I enjoy this respite. It keeps me grounded in the present moment. Something I find hard to do while my father lies in the ICU. Later this morning my siblings and I meet with Dad's medical team to discuss end stage treatment.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. He went in for surgery 4 weeks ago. The schedule called for a brief stay in ICU, followed by a week on the surgical floor, and a few weeks convalescence in a nursing home. For his first surgery ever in his 83 years, Dad did well. Although the pathology report came back with a malignancy, it is the secondary infections that are killing him.
Amidst my return trips back to my hometown to see Dad, I attended my 40th high school class reunion a little over a week ago. We were a small class of 59 growing up in a small midwestern town. It was a poignant, heartfelt reunion. I found myself talking with classmates that I never talked with in high school.
I believe it has a lot to do with being older. Life has seasoned and weathered us with good times and bad. We've all experienced loss, and been humbled at times. Dare I say we have mellowed and aged with distinction and grace?
There is something about "cycling" back through the formative years, revisiting the physical scenes of our successes, failures, triumphs, and humiliations. It's like reconnecting with a part of myself I haven't been in touch with for awhile.
I struggle with watching my father slowly die in the present. I don't want to let go. In my head I know that the older generation moves on. We take over the elder position while watching our children and grandchildren move along the life cycle. From birth, to life, to death, and back to life again.
Amidst my sadness and loss, a multitude of friends, extended family, and colleagues reach out to remind me that we are all connected. As I sit and write this, I allow their love, prayers, and positive energy to reach me, and support me.
There are many things to be grateful "for" but, as I ripen with the seasons of life, the many reasons blend into a sacred mystery. And, most deeply, I realize that living gratefully is its own blessing.
- Michael Mahoney
[Photo Credit: Dani Simmonds]