and witness those 15 smiles staring back at me,
including my own.
My daughter Christen will be about my present age
and her son Grayson will be half that,
and I’ll be busy learning about caregiving
in yet another almost unimaginable way.
Grayson will be asking questions
about who those faces belonged to,
and what we were doing that day,
and, steadying myself against the walker
that Christen holds for me,
I’ll tell him.
It’s quite a thing, this dance of life,
this waltz of caregiving.

Click on this image to enlarge it. Then right click to print it, send it to another, or use as your desktop wallpaper.

Please select this LINK for a printable version of this image.

One Response to “The Dance”

  1. christen Says:

    more tears…beautiful.

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