It’s been eight and a half months since the first stroke. Dad had admitted himself into emergency advising that he believed he’d had a stroke. Being a doctor, he was able to self-diagnose.
Things got worse an hour later. We all received the call you never want to receive: get to the hospital and fast.
The first stroke was only minor. It was the second one that nearly took him from us and caused all the complications. Two days prior Dad worked a full day at the practice. Not bad for an 83 year old.
In those few moments in hospital Dad’s world had been turned upside down. His career ended, his speech severely impacted, short term memory jolted and ability to concentrate impaired.
Work was his life and has been for the past 60 years. He didn’t have hobbies. He didn’t have time for them. He had his vocation: to doctor. And gee he did it well. As kids we were always jealous of the fact there were always more presents under the Christmas tree for Dad. And we got plenty; we were the kids of a doctor.
Dad was particularly down when I arrived at their place a week or so ago. I just missed the ambulance. He had fallen over, Mum called the ambos; they assessed him to be okay, and then left. Dad complained of a number of different ailments. There was nothing good about the world that day.
I made small talk for a while before asking some questions about his past. His long-term memory was still sound. For the next hour or so we simply chatted about his university days, his parents and siblings.
The longer we talked the more his demeanor improved from that pessimistic funk. Our conversation, even though often difficult for him to find the right words, had enabled him to forget the ailments and his present situation.
I saw pride as he recalled how one of his brothers had been shot down in WWII and survived to tell the story of being a POW. And then there’s the day he recalls with great fondness when he had the privilege to escort the Duke of Edinburgh (yes, Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband) around Melbourne University.
Life has stood still for Dad (and Mum) these past few months. Each day has been a struggle to cope, doing very little but surviving, and achieving even less.
It’s been heartbreaking for all of us, but especially for Dad. He’s had to let go of his greatest love: his doctoring. 60 years, no time to prepare, just bang. It’s over.
I just finished The In-Between: Embracing the Tension between Now and the Next Big Thing, Jeff Goins new book. Jeff recounts some stories from his life where he’s been forced to slow down or wait. Whether it was the train journey home for Christmas, the nine months till his first son was born, or the wonder of time spent with the elderly, Jeff encourages us to cherish the in-between moments.
Jeff writes beautifully and the power of these stories is in their ordinariness. We all experience the run of the mill moments of life. But Jeff reminds us that everyday is precious and even when nothing much happens there’s still joy to be found.
I read the book smiling. It is so delightful and comes with a strong message. Jeff has created a site for the InBetween which provides more information about it.
“Jeff Goins has penned a beautiful reminder that time is sacred, of how even ordinary moments brim with heaven, and that great souls are forged in the crucible of delay. What a delight.” ?—Ian Morgan Cron, bestselling author of Jesus, My Father, The CIA, & Me
It releases on 1 August, however, you can pre-order it now.
Jeff’s book reinforced the notion I’ve come to appreciate as I’ve aged that life is a series of seasons, not unlike the weather. Even in the bleakest of winters when everything is grey and no fruit can be seen, God is at work preparing us for a new season. That new season won’t be the same without the grind of the preceding winter.
Dad isn’t enjoying this season one bit, nor is Mum. It hasn’t been that pleasant for any of us. However, I’ve spent more concentrated one-on-one time with Dad in these past months than at any time in my life. As difficult as it has been to witness his struggle, I’ve felt a closeness to Dad for the first time in my life. Even the days he’s cranky at me for being away too long, I’m able to smile and see that he’s missed my presence.
Only God knows how long this season will last. Maybe it will be years, maybe just a few more days.
What will our spring look like? What has the Lord been doing in our hearts through this winter? I’ve no idea but I’m keen to find out.
If you are the praying type I’d love it if you were able to say a prayer or two for Dad. He doesn’t know the Lord, yet, and well, you know what to pray for.
Thanks a bundle. Oh, and order Jeff’s book. You’ll thoroughly enjoy it.