I was leaving the nursing home where my father lives. My dad at 93 years old sits in a wheelchair now and pajama bottoms. No more the slacks he wore only a few months ago. No more walking down the hallway with a cane, wobbly but walking.
I wrote not long ago that this is the man I grew up hating. Truly, I did. Yet these past few years love is all I feel. I think now he loved me a long time before he could show it. For when I see him – or rather as soon as he sees me – I get this reaction. I am his long-awaited Christmas present, swinging colorful piñata, and every joyful thing he can imagine rolled into one. (Mind you this is not my best side, and he’s Jewish.) But, hey.
Leaving the facility, my mother turned to me and I don’t know why, asked me, “Do you think growing up in a house where your father and I were unhappy together had anything to do with your diabetes?” “Everything,” I said.
My mother looked crestfallen. “But it’s okay,” I said. “Look at what it’s given me. I know how strong I am… my compassion, sense of purpose. I love this work, the people it’s brought into my life, traveling around the world.”
Of course I wasn’t thinking in that moment about the six to eight shots a day, the six to ten finger pricks a day. Constantly counting carbs. Worrying that my evening walk or wine at dinner or delayed impact from my morning walk or miscalculation of dinner carbs will cause me to not wake up in the morning. Hmmm… maybe I was having a low when I answered my mother. Nah.
Somehow, in quiet moments, it all makes sense. How I grew up, having type 1, my transformation from shy, shy, shy to speaking on world stages, becoming in many ways the person I’d hoped to be and the richness of my life today.
I’m truly grateful that my father has lived long enough for this love to be our swan song. And my mother’s who brings him companionship and comfort every day. As all the gurus say, this moment is the only moment. This moment is your life.