Tuesday, February 10, 2009

When a Parent is Sick

When a parent is sick, it can be hard to cope. As I write this, my dad is in ICU at a nearby hospital, fighting for his life. He has inoperable cancer, complicated by pnuemonia and rapid ventricular response. The cancer seems to be shrinking, but the complications are life-threatening.

A while back, my husband was talking with a friend, discussing some of the older men they knew as children. His friend shook his head and asked, "When did we turn into the older men?"

What has that to do with my dad? Just this, life goes on, generation after generation, a cycle that continues until the end of time. Many of the adults I knew as a child are gone, now. My contemporaries are now the grandparents, and some are soon to be great-grandparents.

I look at my dad and my mom and realize that I will not have them for very many more years. My husband lost both his parents last summer, which is probably why I am thinking about this so much. My mom is my very best friend, though I don't know for sure she knows that. She is one of the few people I can talk to about any subject, and I love her dearly. I wish she lived closer so we could talk more often.

But my dad...how do I describe what he means to me. He is, and always has been, my strength. He tells stories of his youth and I sit amazed at his adventures. Does he embellish? Maybe, it doesn't matter--he is a master storyteller. He can fix almost anything electrical or mechanical, as long as it isn't computerized. Computers he leaves to younger generations. He isn't afraid of them, he just has no use for them.

He believes in saying what you mean, and meaning what you say. If he says it, you can count on it. He is willing to help anyone in any way he can, but he expects and requires fair treatment from others, too. He taught me that it is ok to be afraid, but it is not ok to let others know you are afraid. Stand fast and don't let your fears or misgivings show--they can be used against you.

Someday, if I live long enough, I will not have him. This saddens me and breaks my heart. The same is true of my mom. Just the same, it is soon time to pass the torch to the next generation, just as my generation will someday pass it on to our children. I know few people who do not hurt when thinking of these coming days, and feel sorrow for them and with them.

My dad is a hero in my eyes, and always will be. I love you, Daddy. Get well soon.

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