Single Parent Faith

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Our Happiness— Expectations We Place on Partners



For those of us who are single and ready for that special relationship, if we are not wise, we may unwittingly set ourselves up for failure when we begin our search upon a foundation that is error-laden.

This happens when we put our hope in ideals and fantasies we have about relationships. One such fantasy is that a new man or woman, the “right one” of course, will deliver us into a realm of happily ever. This concept often assigns the responsibility to the other person, to take us there. In essence, we have heaped a lot of expectations upon the role that this person must fulfill. We basically rest on them as our foundation for our happiness.

When embarking on such a fantasy, inevitably it is interrupted when the discovery is made that “they” no longer “make us happy.” Or as I was once told, “You are no fun any more.” The fantasy ends with one or both bolting away from the relationship in search for another “they” to fill this unrealistic perception of relationships and love.

I would like to say that I am describing what teens and children do, but unfortunately, this type of behavior is repeated throughout all adult age groups. In fact, I would venture to say that children are more mature than this, than to bolt at the first signs of reality. After all, they have a lot of practice putting up with adults.

A friend of mine recently lost a lot of weight. When I saw her she said with enthusiasm, “Now all I need is a man to be my motivation to keep losing!” My heart hurt for her when I heard this. When we assign to someone else other than ourselves, this role of driver and catalyst for change, we essentially sign away our power and place it in the hands of another. Nothing long term and sustainable results when this happens. A few years back she lost a lot of weight and met a man who swept her off her feet. She assigned him then, the role as her catalyst to continue losing weight. In less than 2 weeks he was prophesing he loved her, in over a month they were engaged. Then out of nowhere he disappeared and would not return her calls. I think you know where I am going with this. Sadly similar scenarios have occurred to a variety of people, though the details may vary, the outcome is typically the same. When the relationship ends, the weight comes flying back on.

Why?

Because we heap our expectations of deliverance onto someone else. We give the other person the role that we must own. We are constantly looking for someone else to make us happy. Weight issues are never just about liking food too much. If you dig deeper you will discover the root cause. This can be said for any addiction, not just food.

Running away can be an addiction, also.

Some adults are addicted to remaining perpetually in childhood.

I know someone who kept coming into my life, then bolting at the first sign of anything he was not equipped to handle, basic life and relationship skills.  When I let someone into my life, I have to take responsibility for my choice. If instead I focus entirely on what he did or didn’t do, and his issues as I perceive them, then I am pouring all my energies into something I have no business doing: living someone else’s life for them. In the interim, who is living mine? My job is to see what this is to teach me about me. My life requires I pour my energy into solving my own mysteries. Making my own discoveries about myself, and learning where I need to grow.  

In the initial phase of dating, before you make the decision to go on that first date, the second, and so on, you must have an understanding of yourself—What your core values are, what you believe, what you struggle with, where you need to grow, whether you want to grow, and what are you doing about it? Without this, you cannot determine clear character traits this person must possess and won’t be capable of differentiating if they are present, or have the strength to say “no” to the wrong relationship if it appears in a deceiving shiny attractive package.

But first, one must come to terms with the expectations of the role for each adult participant. We cannot assign to the other, the ownership of our happiness. Our foundation must be sturdier and more solid than to put it in the hands of flawed human beings.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
Its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”  (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

Notice that this bible passage is clearly expressing reality, not a fantasy. It foretells that heat will come. It doesn’t say “if” but “when” heat comes. It doesn’t say “if” a drought arrives, but ”in a year of drought” meaning to expect droughts to come. The reality is that these challenges happen on earth, just as they happen in relationships. When the heat arrives, what do you do? Do you run? When things get uncomfortable, tough, do you run? If we do not put our confidence in the Lord, which is a steady foundation with life pulsating roots that run deep and whose source is living waters, we are putting our confidence in someone (the other person in the relationship) who is flawed. When you base your foundation on something flawed, it will succumb to fear when the problems and challenges arrive, as they always do in every relationship.

The person who believes in fantasy, believes that there is a relationship (just around the corner, possibly the next one) where they will not experience any discomfort or sacrifice. It will always be “fun” and light and require no work out of them. Wee!

Reminds me of the passage,
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a childWhen I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” (1Corinthians 13:11)

Adulthood is a time to assess our childish ways and readjust our thinking regarding the lies we have believed which have not yielded beneficial results. The lie that relationships are supposed to be effortless and no work, is a classic lie that only works in the cinema where a relationship is limited to ninety minutes.

I am encouraged when I meet single men who understand reality and are not afraid of it. Men who place their trust on a sound foundation. Below is an exerpt I am sharing from such a man, to be an encouragement to all the women who believe the lie that all good men are taken or married. This is from a divorced man who has done his work and gets it:


“Another thing I am realizing, at this age in life, is that we each have different experiences and cultures and it is not possible for two people to see everything the same on every issue. We need to be wise enough to discern differences that really don’t affect the closeness of a relationship and differences that will pull apart a relationship. Because the differences will be there.

