I’m writing on the back of the recent Father’s Day weekend, coming away absolutely stoked.
This story is written, not to elicit a thought that maybe Stephen is a nice son, but rather that you would consider identifying and collecting the gems inherent in the text and actively join me in a journey of extravagant love and caring relationships to do even greater things.
Wear the gems with me in humble pride to love our fellow man into their freedom and liberty.
You may well think that I had been totally blessed by my children for Father’s Day.
Not so. With three surviving sons out of four, the youngest now 19, they simply don’t do Dad. Story. I did get a message from my eldest son wishing me a happy Father’s Day. That’s appreciated and is as good as it gets . . . . currently. I continue to hope and pursue change.
I’m actually stoked by how my Dad was blessed on Father’s Day and I’m still in heaven over it.
You see, this year, 2016, has been really tough on Mum and Dad to date. Please engage me as I add colour to the background canvas to explain.
It started when in January, Mum had a car accident which wrote the car off. The accelerator pedal had dislodged somehow as Mum was leaving a road-side parking spot. She pumped the pedal. Nothing.
Suddenly the car launched at full throttle across the road between two parked cars, narrowly missing both, into a telegraph pole.
Airbags deployed, Mum’s face was saved from serious injury but she had multiple fractures in hand and leg from hitting the dashboard.
Incredibly, no one else was harmed or inconvenienced. Well, accept Dad.
His wife of 58 years was in hospital and rehab for 6 weeks and he was without a car. He had to relearn a lot.
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
A decision was made that the car was not to be replaced. With both parents balanced either side of an 80 year old fulcrum, Dad was, up to that time, only allowed to drive locally with Mum playing navigator on high alert.
Dad’s favourite past-time was fishing the local river apart from being disappointed by his preferred NRL team, Parramatta Eels. The newspaper, home chores and being Mum’s ‘taxi’ driver with them both requiring ongoing medical attention, filled all but eating and sleeping in a day.
Fishing had stopped abruptly, his equipment tucked in a corner in the garage.
You know, he never complained.
The next few months were challenging with the work-around without a car and increased medical visits.
Late July, Dad had a scare. Actually, Mum was more scared. It was like he had a stroke at home. An ambulance was called and off to hospital he went.
Tests revealed a 12mm stone in his bial duct blocking waste from the liver and gall bladder. He was rushed to another hospital for specialist surgery to blast the stone.
Blasting failed. A stent was placed beside the stone to drain waste but the stent didn’t hold. It had dislodged days later. Dad was too old for removing the stone.
Family were called in to be informed of the situation. Dad was given a week to live, made comfortable with pain killers.
We were in shock. We rallied together, putting aside our emotions to best serve Dad and Mum in his remaining days. Mum found it particularly hard though she put on a brave front.
Though medical staff know best, I had been taught that words have power.
The children’s saying that , “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me.” is both true and not true. It is true if I reject the words for a stronger belief that resides in my heart/unconscious mind about me or whatever the matter. But if I have no stronger belief within me, the words will drive piercing damage to my soul.
So we thanked the specialist medical team for their skill and care of Dad but rejected their death proposal time-line. We chose to believe that Dad would live and “go home” when God had completed his days, establishing before there was yet one of them. (Psalms 139:16)
As the week expired, my Pastor decided to visit from out of region to pray for Dad for 7 consecutive days. Incredible, how my Pastor was moved.
Dad survived the week.
Being optimistic, I chose to treat Dad as though he was healing. I was curious in the precipice of his health and ability. Staying with Mum that week, I would daily read him what was happening with his footy team and seek to encourage mobility of any sort.
From laying flat to sitting up, to sitting in a chair, to standing exercises, to walking aided to the toilet, Dad picked up daily. Amazing.
During the next week, the doctors, scratching their head thought Dad was on his final peak before diving fast. Tests revealed a large absis, the build up of the waste pressing against his liver. He was kindly allowed to stay in hospital, the doctors thinking Dad wouldn’t last long, instead of transferring him to palliative care.
Dad’s health stabilized and by the third week following surgery he was transferred to a nursing home to, in the doctors minds, finish his days.
