What If Today…Your Gift Was Enough?

“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” ~Malcolm S. Forbes

 “They’re bringing in Hospice to be with your dad,” he said.

“You aren’t doing enough,” is what I heard.

I raced to the nursing home the night before my father passed, leaned up against the wall outside his room, and called my best friend as I sobbed.

“Hospice is there for you and your dad, Bets. They’ll sit with him when you can’t be there.”

The guilt was overwhelming. I wanted to be there for him all the time. And I didn’t want to share my time with him with a stranger in the room.

So many swirling emotions and thoughts came crashing down as I cried into the phone. I guess I was feeling regrets.

I regretted letting months pass between visits. That was it. It didn’t matter that there were years that I lived out of state or that were filled with caring for my growing family; he was my father and I felt like I hadn’t done enough.

Sunday night, two days later, in another hospital waiting room for a different loved one, trying to rest on a very hard and cold couch, I had time to reflect in the quiet darkness.

What was the truth?

I reviewed my whole life with my dad. As I searched for and sifted through memories I found a gem that cleared away all doubt.

No matter what, he’d always thanked me for what I’d given him or done for him.

We both knew I could have done more. But he never said so. He was grateful, thankful, appreciative,and sensitive to my circumstances. In fact, I’d never heard him complain about a lack of visits or help from family and friends.

I’m not sure that I can adequately share with you the peace that thought gives me- that in the face of self-doubt and feelings of failure, I was accepted and always had been.

I’d shared an imperfect life with my dad, neither of us doing enough for the other, we both believed.

But I’d never felt a lack from him, and in the end I knew he’d never felt a lack from me.

What a gift.

I was enough.

And that, my friends, is precious to me. If you knew my dad and were able to see how some of the choices he’d made effected the quality and course of his life, you might see a myriad of possibilities of greatness dashed to pieces.

But this one trinket that I found started to shine when the lights went out. It had been gathering strength as it wove itself in and out of the life that we shared, waiting for the perfectly important moment to be unveiled.

It turns out it was his greatest gift to me…

…because it was the one that I needed.


8 thoughts on “What If Today…Your Gift Was Enough?

  1. What you’ve said has reinforced my decision to stay nearby my folks until they don’t need me any longer. It’s a sacrifice for ME, but my life is not my own; it’s my kidlets and allowing her the privilege of being with gramma and grampa is why I stay. It’s’ a choice I’m making to leave the bread crumbs into the future, and I wouldn’t want to miss these precious days with them, either.

    I am so glad you saw a gem of light, Betsy. The fact that you were there for him when he needed you most; I can’t stop thinking about the evenings just prior when he held court and brought the laughter with the tears.

    • There are times, Jayme, many times when I wasn’t at all sure that I was valued. There were never any tears unless a memory triggered some. Sometimes there wasn’t much to talk about.
      Finally- too late I feel- I saw a connection to him develop when I asked him to look at photos and to tell me who was in them, and took the time to listen and record his ramblings. It was magical watching the floodgates open up! Before that I had struggled to make the present relevant. But the present was full of routine and redundancy which left very little to stimulate a conversation.
      I’m in love with the elderly and how loving (even when they’re crotchety!) and willing to talk they can be.
      Good luck with your parents.
      Record their voice! I can’t tell you how wonderful it was when I remembered a recording I’d made of my dad and listened to it Saturday morning!
      Here’s the link if you want to hear his voice :http://www.legacystories.org/storyboard/listen-to-audios?controller=comment&task=add&cid%5B%5D=713

  2. Betsy..How cool you have that recording! I too have one from my Dad from my Birthday 2 1/2 yrs ago. He passed 2 yrs ago next month. Every year he would call me on my Birthday early in the morning (even when I’d see him on my Birthday!) and sing Happy Birthday to my voice mail. Yes it’s something I treasure now.
    I also can understand your feeling about Hospice coming in!
    .They are though the most Awesome guys and gals in the whole world doing what they do. I worked with them coming in the retirement Home for years,but when it came time to use them for my husband and my Dad..I was like..We can do it all..I mean there are 4 nurses in my family, but then I also knew what they could do and the support they give over time, not only to me but all the family members. No one can do it all!
    So , I heartily agree with your suggestion to record what you can! Doug has been recording (video) short clips of all our family get togethers since! (What’s great is no one knows he’s doing it!)

    As Always ~*~

    • That reminded me of another time, about 15 years ago when I had a camcorder attached to my hip and recorded a video of a child I was babysitting for a good friend while living in Idaho. A short time later, after we moved back to the Cape, her husband called to say that the little boy had drowned. I sent them the video- the only moving, speaking memory they have of him.
      I adore your dad for singing to you on your birthday! That is such a sweet and irreplaceable gift!!
      Thanks for understanding about Hospice. The man, Bo, was a sweetheart and my dad said, “I hope you don’t think I’m rude, Sir, I’m listening. I just want to close my eyes. You have a nice voice.” This while Bo is talking graphically about what the next few days have in store for him (pain and suffering). I nearly punched him in the face (not really, LOL!) until my dad said that. Nothing phased him..
      I get really ticked when someone makes up my mind for me. That was why I was upset as well.Turns out Hospice was involved from 7pm til 8am the next morning and came in once in the middle of the night to check on me. So it was okay!

  3. Listening to your Dad made me cry. For you, for him (not so much), for me…. missing so much my Grandpa, who was the only man that was ever in my life growing up… He passed away and left me when I was 6 months pregnant with my son… never held him. He was 97 and I know he was ready…but Zach will be 15 this year and I still ache for that unconditional, no strings love… the acceptance and really-really being HEARD. He sure could listen.

    I am so incredibly glad (good word) that you were blessed with the Understanding that came to you, the gift of HIM, your Dad, and these recordings you made. I hated that I wasn’t there, holding your hand, rubbing Lauren’s back, just being there, with you, knowing that a piece of your heart was breaking. I prayed that you truly understood, and would be ok…. How HARD it is to let the ones we love just Go..

  4. I was so touched when you messaged me in Google+ while I was waiting outside the ICU two days later for other reasons. I was glad I’d brought my laptop. Lauren and I had fun. And it would have been wonderful to have you there. That must be so challenging for you to be so far away. But I’m glad you’re in Chisana because someday I’m coming. What a re”treat” that’ll be!! I get the sense that you’re a very nurturing mom who is also up for a lot of fun.
    I can’t believe your grandpa lived to 97! It’s so true that the grandparents have a special kind of love to share. It’s so unlike what parents give. Isn’t it? There’s a mellowness about them. I miss my grandmother’s smiling eyes! I hope Zach appreciates your stories of your grandfather as you show him pictures. Those stories can strengthen a relationship and bind people’s hearts together that never got a chance to form in this life. I wish more people understood that!
    Thank you so much for your friendship, Amber-Lee!! It has been a real support lately!

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