Wednesday, May 02, 2012
My sister told me I needed to hurry. She said dad was hanging on so he could say good-bye to me. Just an aside, the state police, especially the highway patrol donít grasp the concept of ďhaving to hurry.Ē Looking back, I was glad I had eight hours and four hundred miles to prepare. Aside number two: I hate hospitals, sickness and death. They create an anxiety attack in the pit of my stomach just waiting to occur. My dad had always been a strong person, both physically, and mentally. Until his vision left him he and my mom walked to Mass every morning, a round trip of over two miles. Likewise he took water aerobics well into his 80ís. Yes, I know, I had an amazing gift in my life. I am 58 and until six weeks ago both my parents were alive, lucid, and relatively healthy. All this spun through my mind as I drove north. Aside number three: When you are really scared and feel extremely threatened deep inside counting your blessings isnít much of an antidote. I didnít want to go in alone. I donít know how to handle that stuff emotionally. I sort of freeze. I get tongue tied. Joan acts like she does this stuff every day so she went with me in case my motor skills abandoned me. My dad had an oxygen mask on so it was difficult to understand him. He reached for my hand and motioned for Joan to pull the oxygen mask away.
ď I have no regrets, Iíve led a good life, but gosh it went by so fast.Ē
We stayed with him for a little while longer and then we were told to leave. He looked up at me and squeezed my hand. The look said ďRemember what I just said.Ē Dad hung on another two days but that was the last lucid moment I had with him. In all honesty the next few weeks were a blur. There is disbelief, followed by numbness, followed by this over all deconstruction of your emotional self as you go to pick up the phone to share things with him and realize he wonít be on the other end. Finally something that resembles resignation begins to build a place inside of you.
So I am driving down the road last Friday and suddenly there is this defined ray of sunshine in my soul. Aside number four: sometimes it takes a while for me to ďget it.Ē I realized that what he was telling me was to take advantage of every possible moment you have in your life and donít ever miss an opportunity to do something new or different. I thought about the stuff I wished I had done with the kids when they were younger. Aside number five: I have a 24 year old daughter who still reminds me I never took her fishing. But I have come to believe that regretting the past is like rocking in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesnít get you anywhere. My dad was telling me to take advantage of every opportunity that crossed my path. I might not get a second chance.
Somewhere in this moment a lot of my anxiety disappeared. It was like the story in the Gospel, where Jesus healed the blind man, suddenly he could see clearly. Most of what we fail to do comes from some sort of inborn fear that we wonít succeed so I mean why try. We who struggle with our weight carry an extra self-imposed cross. We hold ourselves up to ridicule because we believe the world is judging us negatively. So we stay at home and sit on the couch and munch on Cheetos and lament our fate. We never see ourselves as being inspiring to other people. We rarely take the opportunity to get out there and make our mark. Weíre going to wait until we get to that perfect pants or dress size. My dad pointed out in a most poignant way that waiting, is wasting time and resource.
Yup, I am over weight. Yup, I struggle and please donít consider me arrogant or self-involved, but I believe that my struggle and my journey can be a source of inspiration to other people. It CAN if I get off the couch, put myself out there and allow myself to experience life show other people striving for health can pay off. I havenít lost a hundred pounds and I never will as long as I limit the world before me. This is as much about what comes out of us as what goes into our mouths.
This blog is about me and about you. My dad, and possible many people in your life, may have pointed that out to us. Itís safe to treat this as a heartwarming Kleenex moment. Thatís the easy road. The hard road for me is to go out and live his challenge.
Anyone want to take a walk?