Sunday, February 17, 2008

Has anybody seen my Dad?

My Dad's body sits hunched in a chair a visual reflection of his broken spirit. His hands lay listless in his lap, but I watch them shaking. His eyes, though open, see nothing. They no longer act as windows to his soul. He stares off into space, seemingly oblivious to the conversation surrounding him. He has withdrawn into his own private world of silence, letting no-one in. His cup of tea remains untouched on the table beside him. Even laughter doesn't invite him to join us. Words swirl and dance around the room, but they fall on deaf ears. What has happened to my Dad?

Dad has always been my Knight in shining armour. He was the first man I ever fell madly in love with and therefore I had very high expectations for all other suitors. My Dad's been the solid rock and provider for his family for over 60 years.

He captured my little girl heart and he never...never let me down or disappointed me. In his arms I felt safe. Hearing his voice brought comfort and security. He used to love playing Board Games and was a master storyteller. Dad had a natural ability to imitate others and he'd have me rolling on the floor in laughter as he would retell one story after another, fascinating and enrapturing his audience. All would listen spellbound as he travelled back to days past, adventures taken, tales of love, and my personal favourite - the story of the 'Dale Twins'. Dad would then recount the events surrounding the miraculous birth of my sister and I - the rush to the hospital - our birth at 25 weeks - no hope for our survival and then how God spared the life of two little 1-pound babies. Dad would hug me and all seemed right with the world.

He's been a faithful man of prayer. Early every morning I would see him go to his 'Prayer Chair', Bible in hand, and spend time with his Lord. His Bible is a treasure - dog-eared corners, scribbled margins - words that tell a lifetime of heartache and joy - a life lived before and for his King.

He adored my Mom - still at the age of 82 remarks on how beautiful she is to him. They used to hold hands. They would dance in the kitchen. Eat suppers by candlelight. He's been a romantic through and through. At times Dad goes through these motions still - they seem familiar - but the feeling is missing.

Dad's famous line has been, "Leave it with me". He never said 'no'. He has reached in and become involved in the lives of friends and strangers. He was never afraid or ashamed to speak of his Lord and he's led people to Christ in his home, his office, his car, on the street, in a restaurant, over the phone - God's love had no boundaries in my Dad's life. God was his life. God is his life. God sustains his life. Dad's life has been held in God's grip of grace. Now, I am the one reaching out - reaching in - wanting desperately to be included in Dad's life, but at times he doesn't even know who I am.

His daughters stole his heart. My sisters and I never for a moment have doubted that we are loved. We are his princesses. Whenever we've been damsels in distress, Dad would be there in seconds in response to a child's scream because an intruder - often a spider - had invaded their kingdom; a piece of living room furniture was lodged in a doorway and a royal daughter needed rescuing; a precious daughter was standing abandoned on the curbside as her car had failed her - but her Daddy never did; or something broke and needed to be repaired. My sisters and I always believed that Daddy could fix anything.

Now, Daddy needs fixing and I am helpless. I see him withdrawing into himself. He speaks seldom and his words carry no emotion. They are sad and raw. His world is changing. He has been stripped of his driving privileges. He feels stripped of his worth. He talks of people invisible. He has become fearful. My once strong, brave, dependable Daddy can no longer carry me and my concerns. I'm not prepared for the changes I'm seeing and I don't welcome them. Dad has gone downhill quickly. Too fast. I want to build moguls on the slope to slow down the aging process. I need the respite of a few speed bumps.

Although he sits with me now - still my parent - our roles have changed. The man who once provided for my every need has lost all energy. He speaks of being a sorry excuse for a Dad. Tears stream down my face. That's not true. He's a great Dad. The Best Dad. I hug him, but his arms that once held me so tight now attempt to respond, but fall away.

A feeling of being all alone envelopes me. I want more than the memories of who my Dad used to be. I want my Daddy back.

(Note to those of you who read this who know my parents. I ask that you would use this post as a source of prayer not gossip. My parents live very private lives and, although I felt the need to express my thoughts right now, I would appreciate your confidentiality concerning my Dad's health. Please continue in prayer. Thank you.)

3 comments:

Catherine said...

Praying often for your family. Love you friend.

(((hugs)))

Charlene Kidd said...

Joy,
I was so excited to hear from you on my blog. I most definitely remember my Canadian girl!!
I love the way you have recounted your dad and the hero he is to you. I will pray for you and you family.
Thanks for including me.
Blessings,
Charlene

Robin said...

ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL, JOYFUL!

Your post resonated with me; my father died in January '07 after a 14-month bed-ridden stay from Lewy Bodies disease (a form of dementia). Though Daddy was VERY different from your father, role reversal was excruciating; because he needed 24-hour care, we (his children) were called upon to help in that care. It was a privilege, and God taught me much through those months. To Him be the Glory.

You're a wonderful writer; thanks for sharing some links with me for Blog Nosh. After I read through your submissions, I'll letcha know what we're going to use :).