Tuesday, March 27, 2012
To Wear It or Not To Wear It - That Is The Question
I have never known my father to wear his emotions on his sleeve. He grew up a tough boy. I have not heard many stories from his youth from either him or his brother, my Uncle Keith. I can piece together bits and pieces here and there and come up with a weak picture of who he was but all I can figure out at this point is that he seemed to be a pretty tough kid. In fact, on photo that I adore of him and his family growing up shows a very obvious shiner on his right eye! I trust the other guy looked worse.
My father was in the Navy and he was in Vietnam before we were officially there. He was a sniper. He was young, he was tough, and he was trained to kill. He was also a firefighter, able to walk right in to a burning building without thinking twice in order to save another life. My dad is one strong cookie.
During the five days that Mom was in hospice we had some emotional roller coasters from Dad. I watched him get angry, upset, confused, sad, lonely and scared. At first he was not to quick to share these openly with me but as the week progressed he slowly opened up. I think he realized that the emotions he would normally share with Mom would need to be shared with someone new. I’m blessed and honored that he chose me.
I visited Dad yesterday and we spent some time talking about the days in hospice. Dad is completely aware that she was in the hospital for some tests and treatments (chemo) and that she didn’t handle that very well. I told Dad that during the Saturday night that I stayed with them Mom had had a stroke and that is why she was unable to walk or speak very clearly. He remembers getting frustrated because he couldn’t understand her and says he still feels a little guilty about that. I reassured him that it was nothing to feel guilty about but I know that is something he has to work out within him. He said he breaks down about twice a day, once during the morning hours and then as he puts his head to sleep and looks over at the vacant side of Mom’s bed. It breaks my heart. His heart is broken, too. we cried together a little bit, nothing over-dramatic, and then moved the subject to more pleasant thoughts.
Dad is anxious to do something. He is not sure what but he wants to do something to help keep him busy. He says he gets bored in the apartment and isn’t sure what to do. That is my opening to get him connected with a local senior program that provides companionship and activities for seniors. they will even come to their apartment and pick him up. I’m excited that he wants to do something like that and when I mention it to him he seems to perk up a bit.
Everyday I’m not sure what we will face. Each day is brand new and can bring about challenges and opportunities. Nothing is ever an ‘issue’ or a ‘problem’ but an opportunity. A chance to face something you haven’t faced before and a chance to overcome adversity once again. My father taught me that outlook and I have brought that in to my personal life as well as my professional career.
We have so many opportunities facing us every single day. How we approach those is up to us. We can remain depressed and angry or sad over it. We can choose to allow those opportunities to turn in to true problems. We can choose to wrap it around us and wear it for all to see and to hope that something or someone will see it and help us through it. We can complain about it as loudly as we can and we can even profess that it has won the battle over our life for that day. Or we can face it – stand on top of it – be victorious over it – and use that opportunity to improve our life. The choice is ours. Wear our problems and thereby allow them to completely envelope our very being or not wear it and stand tall and proud over it.