Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gratitude and Memories

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. A day to be with family. Eat too much. A day to watch football. A day to be...thankful. And I am.

Tomorrow is something else for me.

Tomorrow will mark one year since I saw my Dad alive, conscious. The next time I would see him would be in February, after he had the stroke.

I wish I could tell you about the good time we had. But I can't. In fact, I kind of avoided him for most of the day. He was not in a good mood and sat on the couch trying to make anyone within a four foot radius of him as miserable as he was.

Give the guy a break. He'd been in pain for over a year from a broken leg that just wouldn't heal due to his diabetes. After his last stint in the hospital, they had given him the choice to spend some time in a nursing home so they could monitor his diet, administer antibiotics and give him physical therapy or lose his leg. He'd chosen the nursing home but he wasn't happy about it.

I should have been more understanding, but I wasn't. I wanted to have a good time, laugh, spend time with family. I didn't want to deal with his grumpiness and as many hours as I'd spent with him in the hospital over the course of the last year, as many times as I'd emptied his pee pot (yep, dutiful daughter award) and watched TBS movies...I didn't feel guilty about it.

Maybe now I do.

I could feel really, really guilty about it. As good as I am about focusing on negatives, beating myself up and occasionally swimming around in my own pity pool...I could feel terrible, revel in the regret and mourn those last, lost few hours.

But I'm not going to. Not because I don't wish I'd had more grace and spent more time with him that day, but because I know two things to be true.

My dad knew I loved him. (see above reference to pee pot!)
My dad loved me. unconditionally. It isn't easy. I know. My dad and I had a special relationship simply because we had a relationship. It took a lot of letting go of the past, forgiveness, and grace...on both sides. It took agreeing to disagree, declaring some topics taboo (i.e. my Mom), and accepting each other "warts and all"

Lesson...time is precious. Spend as much of it with family and friends as you can. How could I possibly have known that would be the last time I would see him? He actually looked better that day than he had in a while. Oddly enough, the day before his stroke, I'd thought to myself we needed to go see him before we got crazy busy with the shows we were doing. I am grateful I told him I loved him and gave him a big hug before we left him back at the nursing home.

Lesson...give yourself grace. You are not all knowing, all seeing, or perfect. You make mistakes. You get grumpy. You have bad days. You do things you wish you can undo (that bad tattoo maybe? not that I have one...too chicken) There is no way for me to jump into my DeLorean and fix this. The best thing I can do for myself and the memory of my Dad is to focus on the positives, the good times and the fact that we had said everything we needed to say to each other.

Tomorrow, as we laugh and talk and eat and eat and eat (my Uncle John is a stellar cook ya'll and to not overindulge a bit would not be true to the work he puts into the preparations of the meal...right?), my Dad's memory will be there. And I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful I am his daughter. I'm thankful for my family-especially my kids. I'm thankful to have a job at Wellspring Living. To have as many interesting and amazing friends as we do and for the opportunities to make more. I'm thankful for grace and redemption.

I'm thankful if this post makes you take a deep breath and give yourself permission to let something go so you can enjoy your day just a little more.

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