"Confirm Reality: Act like you matter." SG, 2007This came to me like most thoughts do. (In the shower)
While it doesn't seem to have the same significance in print now that I'm looking at it, it still has a lot of meaning to me...
It’s my Dad’s 64th Birthday! Understandably, we’re not going to have a big old party. But at least Auntie Laurie and Uncle Jim were able to go in and see him for the first time since he arrived. And he was also able to eat some of the ‘special’ Chinese food I brought him. I tell you, he’s almost as rabid about Chinese as his dad was.
I went to the Aldergrove Church with the intention of giving Pastor Dave an update so that he could share it with the congregation. But of course, I slept in and didn’t get around to leaving until I was late for the second service. The praise service was already under way when I arrived. Bill Gerber met me when I came in, and the good man was kind enough to sneak up front to tell the pastor that I was there and had a bit to share with him, if possible. But the pastor just nodded and didn’t move. Bill came back around to where I was, and the only warning I got was when he said, “Uh oh. He didn’t even follow me. Be ready to go up front, ‘cause he does that sort of thing.”
Sure enough, the Pastor announced my Dad’s condition, then called me out onto the carpet to provide details. It was done very nicely, and I could see that many of the members were visibly concerned about him. A special prayer was held, and then I got the opportunity to do what my Dad had asked me to do. “Give everybody a hug from me who wants one,” he said. When I announced that this is what he’d asked me to do and that I’d be in the foyer after the service to ‘deliver’ to all takers, the congregation brought the house down with instantaneous and thunderous applause.
I don’t know how many hugs I handed out, or even most of the names of those who lined up for their ‘turn’. I do know that I stopped counting at about 28 and that there were numerous people after that. Throughout, I had a strong sense of support from everyone collectively and individually that really touched me and lifted my spirits. I so much wish that my dad could have been there to receive it all first-hand, because he was still in a lot of pain, scared about the unknown, and not comfortable with the idea of visitors seeing him in his current condition. Instead, he had to settle for my verbal account of the whole experience, which I tried in vain to do justice. It was a rare ‘major’ day surrounded and cramped in by a host of ‘minors.’
Tuesday, February 6: Not the sort of day that one forgets on account of it being so ‘routine’ that it’s indistinguishable from most others. The day before, the decision was reached to not wait until the weekend to travel to Canada to be with my parents. I’d managed to notify all (or most) work related people… and then procrastinated from finalizing the packing process, so any hopes of getting an early start went far from being realized.
The AM hours were spent applying for Passports for the youngest 4 kids for future travel, and taking Txee to yet another CT scan to see what was going on with the cancer throughout her body. With all of the appointments and procedures I’d accompanied her to over the previous 2 years, you’d think that this would be a pretty standard event. But on this day, I felt rather uneasy. She had been experiencing worsening health, with increasing complaints of headaches and hip pain as well as a return of ulceration at the cancer’s site of origin. This caused significant worry with some of her kids, so the “normal” levels of volatility at home were enhanced, to say the least.
When the CT was completed and some random clothing items had been assembled together, it was with considerable relief that I faced the prospect of an open road and 17 hours of travel time ahead of me. I was too cheap to fly, but this gave me some time to put the stressors of home life behind me (or at least store them for later retrieval) so that I could steel myself for the new challenges of being a support for my mom and dad. It was also a time of a huge inner struggle that I don’t think I’ll ever have the ability to even attempt to explain.
The most re-played thoughts in my head on that trip were ones of irony: How is it that I, of all people, had the misfortune of having to leave one stressful living environment with a gravely ill person to go to ANOTHER stressful environment with another gravely ill person?! How does one justify robbing Peter to pay Paul, since I was needed in both places? And how do people cope with this sort of stuff, anyway?
I’ve long concluded that the ‘experts’ out there have no real solutions to offer, and there were no lightening bolt answers from above, either. But the solitude allowed me to prepare and conclude how I would attempt approach this and other similar challenging situations. It was a long drive, and even if no one else who knows me ever notices the difference, the person who arrived in Vancouver the next day is not the one who left Fresno.