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Friday, 16 March 2012 10:50

Character Traits - from Dad

I've been a bit flaky with posting lately - between teaching piano, going to doctors appointments, trying to keep my house at least somewhat in order, look after my daughter and spend as much time as possible at the hospital with my Dad, I haven't had a lot of time to sit down at my computer...

Last week, the 'Toddle Along Tuesday' post was about traits you hoped your child did (or did not) inherit from you.  Since my Dad has been on my mind constantly lately, I started thinking about the traits I inherited from him.  I am proud of these things - even the ones that are not always flattering, and I hope that my daughter inherits them also...

1. Educating Yourself - Always. 

My Dad taught me to read when I was 3.  Really and truly, I could read full-length books before I entered kindergarten - there's a University study out there somewhere on me to prove it.   My Dad never attended post-secondary, but always voiced that he wished he could go back - as an adult, when he understood the importance of learning, and had developed a passion for learning that he lacked in his earlier years.  He was extremely self-educated, though.  Although he had mild dyslexia, and had trouble reading, I remember him reading constantly.  He learned how to build guitars and other musical instruments by reading books.  When he watched tv, he watched documentaries and how-to videos.  He spent all of his spare time learning.  Recently I've discovered the same desire in myself.  I've had to admit to myself that I rarely enjoy watching a movie - because it doesn't get anything accomplished.  I'd really rather do laundry, or do some writing, or play the piano - because these things are productive - than watch a movie.  Even when I'm watching a movie, I enjoy it much more if my hands are doing something at the same time... It's annoying for my movie-loving husband, but I'm ok with it.  It's a good trait, and when it comes to my children - the desire to learn and 'do' will always bring more success than sitting around and waiting for things to happen for them.

2. Attention to detail

This sort of goes along with the first one.  My Dad builds (or used to, anyway) musical instruments, which requires a lot of dexterity and patience.  My Dad is not the most graceful person, and he sometimes makes a lot of mistakes when he's building, but he will always go back and fix it. 

I remember my Dad learning specific songs on the guitar or banjo, and he would spend hours playing certain riffs over and over, making sure his fingers learned how to move exactly as they needed to. Sometimes I feel as though I could use more of this particular persistence to perfect things, but I also look back at things I have done - projects I have completed and songs I have learned - and realize there must be some of that in me after all.

3. Patience

This is also part of the first two... My Dad has an almost unending amount of patience.  Actually, I don't think I can recall a time when he really ran out of patience.  He had patience for himself when he was working on things, and he had patience with me when he taught me how to build with him, or when he was struggling through a particularly difficult book.  He didn't give up, for anything.

I hope I have inherited this also, although sometimes I don't think so...

4. Calm

I almost never remember my Dad yelling at me.  When he was angry with me, we would 'discuss' things.  He has a bizarre ability to remain calm in almost any situation.

I was in a car accident when I was a teenager, and my then-boyfriend voiced his disappointment later at how calm I seemed, when he was hoping to comfort me but I really didn't seem to need it.  Internally I was panicking, but I guess that didn't come across.  When I called my Dad later that day to inform him of what had happened, the tone of his voice didn't waver.  I heard a very calm and collected 'ok....ok....ok' as I explained to him that I was alright, but had been in an accident.  My Mom told me later that she could see the look in his eyes and knew something was very wrong - but he was able to keep it together for me. 

This has served me well over the years, as nothing can shake me.  Sometimes I almost wish I could lose it - throw a huge, angry fit just to let off steam - but I know too well that it wouldn't really make me feel better, and I'm just not that kind of person.

5. The ability to laugh at himself.

My Dad never failed to embarrass me in a public place.  Remember Mr.Bean? I hated that show.  I hated that show, because so many of those situations had happened to my Dad when I was with him, hoping that no one I knew would walk by and see us. We were entering (or exiting?) a parkade once, and he had gotten his ticket and the arm should have lifted to let him drive pass, but for some reason it didn't.  I don't know how long he waited, but there were people behind him so he got the brain wave to drive around the arm (we had a small car, he figured he'd see if it fit... or something... I don't actually have any clue what he was thinking...) and as he was trying to maneuver the car around the arm, it lifted and then lowered again - directly into the driver window.  I have no idea how... I just remember how embarrassing it was as Dad tried to drive the car forward and backward in an attempt to free us from the parkade arm...  I actually don't remember how we got out of there, but I was mortified - I remember that. 