For the first few days in nursing, Dad stayed in bed unless aided by staff for hygiene.
I encouraged Dad not to think life as limited to the bed he was in. He was to use the chair even if with staff help.
I had stayed with Mum only one week. My visits were twice weekly at this point from home. Each visit, Dad was encouraged to think of the next frontier of progress. He went from chair in room to chair in lounge area aided, to being unaided with a walker. He had freedom. Yes!
Visits declined to weekly as Dad continued to improve.
The next big step was to have Dad thinking about going for a drive. This was a huge step. He hadn’t been in a car for 5 weeks.
We went slowly and simply. Small steps.
Where, since surrendering having a car due to the accident, Dad had been relegated to back seat whenever they went out in a car, again without complaining, as Mum had hip complexities, Dad was positioned front passenger. I could tell he relished that.
“So, where to, Dad?”
With a shrug of his shoulders, I knew. The River.
With Mum in the back seat and two walkers sandwiched in the boot, we took a casual route soaking in both sides of the River. A stop for an ice cream was the cherry on the cake that day.
Back at the nursing home after dropping Dad off seated for dinner, I receive a smile and two thumbs up from Dad. He couldn’t have said it better.
That got me thinking. If Dad continues to improve, I’m going to aim at getting him fishing again.
I didn’t tell anyone, but the following week I took Mum and Dad out along the river to some of Dad’s fishing spots.
As we parked along side one spot, Dad started getting out of the car. Mum went ballistic telling him to get back in the car. He hadn’t even got fully out of the car.
I eased Mum’s anxiety and explained what might be possible with extreme care.
Dad was happy for me to walk him down to the jetty with his walker and me holding him.
It was magic to see Dad standing on the jetty and be still, turning his senses to “MAX”, absorbing the view, the sounds, the smells, the energy, the freedom, all against a warming sunset.
Mum’s not silly. She got a whiff of my intention. A list of instructions followed but it was on. Yes!
My gift to Dad on Father’s Day was to take him fishing.
On my next visit I brought a PFD and strong waist belt for Dad to try on. I had printed off the local tide chart for him to study. Father’s Day was hi-lighted.
One week out from Father’s Day, another drive along the River was to a spot where Mum could sit on a BBQ setting only a few metres away from a jetty. It had a gently sloped path to both. It would be the perfect spot to fish from. Dad was happy to get out of the car and check it out. No words meant it was on.
Preparations for fishing Father’s Day had to be checked and double-checked. Nothing was to be over-looked. This had to go right, for both Mum and Dad.
And that it did.
There as one snag. Despite my thorough preparation, visualizing every step accounted for, I had lost my phone the day before and had nothing to take pictures.
What I could not account for, my totally loving God filled in the gaps as I had put in my simple order for “a super-blessed Dad on Father’s Day”. The weather ordered for the day was picture perfect and a family sitting nearby happily obliged my request for a snap shot. (The lady acted like a professional with her mobile phone taking pictures from angles I had not thought. Thank you so much.)
Mum was very happy to see us all geared up sitting well back from the edge as she glanced occasionally above her glasses from a book she had settled in to.
We thought we had caught nothing but sunshine. But as we were packing the car, an elderly couple passed by noticing the packed car of parents and walkers. The gentleman offered assistance to prepare the fishing rods for returning next time. He explained he was a retired professional fisherman from all around Australia and knew the River like the back of his hand.
Both he and his wife continued with loving invitation that included a chat with my parents already seated in the car and a personal invite to their river-side home to rest and take in the serene ambiance on a future occasion.
Mum had booked lunch at a restaurant in case it rained. That was not wasted to embellish the day for Dad.
Back at the nursing home, Dad, a bit of a girl’s boy, was inviting all the staff to gather around him as he was lavished gifts from Mum.
We relaxed into afternoon tea, a cuppa, fruit cake and ‘in-flight’ plain biscuits, as we reflected on a most wonderful day.
If it is possible to provide adequate words to express my feeling of being immersed in blessing that day, I would. I am simply humbled and in joyful tears, “custard” I’ve heard said.
I could not have dreamed of a more blessed Father’s Day for myself than what I experienced with Dad.
I love you Dad.
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)