I worry about my Dad all the time, but I worry most of all at Christmas.
Dad has always embraced Christmas with great enthusiasm; he virtually epitomized Christmas spirit, and that enthusiasm was so infectious that everyone who knew him was inspired. Since Mom died in December of 2002, though, his Christmas joy has been intermingled with a solemnity and sadness because of the memories of her final days.
Dad wants to like Christmas. He tries to rekindle the old fires of excitement for the holiday. He speaks of it often. He decorates early. He listens to the Christmas songs that he used to enjoy.
But as December reaches its midpoint, he misses Mom more than ever. He seems more frustrated with the season, and I'm not sure he really knows why. And I think he gets frustrated with himself that he can't find happiness at this time.
My sister mentioned that, for the first time, Dad is talking about "if I'm here for next Christmas" when he discusses his plans. It's a change that we've both noticed, and one that disturbs me.
One friend mentioned that, when her mother died, her father worked methodically to complete things that he had promised her mother that he would see to. Once they were done, once his mental list was checked off, he felt that his mission was complete. He died a few months later... not of anything any particular other than subconscious decision that it was time to move on.
I fervently hope I'm not seeing that scene play out right now with my own father...