Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Why can't we be immortal?

It's just not fair. I grew up knowing that if my dad was nearby, I was safe. We were all safe. He'd make sure of it.

Even when the danger took the form of a stray skunk in the yard, he was out there in the wee hours trying to run it out of the yard. He didn't even get sprayed! (disclaimer: in hindsight, we weren't sure it wasn' somebody's pet, but he didn't know it then!)

He knew the answers to everything. Smart, smart man, who always knew the right thing to do. He taught me all sorts of things, like how to shoot, fish, do multiplication, and act like a lady in public (although we could belch like champs in private). He teaches my kids now.

My parents are getting old. It's particularly difficult to watch it happen to my dad. Diabetes is eating his muscles and his brain. He's always been so large and strong, but his legs are now thin. His thought process slow and flawed. He's often cranky.

He never complains when he feels bad. This week, he complained. The pain kept him from walking. He's been in the hospital for three nights. They found the problem and fixed it, although it required major surgery. Seeing him in that bed, hooked up to all sorts of things, drugged up on pain medication....that was hard. He was so vulnerable. Helpless. He was talking nonsense and we had to intervene to keep him from hurting himself inadvertently.

It all scares me. That's not the Dad I've known. Sometimes, I've been hard on him for traveling and working so much when we were kids. I shouldn't have been that way. He was working for us, not because he liked being away. He regrets, and that makes me sad for him.

My parents are getting old. I dread the day when they are gone. I dread what's happening to them, for their sake. And that's why I ask....can't they be immortal? Can't they always be the people in the pictures in my photo album? Laughing and playing with their children, forever young and healthy.

Dad settling into his bed at home as I write this. My sister is coming to help during his recovery, and a little beyond. I wonder what she'll think?

My parents are getting old. They are still the best grandparents, and parents, any kid of any age could ask for. I just want them to be happy. I want them to know only the love of their family. It's funny -- I want to protect them as they've always protected me.

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