But Dad was never embarrassed.  And you could always bring up the story later and he would laugh.  There was nothing you couldn't bring up, actually.  Once (when he actually did get really angry...) he started throwing apples in the house. (That's what was easily accessible, I think...).  Mom jokes about how she was cleaning up applesauce for weeks afterward, and Dad laughs too.  It doesn't bother him to bring it up - it's funny, why not laugh.

I think I'm this way too - mostly, anyway.  And I hope my kids can always laugh at themselves also.  Nothing is so serious in life, it's better to be able to laugh.

 

I'm sure I could think of more, but it's a pretty long post already, so I'll be done here.  I just wanted to talk about my Dad a bit... Thanks!

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 00:40

I hate wind...

I have likely mentioned this before at one time or another, but I am petrified of wind.  Of all kinds of storms to endure (on the prairies), none scare me more than a wind storm.

It is 12:20 am and as I was lying in bed tonight, hearing the wind moaning outside, I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep until it was over, so I thought I'd get up and do something... and here I am.

When I was a child, my Dad helped to instill a fear of wind (and, well, just about everything) in me.  At the start of any storm, he would instruct me to remain in the basement - preferably in the tub or under the stairs - until the storm was over.  I rarely listened, but I grew to have an excessive and unhealthy fear of wind.  It has actually only been in the last few years that I've learned that dangerous winds are really not that common in our area of the world... but it scares me still.

Having a child in the house doesn't help.  I could run downstairs and cocoon myself in the bathtub, but it would seem a little ridiculous to pack up my children and run downstairs at the first sign of wind... It also would only ensure that they would inherit the same fears. 

So, although there is nothing at all I could do if the wind chose to 'blow my house down', I sit here as though on guard, trying to protect my family.

It's humbling, now that I'm thinking about it, to know how little in control I really am when it comes to so many things about my family.  I can't stop the giant tree in our yard from falling into our daughter's bedroom.  Even if I stood over her crib, I couldn't stop it... And yes, my head 'goes there' - all the time. It is only God who is in control of all things, and I think sometimes He allows storms like this to terrify me to remind me that I am not in control.  He is in control. 

Matthew 6:25-27

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"

Published in Blog
Monday, 12 March 2012 16:04

Sad Update on my Dad...

I just read over my interview with my Dad from last Thursday, and it almost brought tears to my eyes.  This Sunday afternoon, he returned to the hospital and when I went to see him later that day, I wasn't prepared for what I saw.

I should be prepared for anything by now, but I wasn't.

Lying in his hospital bed, all I could think of was how old he looked.  Ancient, even.  Like a 98 year old man.  He was hardly able to speak because the effort was too great, and his whole body was vibrating as if the strain of being awake was almost too much for him also.

My Mom told me that he had been quiet all day, and I was told by other family members that even the day before he had seemed very quiet - seemingly unable to give more than one or two word answers to questions.  I think Thursday morning was the last time I spoke to him. 

All I know is that my Dad needs prayer - and a miracle.  We still don't have a clear picture of what is causing his brain to spontaneously bleed and clot, and the doctors don't seem to know any more than we do. 

Please Pray.

Published in Blog
Thursday, 08 March 2012 10:42

Thursday Interview - With My Dad

Last Thursday I interviewed my Grandmother, and after some deliberation I decided that although my goal is to interview 'Moms', the series wouldn't be complete without including all of the 'Moms' in my life - which, for me, happens to include my Father. 

My Dad is in his 50's, and has been involved with raising two children - myself, and my step-brother who is 4 years younger than I and was 4 years old when Dad became his step-dad.

Interview:

1. Do you remember what was going through your head when you first saw me?

There's my little girl... there's my daughter.

2. In what ways do you think I'm like you?

Lots of ways - musical talent, artistic talent - lots of ways.

3. Do you remember any of the songs you used to sing to me?

Yes, I remember one song - I used to sing you to sleep all the time...

*Dad was unable to recall the name of this particular song, but I remember him singing 'You are my Sunshine' to me as a child.

4. What are (or were) your dreams for me?

I wanted you to be successful always.

5. What were the hardest moments you had when I was growing up?

I don't know... I don't know if I had any hard moments...

6. Do you think it's easier or harder now to be a parent than when I was a child?

No, I think it's the same.

7. What advice would you give me about raising my own kids?

Let them grow up on their own, without telling them who they're supposed to be. 

I won't go into great detail about my relationship with my Dad - you can find more details on my 'About' page, as well as some past blog posts, like 'June 1, 2010' and 'Update'.   His answers here are short, but they mean a lot to me.

