• The Jim Gray Gallery

Something about a smile...

It has been a bit since we have shared time, dear readers. Last week I flew to Alabama and then drove my sister Laurie up from Huntsville to Bloomington, Indiana. The six hour drive was a wonderful opportunity for her and I to have the kinds of in depth discussions that families really need to make time for, especially when a loved one is slipping away. When my sister and I last saw Dad, he was still living in the same building with Mom, and although they were on separate floors at night, they still spent much of their waking time in each other's company. Three weeks before this trip, Dad had fallen and cut his head, requiring a short hospital stay. Upon coming out of the hospital, after discussing with all involved, we decided to move Dad to a memory care nursing facility in Nashville Indiana, the town where my brother Matt has business and would be able to visit Dad multiple times a day.

While all three of us were in town, we tag teamed the visits with both our folks and took Mom over to visit Dad each day. Without exception, whenever Jim was told that Fran was coming to see him, he would smile that kind of smile that you know is just welling up from his heart that is filled with more than 65 years of love. When Fran sat down at the dinner table across from Jim the second afternoon we all were together, Laurie spoke up and told Dad that "his Frannie" was sitting down in front of him. He raised his head and looked at her with his one good eye, and he said just as clear as can be, " There's my girl." Those words brought true joy to Mom's heart and once again, that joy flowed up and out as a beautiful loving smile! I happened to have the camera ready, and thank God for the captured memory of her face.



Fran never once wore the showy outfit, as Jim painted her in his Joy of Life Parade, but she sure did wear that smile a lot of times since they married in 1953!


Here is a brief audio clip of a discussion about smiles, recorded in November 2018.


This trip to see our folks, in late April 2019, really caught Laurie and I off guard. Dad had declined significantly in the previous four to six weeks. Matt being able to visit him multiple times each day has been a blessing for all of us. I told my brother that I am eternally grateful for all that he and his family do in the absence of the rest of us, and I know the time demands that being there near our folks places on him. Yet, I also told him that, in a way, I envy him for being physically close enough to have these daily visits. He smiled at me, with the emotion welling up in his eyes and told me that he understood what I was saying.

This seems like a good time to introduce another smile in our family. When Dad had to move, Mom and our whole family were blessed when Polly became Fran's roommate.

These two are like peas in a pod. Fran has a new best friend or sister, and we've now got a wonderful Aunt Polly!



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