Christine, I hope that if I’m ever in your father’s shoes…

put_yourself_in_someone_shoes

Today, I had supervision during practicum. I rarely write in the moment, but I’ve found myself reflecting on this quite a bit, long after the conversation concluded.

It was technically supervision, but today, it was just life we talked about. Life in the moment.

“Christine, I hope that if I’m ever in your father’s shoes, one of my kids will be what you’ve been for your father.”

It stopped me. Frankly, I never expected such an honest and vulnerable admission. Yet, it wasn’t something new I have heard.

“It’s not about deserving, you know”

He asked me to explain. I did.

I spoke about how we as people are constantly giving worth and taking it away throughout various situations and with people throughout life – those that cross our paths and those that don’t. It’s almost like we have this innate, annoying tendency to measure who is worthy and who is not. Who deserves what and who does not.

I further explained that my father was never perfect.

“Show me a man that claims he is and I will show you a liar”, he responded.

I told him we recently cracked his safe. I found those power of attorney papers, the living will, and the healthcare proxy forms.

I told him about his living will.

“He wants to come home. No matter what…he wants to come home.”

I wondered aloud in his office. I wondered if it was about reciprocity.

Do we do what we can with where we are and what we know?

Or perhaps it’s all about learning what we value and standing up for those values?

I’ve heard “You’re a blessing to your father”, “You’re father is lucky to have you”…etc.

I’ll be the first to acknowledge, I’ve been a pain in his ass.

He has also been a pain in my ass.

We butted heads while I was growing up. We wanted different things for me. I challenged his beliefs and he challenged mine. He later changed his beliefs and I challenged him on knowing what he stood for. Throughout my 20’s and early 30’s, we have had many thought provoking and emotionally-charged conversations. For a guy that doesn’t like to make himself emotionally vulnerable, I knew what this meant for him.

And I do know, that he’s always tried to meet me where I was and I’ve always tried to meet him where he was.

Can we do that for our children?

Can we do that for our parents?

It’s not always easy. I’ll give anyone that. And I get why.

I too have wondered what if I was in his shoes. Would they advocate for me? Would they fight for me? Would they lose patience with me? Would they take it personal? Would they grieve for what they lost, but carry on with what they have? Would they push me? Would they wonder if they made the right decisions? Would they find gratitude? Would they get what they needed when they needed it?

Or maybe this is about him realizing that he can be imperfect and still be loved and worthy?

I’ll never forget the day the neurosurgeon said to me, “If you’re father is the kind of person that is only happy living a perfect life, now is the time to say goodbye”.

Maybe it’s about me not being ready to say goodbye…

Maybe it’s about grace…

© LifeasChristine, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Do you want a turkey?

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Me: “What are you doing tonight?”

Dad: “Sitting by the fireplace.”

Me: “And doing what?”

Dad: “Absolutely nothing. What are you doing tonight?”

Me: “Grabbing wine and relaxing.”

Dad: “So why do you want to know what I’m doing?”

Me: “Are you alone?”

Dad: “No. Jennie will be home. Do you wanna come over?”

That was one of the last text conversations I had with my father pre-traumatic brain injury. I have scrolled through our texting conversations about a hundred times since the accident. I have reflected on many years of conversation we have had. He used to joke that I was adopted. He has always been a man of few words. He referred to me as “one that never lets anything fester”.

The week leading up to his accident, I confided in him about possible cancer in the family and an emergency appointment we had to go. He responded with, “Do you want a turkey?”, followed up with “I’m going to help your husband cut some wood”.

The day before the accident, he brought wood over to my house against me telling him not to. He was stubborn and strong-willed. He also wanted to do something, but talking about things isn’t his niche. He ‘does’ instead.

I’ve been through some experiences in my life where the person I once knew is no longer the same – figuratively and literally. It doesn’t make it any easier. You’d think it would, wouldn’t you? As if having experienced the concept of the person that was is no more, would prepare one. Make it easier somehow. Feel as though you know what to expect in some way. And yet, it doesn’t.

What it does is throw me for a loop. Every time. There is a lot of processing. An enormous amount of reflection. A search for meaning. A quest for understanding. And finally, a peace of come what may – I’ll do my best and roll with it.

I’m glad that I never let things fester. I talked to him about my feelings. I talked to him about some of his life choices that I needed to understand. I talked to him about his faith. I questioned him on things. I needed to know what he wanted when he died and I made him give me specifics. I counseled him when he was in dark places. I fussed at him when he acted out of values. I dissected his values – to myself and with him. I had lengthy talks about Christa with him. I asked questions some never asked. I always asked the questions on my heart.

I spoke in depth about my teenage years during the ‘christian school days’. I reflected to him about my parenting and the differences between him and I, as well as to the ‘whys’. I always voiced my concerns, my fears, and my love. Knowing him, he wasn’t always crazy about these conversations, but he always met me where I was.

I wish that I had more time. I suppose in some ways, I had all the important conversations with him. You know the conversations we all wish we had? Yeah I had those. I made a point in having them and he actually got pretty good at doing the same when he needed to. He called me a lot during some difficult times in his life. For a strong, stoic man that rarely made himself vulnerable, he became human throughout the years. He became vulnerable to me. He voiced his fears. He admitted his short-comings. He apologized for mistakes. He made me promise to help him in times of weakness. He became human.

He has told me numerous times throughout life, “You did good Sis”.

The playing field has filled with mines, potholes, and mountains. Not sure if I’ll hear those words from him again, or if he’ll even understand what it means. But I made a promise to him years ago and he once knew that I evaluate my values like few do. I will do what I can.

The other day, I asked him, “Do you know who I am?”

He answered, “You’re Sis”

I’m rolling…

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“I promise Dad.”

“Promise me something.”

It was a random phone call in the middle of the night. I am not a fan of random phone calls, but this one was different.

“What?”

“Promise me that you will never put me in a nursing home! Promise me, right here, right now. Promise me Christine!”

“I promise Dad.”

I made a promise to my father a few years ago. We don’t agree on everything, but we agree on nursing homes – they kill people.

Nursing homes take the glue out of what holds families together, isolating and suffocating until the glue dries up crusty and suffers a cold, lonely death. Yeah, I hate nursing homes.

My step-mom spent the last years of her life stuck in a nursing home. I hated every aspect of it. I hated what it represented, what it meant, and what it brought.

My grandmother was placed in a nursing home. She was a strong-willed woman. About a year later, that nursing home broke her spirit and will to live.

I hate nursing homes.

I didn’t always hate nursing homes. I worked at one when I was young. It wasn’t my niche.

As life progressed and nursing homes took on another angle within my life, I began to reflect on the concept of them.

I always wondered why our society embraced this notion. I suppose people sometimes do what they have to, but then again, do they?

Some lessons and values in life are quite painful.

I know this one was for me personally, but I won’t let that lesson go to the wayside.

“I promise Dad.”

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.