Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Spring Break 2016: My Dad

While Jim's Dad was in the hospital, my sister, Leanne, was in Oklahoma at the doctor with my Dad.

My Dad has Parkinson's. Unfortunately, the main medicine he needs for mobility...is causing him to experience hallucinations.

Some of them are kind of funny...like when he thought there were bums up in the attic cooking hot dogs.

But some of them are most definitely NOT funny...like when they make my Dad feel afraid.

With my Joshua...his safety is my highest concern. But, even more than safety, is that I never want him to feel fear. Like, straight-up, legit FEAR.

Have you ever been afraid?

My mother-in-law says things like, "I'm afraid he's not going to like that job." Or, "I'm afraid that business is not going to make it." Or, "I'm afraid I've burned the biscuits."

In the words of Joshua: imnottalkingaboutthatrightnow.

I'm talking about scared-for-your-life fear.

I can't even think about dealing with that type of fear...how in the WORLD would I expect one so innocent to be able to handle it?

The same thing goes for my Dad...because, while he's not a child...or even someone who would "technically" be characterized as having "special needs..." his medication makes him vulnerable to fear, and unable to discern between what is real...and what is not real.

The side effects of his meds make him think people are in their house...or that they are trying to break into their house...and he gets so afraid. This just breaks my heart.

So, after Jim's Dad got to come home from the hospital, and appeared to be doing okay...we headed up to Oklahoma to see my Dad and Clara.

My Dad is the best man I know. He is a godly husband, father, and grandfather. He is loving, kind, and patient. He is consistent. He is a servant. He is humble. He is patriotic. He is calm. He is steadfast. He is steady.

Don't judge him by what you see now.

Better yet...let's don't judge anyone by their appearance or behavior.

That old man in front of you at McDonald's? The one who is asking the checker to repeat things 57 times? Who just spilled his coffee while shuffling back to his table? Who can't get the package of ketsup open? Who is having trouble fastening his belt in the bathroom?

He served our country FOR YOU. Maybe he used to teach kids LIKE YOU. Maybe he was a doctor and took care of people LIKE YOU...or your children. Maybe he used to lead the music at your church Maybe he was an author. Maybe he was a motivational speaker. Maybe he used to keep an immaculate yard. Maybe he coached the football team to the state play-offs years ago.

You just never know about people.

My Dad used to stand straight and tall. He was handsome and distinguished-looking. My Dad served our country well for 20 years in the USAF. He raised 4 children. He served on-staff at a church after retirement...and then he and my Mom bought their own business. He was a husband to my Mom for nearly 40 years. After her death, he married Clara...and they have been married for 15 years. He was a BOSS at handball and racquetball...pretty much up until his heart attack 4 1/2 years ago. He has been well-thought-of everywhere he's been...church, work, at the gym.

Outwardly, he is not the same as the man I just described. He doesn't hear well at all. His feet move slowly now...he shuffles everywhere he goes. He is bent over, and stares mostly at the ground...for balance, but also because it takes a lot of effort to straighten up. He can't always get his body to do what he wants it to do. He can't always recall the exact word he needs...but at our last visit, he could recall every school he ever went to...and, as an Air Force Brat...and being nearly 80 years old...that's a pretty amazing feat! And, he still has his same quick wit...cracking jokes and keeping us laughing.

But his spirit? It's strong. He weathered the death of a spouse. He's living with the loss of ability. He's frustrated...but he's not bitter. He says he feels extremely blessed.

His words: "I've had a good life. I was a good husband and tried to be a good father. I was always good in school...good in athletics. I was always good at my job, no matter what it was. This is really my only adversity...my only trial. Sometimes I complain, but I don't mean to...I have no reason to...because God has blessed me beyond measure. I'm just gonna try to praise the Lord through it all."

"...shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" Job 2: 10

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

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