Thursday, August 14, 2014

Living Well

21 days. 21 days. 21 days.

21 days until the kid lets are back in school and my time is my own once again. At least from 9 til 4 it will be my own. I can work, grab a latte, visit with a friend, write, read (vacuum, do laundry, dust, clean bathrooms, grocery shop … ) all in relative silence if I wish. I can listen to the CDs I want to listen to, move around my house without being asked why or what I'm doing and go longer than 18 seconds without breaking up a fight or hearing about Dr. Who.

Just 21 days.

In the mean time, I sit on my patio, listening to my kids murder each other in the pool while I try to do the final (and this time I mean FINAL) revisions on my manuscript. In reality, these revisions won't be done today. I have lugged my ruddy laptop everywhere with me for the last six weeks and I am still two chapters away from completion. I have been distracted - big time - this summer. Between renovations at work (yay!), planning our summer programs in KidMin, doing some landscaping at home, putting in a pool, helping out some friends and running back and forth to my parents place and the hospital I feel like I'm unravelling. I just want to finish this book. And breath.

As most of you know, my Dad has been battling cancer for the past three years. He's had a few set backs this year and things haven't worked out as we had hoped. Trips have been cancelled, treatments have changed and changed some more and changed again. Just when we thought Dad was getting better there was another setback. My parents have been pretty private about the details of Dad's journey so I will try to honour that but you need to know that this has been a long and stressful six months.

Yet, still my Dad is smiling.

Right now he has an infection that has landed him in an isolation ward at the hospital. In order to visit him you have to go through two sets of vacuum sealed doors, wash your hands at least three times, don a lovely yellow hospital gown and wear latex gloves (after applying gobs and gobs of antiseptic hand wash between every step of cleansing and layering). This is an inconvenience for us but Dad can't leave his room. That is a nightmare for him.

Dad is an outdoor guy. He loves to putter, walk, garden, mow and snooze in the sunshine. He loves planning bonfires for the kids and BBQs with his friends. Days spent at the lake are his very favourite. He loves walking the beach, holding hands with my Mom, and watching the kids jump in the waves. Dad loves every second of summer so this confinement has to be a test on his patience but you wouldn't know it.

Dad has developed a bit of a reputation at the hospital. He has been in this ward a few times over the past six months and the staff know him well. They know him for his crazy pajama pants, his Mexico resort t-shirts and his huge grin. They know him for never complaining, always smiling and caring about their lives. They know him for being kind, patient and a pleasure to work with. They know him.

As I was leaving the hospital last night a group of nurses were standing by the desk. It was shift change and they were just getting caught up on their patients. One nurse asked another what patients they had. The nurse listed off four names, my Dad's being the last.

"You have Carson? Lucky! He's wonderful!"

I beamed with pride as I washed, antibacterialed and walked through the vacuum sealed doors. I thought about my Dad as I made my way through corridors and out of the hospital. The nurse was right. He is wonderful. I had spent seven hours with him that day. It had been tough, his temps were high and he was feeling crumby yet he joked, teased and smiled. He asked about each of my kids, about Mr. Awesome, my job and what was on my mind. We talked about plans and dreams and we talked about nothing. He dozed on and off but each time he woke up he smiled.

At one point, my mom rolled her chair to the head of his bed and leaned over til they were forehead to forehead. They stayed like that for several minutes, locked in private, intimate conversation. I almost took a picture of them but that's one image I want to keep just for myself. One mental picture of my parents loving well, living well.

Living well.

That's my dad. He has always lived well. He has always worked hard, loved well, been kind, generous and loyal. He has always volunteered his time and cared about those around him but all of this has been amplified in recent months. The worse his circumstances seem, the brighter he shines. He hasn't let setbacks and detours change him or steal his joy. He has been sad and frustrated at times but he has always lived well. In tough conversations with doctors and nurses he has been concerned for how they felt. In breaking hard news to me, he has been gentle and careful to not damage my faith. In comforting my sister, he has been patient, kind and protective of her. In loving my mom he has been constant, strong and sure.

He has lived well. He will continue to love well.

As always, he is an example to me. No matter my stress level, busyness or chaos I can still live well. I can still have a generous spirit and a kind heart. I can still see the needs of others even though my own needs are huge. I can still care for people when I need to be cared for. And I can smile in the face of uncertainty. I can because he does. I can because he has taught me with his actions more than his words.

I can because I am my father's daughter.

“Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, leave the rest to God.”

~Ronald Reagan