My son, pay attention to my wisdom; Lend your ear to my understanding, That you may preserve discretion, And your lips may keep knowledge. Proverbs 5:1-2 Last week, I noticed that my dad's hair was a little shaggy around the back. Nobody probably noticed it, because Dad has little to no hair on top, but my dad likes to be neat and trim. I stopped by and asked to make sure that Dad had enough money on the books to pay for haircuts and they scheduled one for this week. Actually, I asked her to schedule one for every week. My dad enjoys having his hair cut so much that I told her that if he runs out of money, let me know and I'll put more money on his account, so he can have haircuts every week. Anyway, when I went to see Dad yesterday, the first thing he said was, "Did you notice my haircut?" I complemented him on it and told him how nice he looked. What a difference something like a haircut can make!
My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, And put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:20-27 I told you in a recent post that my dad tried to teach me how to not scuffle my feet when I walked, which I ignored out of stubbornness and have lived to regret it after several falls. Well, there was one lesson that my dad taught me that lasted! Both my parents smoked when I was younger. My dad used to do a trick sometimes when relatives would come over. He would pull the clear film of the cigarette pack about 2/3 off, but still connected to the pack. He would hold the pack and film horizontally while he would touch the center of the film with the lit cigarette, burning a hole in the center. Then, he would take a puff of his cigarette and put his mouth over the hole in the clear film and blow all the smoke into it. He would take a finger and gently tap the underneath side of the clear film making smoke rings rise into the air. I wasn't even in school yet, but thought this was the coolest thing! I must have found one of his unlit cigarettes lying around and pretended like I was trying to smoke it. My dad caught me. Dad said, "If you think it's so cool to smoke cigarettes, I want you to smoke this whole cigarette, now!" Dad sat me down in a chair in my front room and lit the cigarette for me to smoke. It was terrible, but he didn't let me quit right away. He had me smoke it until I was near nauseous from it. It may seem like a strange thing to do, but his doing that kept me from ever desiring to smoke cigarettes ever again. Although my dad quit smoking 30+ years ago, he has COPD from all those years he smoked. His lesson that he taught me has saved me undue health problems that cigarette smoking can cause. I'm very blessed that Dad took the time to teach me to hate cigarettes!
Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, And the years of your life will be many. I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, And when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go: Keep her, for she is your life. Proverbs 4: 10-13
I was reading this passage thinking about how the years of my dad's life have been many. Instead of thinking how wonderful that is, I focused on the selfish little girl part of me who thinks it's never going to be enough!
I know Dad's weight is declining and his passing is inevitable, at some point. Although it pops into my head periodically, like grieving on the lay-away plan, it's hard for me to focus on it for long. Instead, I try to focus on how blessed I am to have had all this time with Dad!
I pray that God has me to handle things graciously when Dad does pass, because it sets the foundation of how they deal with death in the future. The control part of me might like to plan out exactly how I should act and what I should say and do. Fortunately, God is in control and I don't have to plan things out. I trust that Christ will have me react to Dad's passing in whatever way that He wants, so I don't need to be preoccupied with it-just enjoy our time together!
For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law. When I was my father's son, Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, He also taught me, and said to me: "Let your heart retain my words Keep my commands, and live. Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Proverbs 4:2-5
As I was typing these blog posts ahead and schedule to post at another time, I couldn't keep my mind from thinking about how sunken my dad's cheeks were when we went to see him last Thursday. He had weighed 132 pounds which was devastating to me. Then the next couple of times they weighed Dad, they said he weighed 148.
Some time before that, a nurse told me that sometimes the weight recorded is skewed, because they weigh him in his wheelchair and forget to take off the amount that his leg supports weigh. I knew it was too good to be true, but I didn't want to know the answer.
Anyway, I was thinking about how sunken in my dad's cheeks were on Thursday and debated calling the Veteran's Home to find out his current weight, but I didn't want to know the answer. After much nudging from God on my heart, I finally called. I was told my dad now weighs 129.8 ponds. It's gone past the 130 mark which already seemed terrible. I've got to focus on how much I enjoy spending time with my dad and how blessed I've been to have all this time with him, rather than focusing on what lies ahead.
Hear, My children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding; Proverbs 4:1 This passage reminds me of how my dad used to always tell me not to scuffle my feet when I walk. He used to have me walk back and forth practicing, so that he knew I could walk without scuffling. Unfortunately, the stubborn part of me would deliberately go back to scuffling as soon as Dad wasn't around. I inherited this stubbornness from my dad and not his sense of humor, which would have served me much better over the years! In hind sight, it would have been beneficial to have listened to Dad instead of walking off in a huff scuffling my feet all the way! I have herniated discs from falling. I broke my heel last year from falling and have fallen other times more than I can count. This reminds me of my faith walk with Christ. Christ gives me certain rules to live by and instincts along the way about particular situations. Do I always listen or do I cover my ears and scuffle down the hall out of stubbornness? Unfortunately, I have to say that sometimes I've done the latter, but want to be much more open to listening to my heavenly Father than I have always been to my earthly one!
The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the legacy of fools. Proverbs 3:35
This passage makes me think about what my dad's legacy will be when he's no longer with us. Somehow, I'm hoping that this will help me feel better as my dad slowly loses more weight.
My dad has always been a very principled man. He lived by those principles and people admired him for it. He, also, has been very loyal. He would stand my someone through thick and thin. My dad has a funny sense of humor, something that I didn't inherit, unfortunately. He can say something and have people rolling in the aisles! He's a real character, at times!
