My father has taken a downward turn in his long and diligent fight against the Parkinson’s Disease that is destroying his body and mind. I had planned on coming up to NC next week to visit him, but when my sister called and explained to me what had happened with him, my husband and I decided it was better to come right away, just in case.
At the same time, my daughter is also battling maladies that are crimping her life and giving her a debt problem in spite of our insurance. I am stretched between these two people that I love. They both seem to have a great need of me right now.
But do they? Does my daughter really need “saving”? Is she in a life threatening situation? Yes, my father is, but it is one that is more or less known and there is a sense of inevitability about his predicament. His is one we will all face sooner or later. My daughter, on the other hand, in my opinion has subconsciously created her situation out of her inability to realize the reasons for her stress levels much less how to fix them. I feel she is using the only means she knows at the moment to try and exert some control over her life, of which, it seems, she feels she has none. I think she can fix her situation fairly easily if she will sit down with her beau and talk it over. I mean really talk and explore those sometimes sticky emotional places in a relationship that need attention, in spite of what one wants to think about one’s own capabilities.
And then there is my father. I look at him, at his blue, blue eyes looking back at me with love and need. With desire to connect. He is still here and I hate thinking about how frail he is, and how aware of that frailty he has now become. I see him accepting his fate. Realizing his body is failing him and there is nothing he can do about it. What good is it to look back on a life and say it was a good one when you aren’t ready to give it up? When something outside your mind is saying you have no choice in the matter? He said yesterday, "I just want one more plug and I don't think I'm going to get it." One more cast, one more fish. That's all he wants. My tears are ready, lurking in the back of my eyes waiting for release and I don’t want to allow them that right. I want to continue as I have in the past, knowing the end is coming but not yet, so I don’t have to think about it. I am comfortable with the numbness in which I can function, until I hold his taut, frail thin frame in my arms. I see his melancholy smile, I see the lack of fight in his eyes and part of me wants to anger him, bring back his fighting spirit while at the same time I want to cradle him in my arms and make everything all right for him again.
I need to let my daughter go. I need to watch her fly on her own wings and see her launch into her life and love and lessons. This is easy to do and yet so very hard as well. I love her so much it hurts sometimes. The loving her and the letting go of her both feel right and uplifting. She is beautiful and strong and yet has so much to learn about that strength and beauty and how to use and grow it in her future. How to learn to appreciate what she has and who she is: how to nurture others, to be a good person, to thrive and live her dreams.
I need to hang on to my father. I need it for myself and he needs it because he doesn’t want to be alone. He needs me and my sister and Clarence and my mother and all those who love him so he can walk this new road with the knowledge of, and trust in, our love for him.
I have been where my daughter is. I am going where my father has been. All I can do now is to try and let one go while hanging on to the other. I realize the question is not whether or not they need me. I think it is more a statement that I need them. I need them both and that I will eventually, when the time comes, let go of my numbness and honor my joy and my grief with those lurking tears.