Another long challenging day in Tucson, Arizona as we all try to do our best to care for my father. I’m hoping the explanation to his deep confusion is because of the many weeks of meds and no solid food. He did not feel this sick when he had the beginning stages of throat cancer. Now he is someone recovering from the damaging effects of chemo and radiation. What are our choices here? My father is 85 years old. Die because we have cancer? Or die because we are fighting cancer? Is it just a different journey with the same end result? But not being able to eat?! As for me, if I don’t eat I can not function. . .
I am mindful of my brief but lovely and blessed experience today when I went out side for some fresh air to take a moment. The air so pure it made me feel lighter. The clouds were putting on a magnificent show of many colors. With a motion of their own, both my arms stretched to the clouds. They longed to grab on and be carried away into the cold brisk clean air. What a freeing moment that would be. . .
Turning around I see the doors of the skilled living facility where my father is literally putting up a wicked fight to get his life back and get back home. In his rough of a whisper agonizing voice he speaks of his cat. The cat I am taking care of. The cat he misses that is inside of the home that he misses. . . Perhaps it was the clouds. Perhaps it was the wind. Perhaps it was because I felt a little cold. But I knew in that moment that this is not my sadness. This is not my struggle. This is not my day to be in a wheelchair fighting to stand up. All of this belongs to my father. My father the lifeguard. The swimmer at Michigan State. The original lover of dogs and cats. The Sierra Club leader. The tennis player. The single father during the late 60’s and 70’s. The guy telling a funny joke at the bar while he sips his beer. The golfer who loves the sport so much that he bought a home in Tucson with a view of a Golf Course. The guy who keeps trying with all his might to stand up from his wheel chair. He’s frustrated. Confused. The caregivers and nurses kindly ask him to “please sit back down”. They have to speak over the loud buzzing of the high-pitched bells. And all I am is the daughter who gets the honor of standing by his side and holding his frail arm and says, “I’m right here Dad, you stand untill you want to sit back down.” It was for quite a few more seconds, but he did it. I kneeled next to him looked up and I told him my truth, “Dad, I admire you.” And it was good. It was simple. It was empowering.
Tomorrow I get to do it all over again – except tomorrow – I’m going to bring his cat with me. Let’s change-up this journey a bit. . .