Instead of walking into the city square yesterday I drove to a hospital to sit with my dear Dad. I had taken my Buddhas in my Pocket knowing that hospitals are places where suffering walks the corridors, hovers in the corners of the lifts, accompanies visitors to the consulting rooms.
Dad sat resting in his bedside chair, eyes closed.
Eyes that 3 weeks ago, in an instant, gave up any effort to see.
He can no longer read his novels or peruse the football news at the back of the paper.
Not much surpasses Dad’s love of reading-perhaps just his love of Mum, his family and his footy team.
“How are they treating you, Dad?”
“Fabulous love, I’d give the nurses 12 out of 10. They are amazing.”
This is the legacy my father leaves wherever he goes – his unending ability to see the good in people, in situations. I have always found it a joy to see how his delight of others and natural ability to be in the moment infuses any situation he is in. Even this one. The nurses already delight in him and take great care of him.
We talk about future plans to get him access to talking books and discuss listening to the football instead of watching it.
I ask him how he feels about losing his sight.
He raises his eyebrows and half grins.
“Shit happens love. I’m still breathing. ”
And we laugh an enveloping laugh together. This momentarily eases the heart ache in my chest which is mostly apparent when I am still enough and alone.
I veer between engaging in sensible, practical exploring of care options and just wanting to scoop him up, cancel my life plans and look after him and Mum. I know this is a journey I show with millions of other people. They have already been there or have it yet to come.The outcome will reveal itself over time.
The unconditional love my parents have given our family is a most precious gift. I want to return it in any way I can.
Offering up my bag of Buddhas, Dad chooses one to keep him company. His hands fall on the the largest of the ten, as he can just make out its form.
The small hand raised on the Buddha he chooses represents fearlessness.
This is a quality we will all need over the next few days as we discuss the possibility of Dad going into a care home at least for a while to learn how to manage his blindness. This would mean their first significant time apart in 60 years.
Every time I visit him or ring the hospital, his first questions are about how Mum is coping. They met at Primary school and married at 18. He has spent his life making sure she is okay. I reassure him we are looking after her and he relaxes noticeably.
So I left Dad that day, with Amogasiddhi the Buddha of fearlessness sitting quietly by his bedside knowing in many ways I would need to develop that quality far more than my father.
Buddha a gift from Verity UK.