I must be at that age, my early 40’s, where we begin to watch our parents’ health fail. Recently several friends have lost a parent or a parent has been diagnosed with something terminal. It is heartbreaking.
In August 2012, my own father was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was a very scary time for us as he underwent surgery to remove part of his lung. We are fortunate as he survived and continues to thrive. But I am also realistic. Each day I get to spend with him is a gift.
In those weeks before, during and after the surgery, I thought about many things. I saw both my parents as human beings, maybe for the first time, not just my parents. And in that moment I saw their frailty, their fears, and their courage. It became easier to understand that they were doing the best they could every day. It became easier to forgive them and let go of any baggage that I may have been carrying.
In the long hours at the hospital as I watched my father deal with the pain in the aftermath, I saw a side of my father I had not seen before. He was the strong, silent type if there ever was one. He endured. He had a long military career and grew up in that tough exterior environment. Here, in this moment, he was vulnerable. It was humbling.
During these months, as I came to terms with what was happening, I considered what my father meant to me and what I learned from him. What came to me was loyalty and hard-working.
You see, my father is a very loyal man. I remember questioning it when I was younger. He stayed in situations, I would have left. He didn’t have the best childhood. He left home at a young age and worked to send money home to help his family. And he has remained forgiving and loyal to his family since he was young, when most others would have walked away.
Like many men of his generation the military was a smart career choice – it provided a good wage, job security, and opportunity. He didn’t graduate high school but was a smart man (and years later he would go back to school to get his GED). He worked hard. He still works hard. After 35 years of service in the military he retired for one year before going back to work. He has since worked another 25 years. After his surgery and recovery, he wanted to get back to work. I was shocked but it is his community, it keeps him active and engaged. At 76, he continues to work and be active. I hope that it helps him have a better quality of life.
As I think of the lessons that I have learned from him and his life, I am filled with love and gratitude.
Glenda is a healer, coach, and teacher as a doula, educator, reiki practitioner, dance facilitator, kundalini yogi, and earth-medicine creator. She facilitates a new group called Awe-Inspiring Women, a community based on respect, support, education and, occasionally provoking a conversation, so that we can take responsibility for the world we've created and encourage a better world.