Honey Off a Thorn

by Jeffrey Ingram on January 1st, 2014


For the past several years, on Christmas day, my dad would spend time with my mom at the nursing home, where Alzheimer’s keeps her prisoner. Later that evening, he’d fly out to spend time with our family. 

This year, he came early. His grandsons needed to leave the 26th and he wanted to get some time with them and meet our future daughter-in-law. 

So, for the first time since Vietnam, 40 years ago, he was away from his bride. These are the decisions he now has to make. 

I read a quote in Reader’s Digest years ago that said, “Life is like licking honey off a thorn.” That’s what Christmas was like this year. 

There’s a sweetness there. Everyone opening presents, playful banter, the excitement of what would be found in the next box. Eating, laughing, eating, brothers being brothers, eating, talking, eating, lounging, eating. The joy of young adults in the house, the excitement of future plans, the promise of a growing family. A house filled with joy. 

At the same time, there’s the prick of loss. It’s not that Mom is gone, she’s just not there. Her presence, her wisdom, her laughter, her touch are all missing. She’s oblivious to the day and what she is missing, 1,600 miles away. 

Life moves on and Dad is stuck, bound by a commitment he made to a woman over 50 years ago and a passion for her still today. He’s caught between a longing to be with the “living” and the betrayal of leaving his love on Christmas. 

I’m a believer in living life fully, licking off every bit of honey in any given moment. Alzheimer’s makes sure I also feel the scrape of the thorn. 

Posted by Jeff Ingram at 8:17 AM 

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Susan - March 17th, 2014 at 10:20 AM
This is a beautiful post, one I can identify with. My father-in-law died almost 7 years ago from Alzheimer's. It is difficult to watch your loved one die a slow death starting with their memories and then their body. Licking honey from a thorn is so appropriate for this kind of living. My mother-in-law took great care of my father-in-law and sacrificed greatly. One thing that kept her going was the fact that he kept asking her to marry him%u2026over and over again. It brought some joy in the dark times.

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