What would Dad say to me about this cancer, if he were still alive? I wonder how he would have reacted to the news about my health? He would have been worried – this I know for sure. In his earlier years, before Mom passed away, he would not have had much to say – but he would have chatted with Mom after I left the room and expressed himself to her. Then, she would worry more. Their private conversations always remained a mystery to me – neither would reveal the secrets of the other.
Dad would have gasped a bit at first and raised his eyebrows. That’s what he did when he was surprised or concerned. Sitting in his pink chair, he would have carefully considered his thoughts before speaking. I’m not sure if he did this because he wasn’t able to get the words out as well as the Parkinson’s progressed, or if he just became much more careful in terms of what he wanted to say. “That’s serious, Stacey.” he would have said. “Is there anything I can do?”
Dad also wanted to always help. He knew he couldn’t, but he also knew those words would mean a lot to me. Those words would show me that he loved me. As Dad aged, he became much better at telling me that he, “loved me too.”. I can still hear the intonation in his voice – they were words that will stick with me forever. They were the last words I would hear before closing the door of apartment 1001 behind me as I left our visit for my own home.
He would ask me, “are you feeling okay today?” if Dad were here. I would tell him I felt great. “Are you in any pain?” he would continue.
“The pain is clearing, Dad.” I would explain. “I am in good hands.” I would reassure him.
“Do you want a glass of wine, Stacey?” Dad would ask.
And the unthinkable would happen. I would have to say, “Yes, but I can’t, Dad. I want to be squeaky clean – no wine, no sugar, no white flour. I don’t know if it will help, but I want to do everything I can to help my body get healthy. I need to help my good cells regain ground.”
“Oh, then you better not. It’s a good thing your Mom is not around, you know. She would be so worried about you.” I could imagine Dad explaining.
“Yes. She was always worried about me, Dad. She always worried I worked too hard and that I did too much. Maybe she was right. But, what could I have done any differently? We choose to fill our lives with family and work and find very little time to just “be”. You were the same way, Dad, when you were young.”
“Your mother and I always tried to find a healthy balance. We worked hard, but we also played hard. We made time to enjoy what we had built. Living in God’s country – on the farm – also helped.” I could hear Dad explain.
I wish that I could have kept the property and raised our children there. It was so beautiful – and so back-to-basics.
“Good ol’ Stace.” I can imagine Dad adding. “You are in a real pickle. What will you do about work?” he would inquire.
“My job is good, Dad. I will be well taken care of. And I can go back when I’m better.”
“Oh? When will that be?”
“I don’t know yet, Dad. We will have to wait and see.” I would reply.
And at that point, Dad may pick up his book and start to read. His head would be tilted slightly up so that he could see the words in his book through the bottom bifocal portion of his glasses. He would pause, put his book down, and add, “Your family needs you Stacey. You be sure to not do too much, okay?”
“Okay, Dad. I won’t” I would reply.
And that would be that – at least for that moment. Dad was a man of few words but when he spoke, I listened. I often get the feeling both he and mom are somewhere off in the distance – not too far away – watching. They are my guardian angels, helping my family and I to keep level heads. They are helping us to be brave. They would be so very proud of Ben, Katya, and David – the way my children have risen to the challenges presented to them recently. I know mom’s arms are outstretched in anticipation of a hug and a squeeze. “Oh, dear.” Mom would exhale to my Dad with angst. “Why does this have to happen to her?” I know that’s what Mom would say.
But, Dad, would look at her, pause, then…. what would Dad say?