My father has been in and out of the hospital twice in the past 30 days. First for extreme pulmonary edema (from the bottom of his feet to his armpits), the second time because the swelling was coming back and he caught it before it got that bad again. My youngest sister lives with my father and my step-mother (she's been my step-mother since I was 2) and she was pretty hysterical because he had lost 41 pounds and had become so frail that she thought he would not live until Christmas. So, my next to the youngest sister bought herself and I a ticket to Pahrump, NV to see our father before he dies...
The first thing we noticed was his thinness and frailty. He is down 45 pounds, to 166. He is gray. He looks weary. He has to have oxygen when he sleeps. But by the time we left, his physical frailty had paled in my mind compared to his emotional/spiritual frailty.
My father didn't live with me when I was growing up, therefore I tended to idolize him. It was quite a shock to me to find out he is just a human being (which I figured out after I moved in with he and his wife when I was 13). But still and all, he is my Daddy. Almost always patient. Always strong. Always almost an optimist.
Now? Now he is a cynical, almost bitter man railing against the evils of the world, stating that the earth would be better off if humans had never been created. It is downright scary to watch and listen to. And it gave me more cause to worry about him dying than any of the physical issues he is having.
Physically, I think he's going to make it. He has a good physical therapist from Gentiva. He has a nurse checking on him. And mom is one of the best cooks on the planet. So his physical needs are going to be met, and he will grow physically stronger each day.
However, we all know that the physical is only half the battle, and I fear he will lose the battle on the spiritual end of the spectrum.
Dad and mom moved to Pahrump, NV when they retired. It's a little Podunk town in Nevada, about a 90 minute drive West and North of Nevada. It's inhabitants are anti-government and pro-guns. It's not where I would EVER have pictured them, and they hate it there. Which they discovered too late to save themselves from it. I wish that there was a way for them to move away from there, to move closer to friends and family, but, alas, none of the family has the means to do that for them, and they are unable at this time, so they are stuck there.
When I got home, I sat down to write my father a letter. I made sure he know how much he means to me, and how much I enjoyed seeing him. But then I expressed my concern for his spiritual depression/bitterness. I told him "You have allowed this place to poison your heart/mind with bitterness. Not just you, by the way, all of you have done this. Pahrump may be a cesspool to live in, but you are better than this. You are stronger than this. Don’t let this piddly-assed little town drive you to anger and bitterness!!!"
And I told him that the world isn’t necessarily getting worse than it was. The difference is MEDIA. Because of the media we now know all the bad things that people do in all kinds of various places. Before, we could only know what was going on in our own neighborhoods and towns and perhaps on a state level with occasional forays into national. If we sought out information, we could find world news also. But it wasn’t dumped on us non-stop. Now it is.
I told him to turn off the news. Find good news things to read, and to trust me that they are out there...inspiring things, selfless things that people do every day. To read good books. To listen to upbeat music. To stop letting the poison eat him away.Then I shared my vision with him. And I added:
Dad, people are just people; broken, hurt people running around in life doing the best they can with what they have. Every person wants the same things, love and happiness. Sometimes they get the “how” wrong and end up greedy instead of seeking love & happiness. But underneath it all is a broken human being, desperately trying to make their life work.
This is what we are here for. Learning how life works. Learning to come through the trials and tribulations without breaking…without turning cold, cynical and bitter. This is where forgiveness of the humanness of others comes into play.
I am worried about you becoming so cold-hearted and cynical that you push all the people who love you away from you. I’ve seen this in others. I was heading that way myself, but my vision helped me, and focusing on finding good and seeking joy has pulled me out of the cynical pit in which I was drowning.
I love you dad. I love your humor, your way with people, your love for your troops. Think of the world as just one big troop, dad. And learn to love them all in spite of themselves. It will revolutionize your life, I promise you this."
I hope he listens and changes his course or I fear the bitterness will kill him where the COPD, Emphysema and Pulmonary Edema could not.