The mishmash of personal idiosyncrasies that we all possess make up the intricate fabric of who we are; our soul, spirit, mind and body are the sum of all of these parts. It's distinctively you, or me, it's us...our humor, our breathing, the way we eat, the cadence of our speech and the rhythm of our stride is in our DNA and life experiences woven into one unique person. Dad was no different.
He was a caricature of himself in living color; 6'4", 230 pounds with a hint of Brut and for sure the cleanest hands in all the land. It was not because he didn't work hard but because of his perennial obsession with clean hands. All of these pieces of his fabric unknowingly on display for everyone to see. He was likable, lovable, annoying, hard working and he was Dad. He was my dad, but to everyone else he was Reverend, Teacher, Mr. Bozarth, with the typical trappings of suit and tie and appropriate religious lexicon...not in a bad way or an insincere way, but just well...in the way you are picturing in your mind right now. There was a way about him. His traditions and goofy humor, his inability to solve a long division problem, but the wisdom and grace to meet with and advise world leaders. Are you getting a picture yet? Loving but stubborn, prideful but not arrogant. Quotes that only he would come up with, but quotes that will be carried down through the Bozarth line because we all still say them and laugh. "Don't say 'hate' on Sundays" ... "Suze, where's my...? fill in the blank." I remember he used to put milk in the freezer just long enough to get it as cold as possible before it would freeze, coupled with a bowl of cashews and M&M's sitting in his chair with a slight lean and his legs crossed just so. You could not have bribed him with all of the gold in the world to leave that happy place.
He was big, and strong, and funny, and all of my friends liked him...and yes my dad could beat up your dad...but, well, he wouldn't have. He would, however, take any phone call in the middle of the night, befriend any stranger he met, facilitate and cure broken relationships with all of the wisdom and true empathy of the finest arbiter, negotiator, counselor among us. Dad couldn’t fix anything or build anything but the grass was always cut. He was a lover of food even if it tasted horrible. Quick note to the rest of the family, dad was never just being nice when he had to eat horrendous food on a mission's trip or at someone's house....he really liked all food. One time he accidentally ate some cat food that was in the fridge at someone's house that we were staying at and he joked with us at how good it tasted, but I am 100 percent sure he was NOT joking. This was dad in all of his glory.
He was the master of his world but never thought so highly of himself that he wouldn't do anything for anybody anytime anywhere. His seeds of charity and good will are growing harvests all over the world. How many of us could say that? He never expected recognition, only respect. On our best day all of us may have one or two people that would jump in front of a train for us. Dad would have jumped in front of a train for anyone and on his worst day could have put the word out that he needed help and a 1,000 people would have come.
Always remember and never forget the ways of your loved ones. Their smell, their laugh, the foods they like, their philosophies and personal conjurations. It's what made them "them" and it has also probably crept into your fabric as well...let us embrace it.
Never apologize for laughing. Never apologize for crying or being angry. Always remember that even in the middle of your darkest hour there is hope and solace...look for it. It can be found in the intimate sounds of our loved ones memories. It's how we know who we are.
Who's on First? You're on first, I'm on first, we all are on first in a big game of tragedy, love, happiness and sadness. Speak words of life to your friends, family, and acquaintances. You never know who may need those words to get them through the day. -Todd
Anyone who knew my husband, knew him as a tall, handsome, dignified 'in charge' kind of guy. I must admit I was proud to be seen with him.
Sickness is devastating in any form and the loss of dignity is acute in most cases. Just needing help from others, in some sense, is an affront to personal dignity...or is it pride? I still haven't completely decided on that yet. In all probability, it is both....at least initially. But time in the trenches with a disease will slowly erode, or perhaps a more accurate word would be excise, our pride. We are left then with the assignment of trying to help maintain some sense of dignity for the person suffering.
I am still chronically in tune with the early days of my husband's symptoms of dementia. Each day brought new devastation as portions of his brain refused to function normally. From asking people for money, to inappropriately touching people, to hygiene issues, to falling out of bed and more, much more, the ravages of this hellish disease were on the march. Yet, he did not know or understand my fear and concerns. In an attempt to help him come to some kind of terms in regard to what was happening, I would often, very calmly, tell him that he had a brain disease but not to worry because “I've got you.” He in turn would look at me and say, “You're wrong...YOU have a brain disease.” The attempts at explanation were futile.
I know that men, in general, find their identity in 'what they do.' My husband was no exception. He loved what he did and it brought him great joy, but unfortunately the thing that brought him this joy was also the thing that brought the most hurtful blow to his shattering world. He was no longer able to function in the ministry job that brought him a fulfillment and sense of destiny that no one or no thing had up to that point. He could not grasp what had happened and asked me repeatedly why he wasn't teaching, traveling, having meetings etc. Where had all the people gone that yesterday needed his advice? Oh how my heart ached as I, once again, tried in vain to give him some acceptable reason so as to cushion the brokenness in his heart.
I repeatedly told him that he was loved and appreciated by many but nothing registered in his deteriorating brain. All he could grasp was that he had lost! For months, even years, I tried to facilitate opportunities for him to function in areas to reinforce a sense of dignity. At family gatherings we would ask him to pray, or to read a devotional, or sing...anything to help him regain a moment, a memory, of his true identity. But little by little the disease was taking over and the final blow came in a seemingly innocuous event...I took the car keys away...his last symbol of control.
Cruel, debilitating events ravage the core of the person's dignity. However, there is another kind of dignity. It is for those of us who still remember. It is a dignity of never forgetting the life lived for the person that has forgotten everything. In essence, remembering and referencing him is sustaining his dignity as a man with worth and purpose.
The memories for him are gone but they are alive and well in those of us who remember!