This is my 88 year old dad, enjoying a Sunday family dinner in August of this year. Fast forward to the present, my dad has been hospitalized for over two weeks, fighting the nasty coronavirus. I’m glad to report that he is finally stable, but boy, it was touch and go for awhile and it has completely wiped him out. For someone who was driving and walking a couple of miles per day, he now needs help standing up and can only take a few steps. That’s OK. He is still with us and he has the iron-clad will to get stronger one day at a time.
If you follow my blog, you have heard plenty about my mother, Ginger, and how she has greatly influenced my style, amongst other things of course. But my father has been an equally strong influence in a very different way…if I had to put in in one word: positivity. Always, always – regardless of how grim a situation is – he looks on the bright side. He has never been a worrier or averse to risk, but instead, someone who accepts challenges and does what is necessary to get through them.
When you are a teen or in your twenties, every little problem can seem like the end of the world, as they often did to me…my dad would sit patiently with me, listen to my tearful woes, and assure me that they were not forever…in his words: “Life is not a straight line for anyone, life is hills and valleys…you are in a valley now, but soon you will be going back up the hill.” Just last week as I was FaceTiming with him from his hospital bed I reminded him of this message: “Dad, remember you used to tell me about hills and valleys?”, I yelled at the top of my lungs because he’s hard of hearing….”Of course I do!”, he replied. “Well, you’re in a valley now.” I said, to which he replied, “Let’s hope I can make it back up the hill.” Oh, yes, you will! 🙂
While the ‘hills and valleys’ metaphor is a good one, my dad’s ‘sandcastle story’ is probably his favorite…
Two young children were on the beach, digging in the wet sand by the ocean, together building a sandcastle…they worked hard with their pails and shovels and after spending hours on it they had an expansive sandcastle with moats, walls, bridges, and stairs! It was beautiful and they were so proud of what they made…all of a sudden, with the changing tide, a large wave crashed on the beach and in seconds, the sandcastle was washed away. (Now we get to the part that my dad loves to tell…) They did not cry. They looked at each other, held hands, walked further up the beach, and started to build another one.
There are probably many different interpretations of this, but I see it as accepting that life will knock you down and life will present us all with unpleasant surprises. But when you are with someone that you care about, and when you keep a positive outlook, that’s all that really matters.
My father will not be home for Christmas this year and I – along with everyone in my family – will miss him very much. He is always a fun participant in the day, playing with the great-grand-kids, dancing with me, and doing his annual ‘Christmas Quiz’…it definitely won’t be the same without ‘Beepa’. But – like my dad, I will look at this from the bright side: he is still with us, he has made it through the worst days in the hospital, and soon we will all be together again. It won’t be easy getting back ‘up that hill’, but he’s got a devoted family and a positive attitude as strong as anyone I’ve ever known. That’s a damn good start. Hoping for better days ahead…
Warm holiday wishes to all.
Stay well. Dress well. Enjoy the NOW.