Coping without dad

As a single mother, when it comes to tasks like collecting furniture or fixing stuff, dad’s the man.  However his strange symptoms of late now preclude him from helping me in this way.  This vibrant, once physically capable man is now  unable to get out of a chair without almost falling over.  He’s unable to walk in a straight line.  He’s unable to drive because it summons all the strength he has to tell his brain to go straight when it wants him to veer off to one side.

The strain of not knowing what’s wrong is showing.  He’s so quiet when once he was the joker.  I can see the worry etched on his face.  I can hear it in his voice.  And there’s now the tears from mum when he’s out of the room.  Tears I save for when neither are around.  Like now.  His appointment with the consultant is on Thursday.  It can’t come soon enough.

For me it’s a double whammy.  I’ve realised I’ve taken so much for granted with him, thinking that he’ll always be there to help.  It’s a timely reminder that I need to think about friends locally who might be able to help more with this sort of thing.  As dad is retired and on hand always to help, up until now I’ve been able to make arrangements last minute (like collecting the wardrobe I won on ebay tomorrow night as a whim, or collecting my daughter from nursery when I’m stuck on a delayed train).  I need to get into the mind set of planning a bit more ahead and accepting a new reliance on others. 

It’s also the realisation that if this isn’t just a simple ear infection but something more serious, this is potentially the start of a rough ride for us all.  It’s hard not to think worst case scenario given his youngest brother died suddenly of a brain tumour and his other brother is now so ill with Parkinson’s disease he has to crawl on the floor to get to the front door to answer it if his wife is out. 

It reminds me just how awful and debilitating those stresses in our life are that we have no control over.  I understand all the psychology (it’s not events that stress us but our reaction to them, we can control how we react to situations etc).  But I defy anyone not to have a similar reaction when a close relative, particularly a parent, sibling or partner, falls suddenly and quite badly ill. 

I’m a daddy’s girl.  Always have been, always will.  That man is my rock.  My objective voice of reason.  My wise counsel.  He’s rarely wrong about ‘life stuff’.  We only ever argue when he’s stating a truth that I don’t want or am not ready to hear.  His experience, his pragmatism, his damn knowing, is my oxygen when I’m under strain. 

I love him so much and have much to thank him for in my life.  He’s the one whose eyes I want to connect with when certain pieces of music are playing.  There’s a knowing that only he would understand because it was he who gave the gift of the love of Oscar Peterson and other jazz artists to me.  There’s films I don’t find funny but will watch with dad because watching him laugh so much is such fun. 

I’m still amazed that he can laugh at The Blues Brothers like it’s the first time he’s watched it given I’ve lost count the numbers of times it’s been viewed by us.  And I forgive him now for every time he’s mortified me on the dance floor at the annual black tie do we go to by suddenly stopping his dancing arm in arm with me and breaking into a demented tap dance just to get laugh.

I’m not religious.  I don’t believe in God and I’m deeply sceptical of organised religions.  I suppose I’m an atheist buddhist (of the Stephen Batchlor variety – his book Buddhism Without Beliefs I cannot recommend highly enough).  But you know, right now I’m praying to whoever will listen that they’ll fix my wonderful dad.  Please let him have many more healthy years to enjoy with us. 

This is completely contrary to the buddhist views that I try and live my life by.  Such as understanding that nothing is permanent.  Such as accepting suffering and letting go of craving.  However I know enlightenment is a journey not a destination.  I also know it’s bloody hard path to take.  Yet certainly an easier path than the alternative spiral of never ending suffering that may reign.

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