Posted by: sistermom1 | July 10, 2011

Missing My Father

Yesterday was the 7th anniversary of my father’s death. Not sure that it is anything worth celebrating – but certainly acknowledging. And being quiet with for more than a moment. I did not remember until my brother called and asked if I remembered what the date meant. It was only then did I recall.

Seven years ago yesterday,  I had been coordinating a trip for the sistermoms to see The Lion King in Baltimore. The four of us were all going, and it was to be the kids’ first near-Broadway experience. I so loved going to NY to see plays when I was growing up. It was a special time spent with my mother. The first play that she took me to was a musical – “Purlie Victorious” with Cleavon Little and Melba Moore. It was absoluteley magical.  I have never forgotten how special it was, and I enjoy theatre to this day. That was the idea behind organizing this trip, and everyone was looking forward to going.

Well, at that time my father had been having difficult nights.  My siblings and I had been spending nights at our parents’ home for so that our mother was not left alone to deal with any probems with our Dad. On that Saturday evening we all slept at the house. Early Sunday morning my brother woke me to say that it was near the end and if I wanted to say anything to Dad I should come quickly. We all were together with him as he transitioned quietly that morning.  It was amazing to participate in such a life-affirming activity. Such an amazing transition completely eradicated any fear I had about death or dying.  As a Buddhist, through study I have developed a different way of looking at and accepting the eternal nature of life.  Even with that reality, facing my father’s death was a true challenge for me.  And yet, here it was, happening at what could only be called a very hectic and busy time.  Needless to say, I did not go with my family to the theatre that day.

The next few days were hectic, busy and frankly, a whirlwind.  We planned a funeral (the first one I have ever been a part of planning — the fact that it was for my own father was really unbelievably challenging and I thank him for giving me the strength to pull through it).  The funeral was a real event — There are many stories that I could share, but not now.  Just suffice it to say that I will never forget how many of our friends showed up to celebrate the life of an amazing man — our incredible father.

This morning I was reminded of how much I miss my father.  He was a psychiatrist with a successful private practice.  His quiet, confident presence was always very calming to me, and he was an empathetic listener as well as a great tactitian/problem-solver.  He died the same  year I was diagnosed with MS.  Unfortunately his Alzheimer’s disease had already taken much of him away from us.  He did know that something was wrong with me, and that it upset my mother, but he really did not seem to understand my daignosis and what was happening. 

I have shared in earlier posts that my father was physically challenged.  He had a bout of polio as a child, which resulted in disfiguring his left foot and in him walking with a pronounced limp.  He was a tall man – gracious and elegant despite his handicap.  As I type this, I am reminded of the first time I ever heard the word “handicapped” used to describe him.   It was my senior year of high school.  This makes me smile as I think about how often I now use this word to describe my own condition. 

I wish my father was still here, and I really miss him.  There are many questions I would ask him as I struggle with successfully managing my current physical challenges.  How to be a great parent despite my physical limitations.  How not to weigh our kids down with huge expectations since there are so many things that I need their help doing.  How to make sure that they feel limitless and capable and well-loved and so many of the things that I feel even now as I look back at my own experience growing up with a parent who has physical challenges and who did not allow that to overwhelm his parenting style.

I am confident that if I pay close attention, the answers to these and many other questions that I have will reveal themselves to me.  They may come through the morning breezes.  They may also come through through words of the many people who help me navigate successfully through each day.  I do need to pay attention to – be mindful of – what the universe brings to me.  Take it in and use it to my development and advancement.  Always moving forward – never backwards.  I am determined to wring the value out of every experience that this journey brings my way….

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Responses

  1. Linda: I thought about you today as I dropped my son off at sleep-away camp. Thanks so much for recommending the camp. All week he didn’t want to go. Wanted me to cancel. I tried to calm his fears. This would not be his first away camp. Last night I showed him the pictures from last year’s camp and it made him feel ok. He even asked that I sign him up for next year. He beamed as we checked him in today. He even wanted me to leave as soon as possible. “I don’t need your help to set up my bed mom,” he said. “I can take it from here.” He did eventually ask for my help. But I felt better knowing he was going to be ok. Thank you so much for suggesting this camp. I also checked out your blog for the first time and I loved it. I couldn’t stop reading. I smell a book here. Most of all — thank you for the words of inspiration and encouragement that comes through your strength. I will make every effort not to complain about the little hiccups in my life.


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