The past few days my dad was helping me by installing a new used stackable washer and dryer. This necessitated cutting out walls, redoing plumbing and wiring from the basement to the first floor. This is a quality of life improvement for me. He is finishing up tomorrow by putting the wall back in. My dad has always been able to do anything and everything. I grew up not knowing what it was like to have repairmen called in, my mom and my dad were, are very talented, very resourceful.
Throughout my life whenever he had a project or repair to do he would swear like a parrot. This has simmered down only mildly over the years. Through the duration of this project it was clear, my father is aging, to a point where he cannot do what he used to do, but also where he was very frustrated with the reality of such. He was forgetting his tools in the basement and having to return downstairs to retrieve them. I would have done so, but knee surgery prohibited me from helping out. At one point he was swearing, in a loud voice and said “there is so much shit around here, it needs to be cleaned up”. Okay, I bit “Are you referring to my stuff dad, or your tools? And if mine where exactly are you referring to?”…”everything” he replied. Up comes the old “I am never going to be good enough or get his approval” self pity. With all the psychotherapy sessions I have been working diligently on improving myself and my triggers, I decided to let it go. I knew my house was clean, I also knew that for the past several months I have been digilently working on simplifying my life, ridding my home of clutter, of furniture, my basement of yard sale and flea market finds that I planned to turn to cash by painting them. I have been very proud of my accomplishments, I guess I had hoped he would at least say “Wow, the house looks nice. I am not a hoarder, though until recent months have had more furniture than the average person, as I liked my home to feel welcoming, inviting, cozy. Even this has changed! Well, I still want my home to be welcoming, inviting, and cozy! I was quiet the rest of the day, I was feeling resentful. Last night I called one of my best friends who happens to be a male. After venting that I wanted to call my dad and tell him how much his words hurt me, my friend gave me some sound advice including letting the whole incident go. I hung up from him, still feeling pissy. As I reflected upon my day I thought about my friends advice. I remember how frustrated and upset he would get with his own father for similar reasons, right up until the day his dad died.
I thought about my dad this man who worked hard his entire life. Married, in the Navy he sent home money to his parents to help them with the expense of his five other siblings. I thought about the beautiful homes he built for my siblings and I, he and my mother, inch by inch, foot by foot. I thought about how sad I felt that both of my parents are showing their age, both of my parents have reached a point where they have to accept their limitations. I believe that the hurtful comments made by my dad yeaterday were that of a man who has not wanted or ready to accept his limitations. While I do not condone what he said, I looked beyond my own feelings, frustration and thought about how frustrating it has been the past few days that I have been on crutches, or how my eyesight is quickly failing, requiring glasses to read or paint. Then I thought about this man who has done physical labor his whole life. He used his skills and labor to provide for his five children and wife. I never knew hunger pains. My basic needs were never ever threatened and certainly not in the manner they have been since becoming my own sole provider.
How immature, how inconsiderate of me to put my own feelings ahead of compassion for this man who I love so dearly, this imperfect man who loves me and my siblings and their families, this man who was performing a job best left for those younger, in better health. How selfish of me to not put his feelings first, while having flashes of friends who have had to take away their parents drivers license or worse, forced to put them in nursing homes.
His whole life he has looked out for me, for my siblings. He and my mother have buried two children, dealt with cancer diagnosis of all children and they themselves, both survivors. He has advised me at times when I was too belligerent to listen to him. I, the imperfect daughter of parents who became my and my siblings parents without the help of instructional manuals. I thought about what he has said as far back as I can remember…”I haven’t had a full nights sleep since you kids were born”.
Today, as I watched, listened to him work, thus swear, I accepted that I can no longer ask my dad to work on my house, carpentry, plumbing, electrical. I will still ask his advice, and WILL listen to what he how to say. It took me forty something years to figure out my parents did know what they were talking about!
Of all the things I put my parents through, and the stress that my own health issues have caused them, how could I not overlook something as stupid as yesterday’s flip comment, and much more? My dad is deserving of my respect and compassion.
By the way, the washer and dryer are in place, working wonderfully. My 76 year old dad persevered and got the job done… His days of physical labor are sadly coming to close, as is, I sincerely hope, my own self pity for not having my parents be exactly what I want them to be. I will respect him for all that he is, all that he has accomplished, and help him accept this difficult time in his life by being there for HIM!
What a difference a day makes! ❤