Tuesday, June 1, 2010

When it doesn't all add up...



When I worked in Psych. one of my responsibilities was to observe behavior of our patients. Not only to watch in minute detail, but to painstakingly document behaviors, conversations, and demeanor each day. If a patient said they were sad, and talked about sad subjects, and cried... there wasn't much more to interpret. Often times however, not all of their words, thoughts, and behaviors matched up so neatly. Sometimes the smiling face in front of you that claimed "I feel fine," had so much unspeakable trauma, that you knew that face was a brave exterior to a crumbling inside.

The pictures from part of our weekend, don't truly match my words. Oh I suppose they do for the boys. They truly relished their time with Grandpa and Grandma at the lake. They had campfires and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. They relaxed in the hot tub. Colton took pictures with his new camera. Nolan went fishing out in the boat numerous times and caught several fish. They came back to town tired and happy.  But Rick and I only briefly visited the lake.

On the way to the lake on Saturday, my phone rang. It was a panic-stricken voice on the other end. Mom called an ambulance for dad. She had tried to take him out to lunch and he collapsed on the way home.

When I told mom we'd return to town just as soon as we'd dropped off the boys, she didn't refuse our offer.  She sounded so alone, and her words were riddled with guilt.

Rick drove us, quickly back to town.  By the time I arrived at the hospital, dad was awake and talking.  While more stable, he was still on 14 liters of oxygen... his normal requirement is 5.

My mother and I have taken turns staying with him at the hospital.  His spirit remains strong, despite his failing body.  He talks of getting in the boat with the boys to go fishing.  He wants help in the garage from Nolan, in sorting his tools.  He talks of traveling.  But his words don't match what his body is clearly no longer capable of doing.

So we smile and nod.  "Sure, anything you want Dad," we say.  We make light of the fact he is tied to his chair with a monitor that sounds an alarm whenever he moves beyond its confines.  And then the nurses run in and scold him gently, reminding him he has to stay still.  In the meantime, dad gets a sly look on his face and he chuckles as they walk away.

Its true, outwardly we are coping.  We simply don't know where we are at.  So we smile and make small talk, and go on.  And I know I don't match.  At all.  My exterior may be brave, but its on the inside that I am crumbling.





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19 comments:

  1. Oh, friend. My inside and outside are crumbling for you. I hate the outward signs of he hospital for your dad, but am so grateful for his ornery twinkle. That he is still himself, regardless of where he is.

    Just know I'm here if you need me. Any time. Ok?

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  2. I am so sorry Vicky. I know how you feel having gone through it myself.
    I still cry. I guess I always will.
    One major part of your life eventually leaves then you hold on tight to the other one.People become more precious with time and you wish you could still go back to times when you argued about little things which seem totally irrelevant now.But you have your precious family and new memories to make with them and old times to tell them about.
    Hang in there.

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  3. My heart understands and my prayers are with you ...

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  4. Vicky - my friend - you are in my prayers as is your dad and your entire family!

    I can't begin to say I know what you're going through-I can't imagine it. I pray that he is comfortable and that you can get some rest and enjoy this time with him and the rest of your family!

    Hugs

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  5. Vicky, no words I can conjure up will help, but I hope these days give you some comfort knowing you are there for your father, and he still has that twinkle in his eye and a zest for life.

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  6. I am so sorry that your family is going through this right now. It sounds like you have been a great encouragement for your dad and an amazing support for your mom. Just make sure you take care of yourself too! My prayers are with you...

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  7. Vicky...I've been praying for you as you and your family have been on my heart for the past week.
    I remember in times past when my world was falling apart someone would tell me that I was so strong. So brave. I wanted to scream: I'm a terrified child! How can you think I'm strong?

    I want to reach over the distance between us and hold Vicky the frightened child. I'm sending you so much love my friend. So many prayers for you and yours...

    I wish I could be with you for an afternoon.
    Your covered in prayer from my little corner of the world...

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  8. I know just how you feel..

    Just be strong...for your family, for yourself and for your dad..I'm sure he won't be happy seeing your crumble.

    Is that him on the picture with fish? He looks like a man with a kind heart, and a great father/grandpa.

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  9. I've just been thinking about this very thing and have even started a post about it. I think blogging nad nearly any kind of writing can mask SO MUCH as we distance ourselves from the struggles of life. And then, as you say, there's the real-life acting we must do. Sometimes for ourselves and often, for others. We smile and tease when we feel like falling into a crying heap and declaring that we really can't do this.

    I'm praying God continues to lift you while your mom and dad lean on you. About the time we think we can't do it, we find strength we didn't know we had. Because we didn't. It's His strength getting us through.

    Thank you for sharing your need so I can pray specifically. And like Gitz, I'm glad your dad is still having his own way and won't let them take all his twinkle away.

    Love to you, dear Vicky.

    Robynn

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  10. I am so sorry for the pain that you are experiencing. I will be praying for your entire family.

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  11. Hang in there Vicky. I know it must be hard trying to be there for your dad, but also live a normal family life. I'm glad your boys had fun doing what boys love!!!

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  12. It is confounding isn't it? Life proceeding normally while someone we love struggles to hold on to life. Such a paradox how we can engage in the courtesies and expectations of a civil life as we experience pain and sorrow inside. Then again, with kind people such as yourself, how could it be otherwise?

    You are caught in the middle of the cycle of life. Middles of every kind are always hard.

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  13. I hope your dad is feeling better soon. I understand completely the two faces you must wear, it's needed just to cope. Your dad, you and your family will be in my prayers tonight.
    Hang in there.

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  14. Oh Vicky it's so hard to be strong sometimes but we have to be for the sakes of our children, they look up to us for direction and it is important that they enjoy the time they have with their grandfather.

    Love and support is what a good family is all about, and it appears to me you have a great family.

    I hope writing about your feelings and the support you have from you blog friends helps you feel like you are not walking this path alone.

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  15. I just brought my 96-year-old mother home to live with me. It was unbearable to see her try to cope in the assisted living place, but it's also hard to watch her diminish right in front of my eyes.

    Heartfelt acknowledgment and understanding go to you from me.

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  16. Vicky, So sorry to hear about your Dad. I do know how you feel though, as my Dad is struggling with Lung Cancer the last 6 months and it has been very hard. The little joys we experience through answered prayer, such as appetite and weight gain do bring smiles to the toughest times. Just as your Dad, gets that sly look and chuckles. Hang in there! You and your family are in my prayers.

    Hugs!

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  17. We are sending LOTS of prayers your way. Hang in there..

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  18. Oh, Vicky...you write so incredibly well but my heart truly breaks for you. I wish I could be there with you...to walk alongside...to ease this journey...and to give you a shoulder to lean on...I am praying...daily, dearest Vicky! Love you, Janine XO

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  19. Oh dear! So much is happening and I am blissfully unaware. Please forgive me for it! I wish there was something I could do or suggest, which would make it easier for your Dad. I salute his spirit which refuses to sag. You, your Mom and your dad are in my prayers

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I welcome what you have to say. Thanks for taking the time to grace me with your thoughts and words!

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