I didn't know it at the time but on February 20th, 2003 - I would hear news that would forever change my life. It was an honor actually, but when I was hearing it, I felt it was anything but an honor.
I was with my Dad at the hospital when the cardiologist came in to see him that morning. I knew my time with my Dad was limited, but what I was about to hear pierced through my heart like a dagger.
"John, if there is anything you want to do, do it now." I looked at the doctor and simply uttered "excuse me?"
The doctor went on to explain that my Dad's heart was only functioning at 13% or so and that it would not last more than 6 months at the very most. He told my Dad to do what he wanted to do, have what he wanted to have and take this time to get things in order. My body was numb, my heart was in shock. I remember wanting to cry out that 35 years is not enough time to spend with him. I had leaned up against the wall, to steady myself and the doctor asked me to step outside. He informed me that with my Dad's diabetes, that the sore on his foot would not heal and would contribute to his death as well - painfully so. He assured me that when the time come, he would call hospice in and make "it" as painless as possible. My heart agonized over the fact that I would not be able to stop this, that I would not be able to stop the pain and I would have to spend each and every moment with him that I could.
The doctor asked me if I was OK, and I simply nodded. We went back inside the room and he informed us that he'd be in there another day. The doctor left, I sat on the edge of the bed, wondering what was running through my Dad's heart. As I sat there, numb, my Dad spoke...asking me "Well, Daughter.....what do you think?" I immediately looked at him, eyeball to eyeball. Here I was wondering about him...and HE was wondering about me. Unbelievable. I kept looking at him and said "I think I'm going to miss you soooooo much." I sat quietly on the bed with him for a little bit. Gently crying because I didn't want to upset him to much, but there was no way I could hold in the tears.
Again, at the time, I didn't consider being with him to receive that kind of news an honor, but now I know beyond doubt that it was a priceless gift that I would not trade for the world.
Not everyone gets a six month warning to get their affairs straight, do what they want to do, see whom they want to see and so on. But he almost did. I had the difficult task to start making the calls. To tell my sister and brothers and step mom what I had just found out. I wanted anyone that wanted to see him, hug him and tell him just how special he was to have the chance to do so and time was of the essence.
As Dad got weaker, I moved in to help take care of him. I organized my work schedule to where I would work in the late afternoons or at night and help Angie take care of him during the day. I slept when he did and enjoyed many midnight egg sandwiches with him. It never bothered me that he could only eat a bite of the sandwich.
You may wonder why I'm sharing this with you. My Dad didn't get the full six months. He died on July 20th, 2003. We made sure that he laughed every chance he could and sometimes he simply laughed because he caught me and Angie "discussing things" between "ourselves" and we had NO clue he was awake. We made sure that anyone that wanted to see him had the chance and we all had time with him to tell him just how much he meant to us. I asked several times if there was anything he wanted and no matter what it was, I'd make sure he had it. Even though he was at the point nothing much would stay down when it came to food.
If you found out that you only had six months, what would you do? Who would you see? What calls would you make?
My next question is WHY would you wait until you only have six months? Start doing what you want to do. You have life dreams! Start on them. No matter how slowly you think you may be accomplishing them, start on them NOW. One of my dreams is to visit all 50 states. When we look at vacations, we look at a state we have not been to. Make the list and start chipping away at it. One of my dreams is to publish a book. In all of the spare time that I do not have, I'm slooooooowly chipping away at it. Work on those dreams NOW.
Schedule a visit with those that you have not seen and make those calls. We live in a period where it's easier now than ever to keep up with people we adore. Send the email, send the ecard or send the paper card. Tell those that are special to you just how special they are. Don't wait until you find out that you don't have much time left.
Do it now.
Six months is not long. Before we know it Christmas will be here again and it's only February.
Work towards your dreams
Plan the visit
Make the call
Give the hugs freely
Say I love you. Say it again. Say it once more.
Do it now, don't wait.
Tell me, what are some of your dreams you are working on.
Did you make the phone call, plan the visit or give the extra hugs? I hope so, I truly do!
Photo: June 11, 2003 one of the last few photos of me and my dad