Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dad


Sunday was my dad's 79th birthday.  We went down to visit (4 hour trip south) and took lunch and a cake, of course.  It was german chocolate, the kind my mom always made...I didn't make it, but it's the thought that counts, right?
Sunday was my latest reminder that my dad isn't who he used to be.  For a while, he has been losing his hearing and refusing to get it checked or have hearing aids.  He can't hear my voice on the phone at all.  I quit trying last Father's Day, when I called to wish him a happy day and I couldn't get him to understand who I was.  He has also been forgetting things, repeating himself, losing things and he didn't plant his garden this year...only a few tomatoes.  We had been torn between his hearing being his problem and his memory being his problem.  Which was the problem?  How can you have that kind of serious discussion with your first teacher, your mentor, your first true love when he can't really hear you?
Sunday drained me.  I have been so tired since Sunday.  Really just want to lay in bed tired...and today we didn't even go out to La Ti Da to work on the house...maybe later this evening...maybe.  My mind can't rest.  My brother, who lives near dad, has been doing all the work and he is tired, too.  He check on dad all the time, takes him food, mows the grass with him, etc and dad appreciates that...tells you over and over what a big help he is, but brother is tired...drained, I'm sure in a way I can't even really imagine.  I haven't called him often enough to try to relieve the burden in some way.  He gave me a few things to help him out from here and I am doing them.
Sunday was the day that I was reminded that I can't fix everything.  That is hard.  I am a fixer. 
I am embarassed to say that I all too often try to fix whatever the problem is before I ever turn to God in prayer.  Why isn't God my first line of defense instead of my last resort?
My brothers and I watched our mom die of cancer, but she - the wholeness of herself - didn't leave us until the very end, only her body was failing her.  Her heart and mind never did.  This is so different.

As we got in the car to leave, after hugs all around, Dad stood outside the car window and said, "I'm not crazy."

Yes.  I'm in a tiredness, but one of  Dad's most enduring lessons is to get up and do what needs done...
Now, if I only knew what that was.
Praying...listening...trying to make my Dad proud.

Thanks for listening.

14 comments:

Karyn said...

I am so sorry you are having to go through this. I don't know, but I can imagine how difficult it must be. If there is one thing I can bet on it's that your dad is proud of you. I'm praying with you...for answers, strength, peace, and rest.

I'm always listening whenever you need it. <3

Donna said...

Thanks so much. I was going to say something after Zumba on Tuesday, but...didn't. You are one of my voices that speak truth...

Karyn said...

You could've. Should've. You always listen to me. It's a blessing to be able to return the favor.

By the way, I LOVE your dad's Kool Aid shirt. :D

Donna said...

Yeah, that was his birthday gift and he put it right on and said it was his color! At least that made him happy. We'll talk soon.

Chelsea Marie Long said...

Love you and Papa very much! I know it's hard and we try and do some things here and there like sending him food and supplies, but it's not an easy situation. All you can do is love him and do the best you can. And no, he's not crazy. Well, not any crazier than he has always been :)

He does look good in blue. How cool is he? How many people can say their grandpa wears kool-aid shirts haha? (At least 3 of us!)

Donna said...

Thanks so much, Chelsea. Keep trying to be in touch with him. I sent him photos of your graduation and he just glowed. He is so proud of you.

no spring chicken said...

This is so hard and I'm so sorry! Is your dad a believer? Does he still read well? Maybe you could communicate better with written notes. Then you get to say what you want to say without the frustration of trying to see if he's hearing you.

We ALL are guilty to some extent of trying to fix things before taking them to the Lord. I'm praying for you sister, and for your dad, and for your brother... right now.

I pray that peace, patience, gentleness and longsuffering will be the fruit that is manifest as you and your brother minister to your dad. I pray that your dad will be comfortable and have joy in this final season of his life and that he will know Jesus in a way that the family can't even imagine!

Blessings, Debbie

Donna said...

Debbie, that means so much to me. Dad is a believer. Brother is a doubting believer, perhaps. I am leaning into God's love and the love of friends like you. How do non-believers get through these sadnesses? I can't imagine.

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

{{hugs}} to you, Donna. And, prayers for strength and guidance and peace... blessings ~ Tanna

Donna said...

Thanks, Tanna. Thanks so much.

K said...

Oh, Donna. I live two days' drive from my folks. They moved to Texas from New York my senior year of high school. I left for college less than a year later. Went back to visit for a summer or two, but then separated and just lived my life up here, visiting every year for a week. And they visited us. I loved my family. But my mother was the person I always turned to. I don't know how long ago it was. Maybe seven years ago, one day when I called her, she said, "Just a minute," after I'd greeter her and I heard her call, "Jack? There's some girl on the phone. She says her name is Kristen." And that was the first I knew. after that, the calls got weirder and weirder. My sister lives down there, and has been shouldering the work of my parents' age. Two or three years ago now, my mom almost died (we grieve that she didn't) and ended up in a nursing home that's costing my dad about six thousand dollars a month - while he lives alone, still quite capable of handling his own affairs, but constantly anxious over every detail. Part of what has been wearing me out - this will sound stupid - is the old dogs - watching them going down, and loving them - and seeing my mother go from the bright, dear, very capable person she always has been to a skeleton with skin stretched across it - hair cut boy short - can't talk, doesn't know us - but is still, though deep in a dream - willing to chuckle when my father tries to flirt with her.

No amount of prayer, I think, can change any of this. It's part of the earth experience -both for her and for us - testing us both so that we, standing before our Father, will be able to see what we chose - what we were made of when it came to this - the memory of individual love, the execution of love for the sake only of loving and being true. Our gratitude. Our courage.

I am home from vacation, and have been feeling blue this morning, what with the wedding coming up so very soon, and that close friendship to be relinquished (which, of course, is right and exactly the way it should be - but still a kind of death), and the tears are just swamping my face, thinking about this kid of non-death-death also. In many ways, I love change, but this change is so brutal, so unkind, so wrenching -and permanent. I think I'm saying I know where you are - both the horror and confusion of the experience, and the guilt that our sibs are carrying the direct burden. And endings. But mortality is all about endings. It's the end of our relationship here. But not the end of life. It's just hard to hold on to the hope of renewal and re-birth when death is all we know in our immediate experience.

This part of life is kind of sucky. And so I stand next to you and hold your hand. And cry on your shoulder and pat your hair. A new house, and moving on; an old father and losing something that used to be the standard reality of our lives. The anchors come loose. We catch the anchor, then in our own hands, and wonder how anybody ever expected us to know what to do with it.

Donna said...

Ah, Kristen, once again we find a connection. You were no accidental blog world find, but a gift of immeasurable worth.
I seriously go between wanting to do the right thing and wanting to run far away. Why can't happy beginnings just be happy? Why can't life be predictable and easy?
I suppose it is like you said...these are the times that show us who we are and who we can become. As we lived through the horror of cancer with my mom, we all rose up...

I am ever so grateful that you are willing to walk with me...and I will stand with you as you say good-bye to your Murphy and your sweet old dogs as the time comes...heart to heart!

K said...

I am so blessed to know you. I guess the whole "the way it should be" is for after. This place isn't supposed to be easy. It's supposed to be complicated. And certainly, it was so for Christ - if he had to face what he had to face then the least of us have to have a sup of it, too. It's how we deepen, I guess. But there are times, I must admit, that I wish my blond hair had brought with it a happy vapidness. It doesn't last long, that half wish, but it always makes me sigh -

Donna said...

I am listening to a sermon series about healing, but the thing that is sticking with me is when he says that all of the good things, the healthy things, the happy things that happen to us here are just previews of coming attractions...yippee!