I’m getting ready to leave for Colorado this afternoon. The trip has been planned for months. In fact, we make this trip every summer so I guess you could say the trip has been planned for years. The travel has been planned for a long time but the itinerary was changed significantly less than a week ago. My dad had brain surgery to remove blood that collected as a result of a hemorrhage a day or so earlier. Now, rather than travelling to local sites and family visits, it looks like some time spent in caregiving.
Dad apologized for having this happen now and “messing up our vacation.” This brought to mind the time Dad had an opportunity to be a sponsor for a group of young people on a trip to the United Nations. The Odd Fellows were sponsoring this trip and they asked Dad to join them. This was something he very much wanted to do but he turned them down. I remember him crying after hanging up the phone after he had declined the opportunity. He said it wouldn’t be fair for him to go on the trip and leave his family home. Changing our vacation plans did not “mess up” anything. It gives me an opportunity to do something for someone who has done so much for me.
I don’t know all that will be involved but I do know there will be some trips to the doctor and to the hospital for some follow-up tests. I remember when I was nine years old and my thumb was in the way when a car door closed. Dad took me to see Dr. Denny who confirmed the thumb was broken and directed us to go to the emergency room. My parents took me to the emergency room and then back to hospital a few days later for surgery. They didn’t complain that I had messed up their plans for the week.
Dad’s mobility is limited so I will have to help him to and from the car and helping him negotiate the steps will probably require some heavy lifting. I remember many times when I fell asleep in the car on the way home and waking up the next morning in my bed. Dad didn’t mind the heavy lifting and I won’t either.
My brother tells me that Dad is having trouble with numbers and finances. This is attributed to swelling in the brain from the trauma of the surgery. Hopefully, that skill will come back before too long. When I was little, I used to help Dad with the evening chores. I remember him helping me learn my times tables while he milked the cow. I’d be happy to help him with some cyphering, it’s the least I could do.
I might have to empty his catheter bag or help him to the bathroom. That’s not too much to do for a guy that used to change my diapers. I may have to run some errands for him. It’s not even possible to count the times he took me places or picked me up at the school after basketball practice or games. I don’t expect to have to feed him, but I’d be happy to do it; he fed me and after I was able to feed myself, he provided food for a growing boy for many years.
I could go on but just counting this handful of blessings reminds me of the great privilege that awaits me later today. It’s a privilege to be able to give – if only for a few days – to the man that has given to me since before I was even born. I know — because he as given to others his whole life – he would do the same for me if the roles were reversed.