Monday, February 02, 2009

Healing at Home

I have been worrying about my Dad, and have gone back and forth to my parents' house this past week about an hour away. Dad found out that he had prostate cancer just before Christmas, and the decision was made to remove it all. He was very scared to have the operation as he has enjoyed a very healthy 74 years so far, despite previous smoking and drinking habits, and he was inexperienced with hospital stays and procedures. Plus, it's just plain scary.

I went down to drive him home from the hospital in the middle of a nasty snowstorm, determined to get him home to the comfort and quiet of his own bed. I stayed for two days and watched my parents manage this crisis in the matter-of-fact way that is their custom...but also with great tenderness and with the ease of their familiarity and trust. He let my mom help him, and she was respectful and kind to him. I did dishes, laundry, filled bird feeders, shoveled snow, cooked a bit, and stayed up late with my mom. I really did very little, but I felt that I was where I belonged.

When I was growing up, my parents both worked full time and there was not much time for family connection time or even affection. There was always a sense of deep dedication and a maybe false, but very real sense of permanaence as I look back, mostly thanks to my mom. The foundation shifted from time to time, but it didn't crumble. Now that there is the time and the need for affection, it is there. I find myself realizing it is never too late to show affection or to be more verbal about feelings. We realize how precious our time together is in a way we didn't before. I know my dad regrets not being more present for us as kids, but I also know that what he gave us then, and certainly what he offers now, is much more than he could have ever wished for from his own folks. He thanked me a lot for helping and told me that he thought I was a good mom; that he loved my kids and my husband. I'm glad he is still here to say such things, and I feel lucky to hear them. I can feel how important it is, and it reminds me of how powerful my own words can be to my kids.

My dad's healing heals me too.

All one can do is to achieve nakedness,
to be what one is with all one's faculties and perceptions,
strengthened by all the skill which one can acquire,

And then to stand before the judgement of time.

Stephen Spender


debra said...

I had been with both of my parents during serious illnesses, and am now with my in-laws. Intense times, these, and special in their own way. I am glad for you that you can be where you need to be. Remember to take care of yourself.

singingfamily said...

oh Christa, with all my blubbering I didn't even know this was going on! I'm glad to see you were able to be there for them!
They are lucky