Suffice it to say that for the first seven years of my life, it was just 'Dad and me' and so we are extremely close.  In 2010, my Dad began to suffer through a series of spontaneous bleeds in his brain that doctors seemed at a loss to explain.  Since that time, my Dad has struggled to communicate as he once did.  Lately, he finds himself emotionally moved to tears quite easily, and an interview like this brought up many emotional memories for him.  

I am so grateful that he took the time to do this interview with me, and I appreciate that he tried to remember things at a time in his life when remembering is physically not an easy thing for him to do. 

Published in Blog
Monday, 14 November 2011 10:31

Update

For those of you interested in what's going on with my Dad, he's back at home now, having bounced back from this latest incident really quickly.

He is also telling a lot of strange stories that are likely a result of his dreams when he was in a drug-induced coma for two days, but he is still convinced they really happened.  Other than that, he's doing well.

Our family is frustrated with the fact that there seems to be no real plan for follow up on him, and we still have no idea what is causing this bleeding...

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 08 November 2011 22:07

June 1, 2010

Just to give some background...

On June 1, 2010 (I was 3 months pregnant at the time) as I was getting ready for work in the morning I saw a text message from my Mom asking me to call her as soon as possible.  My parents live directly across the street from my Grandparents (the ones I am really close to because they had a big part in raising me) and both of my Grandparents have had significant health issues that have put them in the hospital for long periods of time and have made us more than a little nervous.  So, my first thought was that something serious had happened to one of them. 

I never expected it to be about my Father. 

Even though he had gone through cancer five years earlier, by the time he was telling me about the diagnosis, he was also able to tell me what the game plan was.  He came through it beautifully - and the key words in that previous sentence were that 'he was telling me'.  There is something so reassuring about hearing about something from the person who is 'not ok' - because when you can hear their voice, you know that they are at least somewhat 'ok'.

This time it wasn't my Dad telling me anything.

My mom was telling me that Dad had experienced an odd sort of bleeding in his brain.  Although the doctors said it wasn't a stroke or an aneurism, the effects were similar.  He was left unable to communicate correctly - he said yes when he meant no and the reverse.  He couldn't wrap his head around long sentences and couldn't 'find' words that to most of us come to our lips without any effort.  He could understand everything as far as we knew - the 'input' was working fine - but the 'output' was completely broken.  Although he could make sounds with his mouth, he had forgotten how to speak, could no longer write, and had to relearn how to do simple tasks like turning on the tv and reading a book. 

Over the next few months we learned very little about Dad's situation.  Doctors did a number of tests and scans and could find no cause of the bleeding.  He also gradually improved until he was almost completely back to normal.  Only those of us who knew him really well would know that he was at all different and that his comprehension was not what it once was, and when he stumbled for words or stuttered that this was a result of his odd 'injury'.  We were so hopeful.

Until it happened again. 

And again.

And again.

Each time he would begin with less ability than the time before, and each time he would recover to almost what he was like before the current bleeding.  It was like he was jumping down a flight of stairs, then taking all but one step up, then jumping down another flight, but each time he was ending up a step below where he had been before. 

On Saturday morning I got a text from my Mom saying that it had happened again.  This time he was in the ICU and they were keeping him in a drug-induced coma because each time they tried to let him wake up he would go into seizures which would only make the damage worse. 

Today they removed his breathing tube.

My Dad is 52 years old, and he will never be the man I used to know.  He has one grandaughter (Clara) who is nearly one, and although she might get to know this new man who acts a bit like a child and loves her dearly - she will never get to know the Dad I had growing up.  This is unbelievably difficult for me.  My Dad was my hero - he refused to let my mother abort me, and when he found out she was about to take off with me - he chose single parenthood over letting me go.  My Dad taught me how to be strong, how to be realistic about myself and my abilities, how to work hard for what I want and how to push myself to achieve anything I want to.  He taught me how to be strong about what I believe, and although he believed very differently than I do, it has been because of him that my faith has been challenged and I have become so much stronger in my faith and relationship with God.  My Dad was a master craftsman who could build anything, even though he didn't really think of himself that way.  He was never very good in school, but he taught me to read when I was 3 and it wasn't until I was much older that I learned that when he spent days and days with his nose in some textbook or other, that it took him three times as long to read it as I would because he was dyslexic and had to really focus to make all of the words stand still.  He bought me a textbook on philosophy when I was 12 and I read it, and we discussed things in detail and debated everything.  It is because of my Dad that I am the geek that I am, and that I have the passion for learning that I do.  I can completely respect a view that is opposite to mine because I always respected his, and he always respected mine. 

I could go on forever about my Dad, and I suppose no one would want to read it.  I think my point has been made, and I hope that my next blog post will have some good news.

Published in Blog
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