Additionally, my dad is very smart. No, he didn't have a college degree, but he made inventions. He adapted machinery and other things to make it serve a new or better purpose than it originally did.
Dad has always loved gardening and preserving his produce from his backyard, prior to moving here. Dad loves to play games like Dominoes and Solitaire and has done so with his great-grandchildren. Dad's an excellent strategical player in these games.
My dad is stubborn to a fault which is both good and bad, at times. This stubbornness keeps my dad from giving up easily on things. Sometimes, I think that's why Dad's lived so long, but then I remember that God is in control of how long we all live. I just feel blessed that I've gotten to spend all this extra time with my dad, stubborn or not!
The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked, But He blesses the home of the just. Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble. Proverbs 3:33-34
We went to go see Dad at the Veteran's Home and have lunch as we do every week. I knew that his cousin had fallen and had broken her collar bone. Every time I call her, she asks how Dad is doing, so knew it would brighten her day to talk to Dad. When I asked Dad about calling his cousin, he let me know he wasn't really in the mood to talk on the phone, which often is the case. My dad has never really liked talking on the phone much. I tried to prayerfully assess what I should do. Fortunately, God gave me the instinct to pursue it further. I explained to Dad that she had recently broken her collar bone and that it would really mean a lot to her if she got to talk to him. My dad was gracious when I knew he didn't want to talk on the phone and let me know it was O.K. to call her. I'm so very glad we did it. It meant a lot to her and I think it meant a lot to my dad, as well.
Do not devise evil against your neighbor, For he dwells by you for safety's sake. Do not strive with a man without cause, If he has done you no harm. Proverbs 3:29-30 We went to see Dad. He was in the physical therapy room painting a wooden Halloween lantern. (They do such wonderful things with the veterans at Physical Therapy!) My dad was so happy. (In fact, the nurse at the nurses station of his wing had told me earlier that Dad has been especially happy over the last few days.) We got to have lunch with Dad in the smaller, adjoining dining hall. We hadn't been able to do that for some time, because he had several bouts of pneumonia and didn't feel like going to eat lunch in the adjoining dining hall. To top that off, after lunch, I got to play Solitaire with Dad. We hadn't gotten to play that in a month or so, because of his illnesses. He just hadn't been up to it lately. I was so pleased about all of this, and then, decided to go ask how much my Dad weighed. The smile went off of my face. Dad weighs only 132 pounds. He had been losing weight, but they tried some things to increase his appetite, but it doesn't sound like they were working. Dad got down to 128 pounds several years ago and gained it back. Although I'm hopeful, I'm not sure that's going to be the case. I was so sad and just wanted to cry. I went to Physical Therapy to tell them how much I appreciate all they do to keep my dad happy and involved in things. I must have looked the way I felt, because one of the female Physical Therapy staff members gave me a couple of hugs. They have been very supportive of Dad all the time he's been there and I feel like God put each and everyone of them there as a special blessing for my dad and for all the other veterans!
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do so. Do not say to your neighbor, "Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it," When you have it with you. Proverbs 3:27-28
Dad was still in the hospital with pneumonia and I got a startling phone call. My dad's step-daughter had suddenly passed away. She was so young, it was difficult to believe. When the shock wore off, I realized that her name had been on Dad's house after his wife passed away the year before. Oh, boy, what now???? I prayed and prayed and the answer I felt led to was to help Dad put the house in his son-in-law's and grand-daughter's names, since they lived close to the house and were the ones who were going to be taking care of it and paying the utility bills. Dad agreed to all of that, which was a big relief. The part that was hardest was what I felt, personally. My step-sister was one of the kindest people you'd want to meet. She and I used to email each other periodically as she helped her mother through her golden years, as I did with Dad. It felt good to have someone else to talk to periodically about things, someone who understood. Someone who also felt that they needed to have our respect and support regardless of the cranky times they might experience with their health issues. I feel such a sense of loss without her. It's like there's this big whole in my heart. Then, I feel so very selfish, because her kids and husband miss her even more. She will truly be missed, but know she is in a better place and we will join her in heaven, some day.
My son, let them not depart from your eyes- Keep sound wisdom and discretion; So they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, And your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:21-24
We got the call that they were taking Dad to the hospital, since his lips were a deep purple. Fortunately, his vital signs were good, but it was pretty scary so soon after Dad having MRSA. I am very blessed to have a husband who has been very supportive of me and my dad. I told him that I really wanted to go to get a hotel, so we could see Dad for several days while he was in the hospital. My husband got on the phone and scheduled the room and we were off and heading to the hospital later that same day. I think it's reassuring to Dad to have us there. We have found that it works better for us to go to the hospital, go get something to eat, go to the hospital, go run errands and go back, so that we visit him around three or four times a day. It allows Dad to rest in between and Dad does better when the hospital staff feeds him, instead of me. I think he doesn't want his daughter "Momming him," although he doesn't mind if the staff feeds him. We were so glad that Dad was able to go to the Small Hospital in town instead of the bigger hospital about 30 miles from him. The staff in the Small Hospital are very sensitive to the needs of the senior. My dad likes to go to the bathroom. The staff takes him to the bathroom or helps him get on the bedside commode. At the big hospital, they would get frustrated when Dad wanted to actually go to the bathroom and they would just hand him a bedpan. My dad doesn't use a bedpan! Again, it was such a relief that he was in the smaller, Senior Friendly hospital.