My B+ Attempts at Being All That

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Father’s Day, Ice Buckets, and Prime Rib

on June 17, 2017

I’m not done yet! 

When playing Rummikub with my dad a while back, Lydia freaked out a bit (which to normal people looks like a lot) when he tried to hurry her turn, and she screeched, “I’m not done yet.” Dad, in true nurturing grandfather fashion, mocked her incessantly with “I’m not done yet!” He loved in a way that was more than love; he loved in a way that spoke to her and her snarky self. We still say it when the opportunity arises. It keeps my dad’s voice in our heads, helps us remember. Because quite frankly, I wasn’t done yet. I wasn’t done with my parents. I wasn’t done with that sarcasm, that leveling voice on the other end of the phone when I just needed my dad to listen. I wasn’t done with him. Not yet. 
Grey’s Anatomy junkie? Dr. House follower? Like a good medical mystery? Check out ALS. It has the medical community scratching heads, unable to nail down causes, treatments, or cures. It does not discriminate based on age, race, or gender. It is equally unkind to all if visits. Correction: haunts.

 

The Ice Bucket Challenge increased donations toward ALS research, care and education. Of the roughly $115 raised, 67% went to research; 20% went to patient and community services; 9% went to public and professional education; 2% went to fundraising; 2% went to external processing fees. Social Media is an overwhelmingly amazing tool when used for good. And this is good. There is currently no cure and no treatment for ALS. There is only monitoring and products to help as the body slowly betrays itself and shuts down due to the complete malfunction of the delivery service from the brain to the body, all while the brain is fully aware of everything that is happening. Frustrating at best; physically and emotionally devastating at worst.

 

Aides are kind; nurses gently suggest items that will help make the decline less defeating and humiliating; Hospice provides “whatever is needed to be comfortable.” Items that have been donated (because, quite frankly, they are often not used for long since the disease works its devastation so quickly) are offered as they come available with the depressing understanding that the blessing of a lift chair is made possible because the last guy didn’t need it long. And that same chair will depressingly bless someone else soon. Blessings through raindrops, as that donation means another family will soon be grieving the loss of a loved one.

 

This disease is a thief of mobility, of self-sufficiency, of dignity. It takes much more than it gives, as very few “at least there’s . . .” statements can be made in the heart of the battle. It robs families of mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, children. It steals joy. It took my dad.

 

With tears, though, I will treasure the time I was able to spend with him while he succumbed. I will remember fondly the joy in a simple wheelchair jaunt through the neighborhood or in that perfect bite of prime rib with a side of prime rib (his favorite). And one thing this disease did give our family was time. Time to say goodbyes and to express how we feel. Time to say the things that often go implied in a family that communicates primarily through sarcasm and snarky comments. This disease encouraged poignancy and love.

 

But it doesn’t change the fact that I miss my dad. My dad, who taught me how to water ski, add decimals and drive a stick shift. My dad, who cared for and buried a wife who “didn’t deserve it.” My dad, who became one of my very best friends after my best friend of a mom died. My dad, who cared about my opinions when he was dating as an adult. My dad, who celebrated my wedding with my friends and who was one of the most fun ones there. My dad, who was a moral support during lonely moments of motherhood of toddlers without a friend base. My dad, who walked with me through layoffs and other financial struggles. My dad, who, through a second marriage after mom died, opened us up to a second family. My dad, who loved my cooking and my kids in a way that they understood, even though it was often through goofy comments, fart jokes and compliments veiled in sarcasm. My dad, who could fix just about anything and would teach me without being condescending. My dad, who was proud of me when I wasn’t. My dad, who was an awesome dad. I miss him terribly.

 

So, if a gimmicky sort of thing like the Ice Bucket Challenge surfaces again, please remember the faces of this awful disease when thinking of how cute you can make the post. Remember those affected when you consider whether or not you will donate or look for a reason not to. Remember that without funds to do research, no progress will be made on this terribly cruel disease. But most of all, if a family you know is being affected by this disease, remember that they may not know what will be helpful but that something probably will be. Remember to offer help. Remember that sometimes, that help may not come in the form of money or stuff but in actions and words. And that sometimes, just showing up without waiting to be asked is the most helpful. Remember that prayers and words of encouragement can go a long way and will keep the door open for when they are ready to ask for that food or errand or other seemingly random favor. And remember that it hurts but that the sun will still rise tomorrow, giving us another day to do something good. Remember to do good.

 

And Happy Father’s Day.

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