Life’s journey will bring us all to this place – eventually. A place of being “benched” either by unexpected circumstances, physical/mental health issues or just simply being sidelined by life in general. Being benched is a place of reckoning. It’s in this place, you will determine to either stay in the game or on the bench. Your mindset, your strength of heart and the people you surround yourself with will aid you in that determination.
It wasn’t until I had gone on “walkabout” (to coin a good ol’ Aussie phrase) for a number of years, fought my way out of some hard knock alleys and dead ends, that I eventually came face to face with myself. It all started with a letter that I wrote my dad in my late twenties. Seeking to set things right and find a way back to moving forward.
We exchanged letters and phone calls for a number of years, me truly learning about this man. Eventually understanding and letting go of what had been and what would never be again. Fourteen years of talking and writing between Australia and the USA. Then came that day. It was one of those airport reunions, where as others hurried by oblivious of anything but their next connection, my Dad and I came face to face. Holding back our tears, we fell into a fierce hug. My love for this man, my dad, is deep and will last a lifetime, his and mine.
It was in his time with me that I saw the depth of my dad’s passion to serve and care for those with physical limitations, as he took care of my second Mom. I witnessed the strength of their love for each other in the smiles, the gentle touches, the tears and especially in the laughter. Like the time I was helping Dad get Elaine into the back seat of our van so we could go out. Dad had lifted Elaine out of her wheelchair and was halfway in the van with her on the back bench seat. He instructed me on how to lift her feet and swing her legs. What I didn’t account for was her weight … or the lack thereof. So when Dad said lift, I did, and he went flying back on the seat with Elaine landing on top of him! I couldn’t believe what I had done! Standing there with my hands over my face, from underneath his wife, I heard my Dad say, “Really Elaine, not here!” We all lost it. When Elaine laughed that sweet soundless laugh, her whole body shook and her face was covered with absolute joy! Elaine though physically “benched” never allowed the illness to steal the joy of the relationship and life she shared with my Dad. After caring for her for seven years, she eventually went home to a far better place and I ached for my dad. After a time, Dad began to share with me of his travels, the golf games he played, the rugby (Go Wales!) and football games he watched. He kept working, wherever he found a need for a first class physical therapist. Five times he said he was going to retire. Five times, he was celebrated and fare-welled. And five times, he returned to the work he loved! I know he just did the retirement thingy for the parties!
A couple of illnesses and a pacemaker in his mid eighties slowed him down. If not for his best friend and companion, dear Rosemary, he would have found ways to keep carrying on! Rosemary seriously deserves a medal. I mean, seriously! While we are giving out medals, lets give one to his doctor too. I mean who schedules a pacemaker battery replacement appointment 10 years out? My dad, that’s who! The doctor said, “But sir, you’ll be in your late nineties at that time.” To which he replied, “I know, I plan to live to 100!” And he probably will. Me too, Dad!
So here is this picture of my Dad sitting on a bench, learning to regulate his breathing, rest and slow down. You seriously don’t believe that bit about slowing down, do you? Well, truth is, he did. Until this year, that is, when he discovered motorized scooters and bought two of them! One for home and a light weight one for when he and Rosemary travel. I laughed so hard at the video he sent me, of him grinning from ear to ear, doing his royal wave, with the Welsh flag flapping on the back of his new scooter, as he zipped by going a whopping three miles per hour!! LOL
Oh Dad, what a journey your life has been …. and continues to be … I want to be just like you when I grow up! 😉 And just so you know, no matter my age, the little girl inside me will always want to tell you just one more time, I love you so very much!