I am sure you have.
Several years ago I watched my dad.
It was not easy and I was poorly equipped to do it.
Let me describe him in a few words [a few words do not do him justice but this is a blog]. He was a strong man all his life. He was active, a doer. He built things with his hands and grew things. He was not much of a talker, preferring to let his actions do the talking.
He loved me.
It was interesting the way I figured this out because he never told me to my face he loved me. I could hear it in his voice as he introduced me to people I had never met before. He was proud of me.
In the beginning, it was not so. Dad [like many dads] wanted me to be like him but that was not to be. I did not like farm work, garden work or wood shop work. Dad was a farmer, an excellent gardener and knew his way around all types of tools. He was even an industrial arts teacher to veterans after WWII. He built our home and it is a nice ranch style home.
I liked school, I liked books and I liked being in the classroom.
Dad got to the point where he was ok with the person I had become and then it happened, a series of life-threatening occurrences.
And as we have been studying in AHA for 11 weeks, he did the opposite of the Prodigal Son in response to the occurrences. Instead of getting up, he sat down.
I don’t want you to think I am being too hard on him. There comes a time when all of us can’t bounce back from a physical challenge and then we descend toward our death. The human body is not made to last forever.
But Dad sat down.
As I said earlier, I was poorly equipped to handle this.
I cajoled him to get up and walk. When he got a Schwin Airdyne bike, I was encouraged, but it soon became a place to hang clothes. His main exercise was just watching tv.
Then his knees went.
Doctors said he was too old and too feeble of heart to operate.
Dad lived with daily pain.
His heart began to go down that slow congestive heart failure road as his lifestyle was so sedentary.
Then the Hoveround and the walker.
Dad had other changes that were more shocking: he started talking. He talked nonstop sometimes. This was a man who rarely said 5 or 6 sentences in a sitting and now he was talking nonstop.
Most of the talk was about The Cats, what he liked to eat, not sleeping and his knee pain. Some would say he was a bit egocentric.
I don’t want to say that.
I just think the rest of us did not know what to do with the New Dad.
My personal opinion is that when his body began to fail, he just did not know what to do with himself. Here was a man who was used to doing big, physical things and now he could do none of that.
The last year of his life he bought a trailer kit for a trailer to be pulled behind a pick-up truck. When it arrived I said to myself “how is he going to make this?”
My brother and I made it for him. I did the painting part. He could not do this work. It was something he could have easily done in the past, but not now.
Dad had given up.
I don’t want you to think I am being hard on him; I love him. In so many ways he is still with me. I do have regrets. I regret I was not able to listen to him better as he rambled.
However, I know he left me with some good lessons.
No matter what is happening to you, it is important to adapt to your life situation and not give into defeat. He could have found things to do with his last years on earth but he chose not to. It did not help him to live a happy life.
He was a good man. He was a good father. His miserable last years were so hard on him but I think they may just help me as I move forward in this life.
Do you have a plan against defeat?
It is hard to do and I may find it impossible. I may not have what it takes but the words of Robert Ingersoll inspire me:
“The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.”
Whatever the days bring:
“This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24