Another Life Lesson
“The best protection any woman can have…courage.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton
“We don’t want to put bubble wrap around him.”
Why not? It’s my job to protect him, as he did for me when I was a child. I wanted to say this, but she continued with her probing questions. I had taken my father to his yearly appointment with his cardiologist. We were in her office.
She asked him a number of questions about his lifestyle, what he’d been doing, and how he was feeling. “Oh, I feel pretty good,” he said.
My father never complains and because his memory is fading, he doesn’t remember his recent hospital stay for angina, or his need to go up and down the stairs to lug his vacuum cleaner, or that he insists on shovelling snow even though we have someone who does this for him.
I filled in the blanks and gave her the details. “I remind him that he doesn’t have to do these things, but he does them anyway.”
“Do you feel out of breath when you shovel the snow?” she asked. “Do you have any pain in your chest when you climb back up the steps?”
“No, I relax when I need to,” my father replied. “Then I start again.”
“I’m afraid he’ll go outside and forget his jacket and collapse in the snow or he might fall down the stairs or …”
“You don’t want to shrink his life,” the cardiologist said.
I’m reminded of how protected I was as a child, how I fought against that stifling we don’t want anything bad to happen cage of love and concern. I tell myself to relax. And, those of you who know me know what a feat this is. It takes a great deal of courage to let go. I haven’t mastered it, but I’m trying to let him live whatever he has left of his life. I know it’s the right thing to do, but a daughter never stops being a daughter. As I think this, I’m reminded of what my mother used to say; a parent never stops being a parent.
How is it that I’m still relearning these life lessons?
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