Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day

As I write this Father's Day is but a few hours away and I am ready. I've bought my dad the one thing I know he will cherish the most - a six pack of 20 ounce diet Pepsi. I've also bought a card because I know he will enjoy the hilarious photo of the dog on the front. He will chuckle through dim eyes as he strains to make out the image and try to understand what it means. The message inside is silly but that hardly matters. Dad won't understand anyway. I will write a short message inside and sign my name, but both the message and the name will mean little to him. I will sign the message with "love" but I cannot write the message I really feel. He will not understand, and it is too painful for me.
The message I really want to write - the one he cannot understand - is "I love you Dad, and I miss you."
The awful truth, the horror that I witness every day and from which I cannot escape is that my dad is passing away before my eyes. Like so many millions, like other people in my church, he is a victim of dementia and it is slowly, irresistibly robbing him of life. The disease has already taken the personality I once knew and all his power of recognition with it. Except for what feeble life force remains, my dad is all but gone.
You may know someone whose father is hindered by certain physical conditions. Perhaps you are facing an unpleasant Father's Day because your dad cannot do the things you wish, or perhaps he cannot be with you this year. That's understandable. But if your father still knows you, recognizes the sound of your voice, and can have a reasonably intelligent conversation with you, you have a treasure millions of others can no longer enjoy - even if you are miles apart.
Yes, I am grateful that I have my dad at all. Very likely, this is his last Father's Day and I will make it as pleasant for him as possible.
I hope you can do the same. Of all the gifts we can give one another, the power to know, to love and to knowingly give that love is the greatest gift of all.

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