I say all this to point out that I want to be very open about the many facets of my life, past, present and future. My plans, and feelings, even at the risk of you rejecting me. I would rather have you reject me now than later. If I am not willing to do that, then I don’t think you should even want to get to know me. How can you make an honest evaluation of whether you would want to allow a person in your life if you don’t really know what you are signing up for?

It’s important to share similar “character” like honesty, fairness, responsible, doing the right thing even when it is a sacrifice. And of course, foremost, and I remember your profile pointing out a similar thought, a real love for God and a commitment through trials to keep focus on God. Not an up and down waverer, going on feelings. And in looking for all that, I have the responsibility to be that way myself. And I am not meaning perfection, for either of us, but generally in life, we should be able to trust one another to live their life accordingly.

Trustworthiness is a biggie, and I think we all have to make effort to not be selfish, and look to our own desires, at least at the expense of the other. And bible study and prayer and just so much more enters the picture. And I am still learning too, don’t want to portray I think I have arrived. I know there is much I don’t understand. And am not afraid to admit it.”


So refreshing to know that single adult responsible men who trust in God exist! 

Ella Venezia
Copyright © 2014 Ella Venezia. All Rights Reserved. 

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Soaring


I love how beautifully the photographer captured this seagull. His wings outstretched and feathers fanned out such that you can almost count them individually. Notice the pattern created by the unique outline of each feather.

Like this seagull’s pattern, each of us has a unique pattern to our life. Each with a unique story to tell. A unique history. A unique present. A unique future.

The seagull has his eyes cast forward in the direction of his flight. He’s not distracted looking backwards, such as dwelling on the past.

Look at his hind legs. They look like they are trusting. They are not struggling nor fighting against the rest of the body for control. They are following the intelligence already divinely bestowed within the design of their bodies. How often do we struggle with God’s all knowing intelligence, and fight for control?

I don’t know how evolved a seagull’s mind is, but it is not as complex as ours. We have the ability to reason, yet we usually don’t use that God-given power to catapult us to soaring. Instead, we may allow our past, or present circumstances constrain our wings. We need to be more like a seagull which leans forward toward the journey.

The seagull trusts that if he propels forward with his wings fully extended, he will take flight. He has his whole self fully committed to flight, otherwise he drops like a rock.

This seagull’s body in flight is a metaphor for how God designed us to lean into Him. We must trust in the infinite wisdom of God—The One who created every minute detail of every living creature, the limitless universe in the heavens and below the surface of the earth. If we fix our eyes forward to Him, we will expand rather than contract. We will not rely on our own limited powers and abilities, but rather soar in His. After all, God only designs masterpieces. 


Ella Venezia


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All rights reserved by Dragan*  http://flic.kr/p/e516wy


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Teen Moment- Keeping us Humble



Recently when I had my blog page open, my nineteen year-old daughter took interest.

She innocently asked, “How many followers do you have?”

“Thirty eight.”

“On Facebook, that would make you a loser.”

“But look at how many people have viewed my blog!”

“That doesn’t mean they stayed on your blog. They could have just clicked by mistake.”

Ouch! Nothing like my teen’s comments to keep me grounded and humble. 

Ella Venezia 

Image Source:
www.behappy.com

Sunday, March 3, 2013

In my Father's Vulnerability, I find Mine


“I feel like I need to tell you that it’s okay to be afraid. You’ve had to be strong but you need to know that it’s okay with God to be afraid. Spend some quiet time with Him and share what you’re afraid of.”

These were the divinely inspired words spoken to me by a couple from church who were recently brought into my life, to bless me with their friendship.

What God is this, that He doesn’t require us to be strong? He welcomes us as the weak and vulnerable beings that we are. In fact, He invites us to come to Him, honestly, like a child. This is some Awesome God! We can come to God any time, anywhere, just as we are. We can have a conversation with Him without formalities.

I recently had to make a decision to place my father in a long-term care facility. This decision is not an easy one, even though I know he requires around-the-clock skilled nursing care.  My prayers and thoughts have been more geared toward, “God please make me strong, give me wisdom to deal with all the decisions I must make for my parents who rely on me to do the right thing for them…”

To instead come to God and talk about my fears, shifts my prayer from a request, to just simply a conversation; Sharing what is stirring within me. I was not focused on what my fears are specifically, since survival mode made me bypass this step and jump immediately into, “I have to be strong.” Bypassing this step is necessary when the situation calls for it. For me it was several days before Thanksgiving, when I had to hop on a plane to see my father. I knew I had to hit the ground running as soon as the plane landed at La Guardia. I had to be strong enough to walk into a nursing home where workers were evasive and patronizing, to assess why my father was experiencing an abrupt decline.

Now, several weeks later, my father is in a safer place, I have returned to Texas, and my friends’ words act as a reminder that I can let my guard down and be honest and vulnerable. They must have noticed me still trying to shoulder it all, on auto-pilot portraying strength.

To put words and form to my fears, makes me look honestly at the moment. Not through a prism of strength which sometimes can distort the truth and mislead one to think one is in control, or doesn’t need anyone, much less God.

"Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."  Jeremiah 29:12-13

Only when we are honest with ourselves, with God, can we search for God with all of our heart. Only when we are open, vulnerable, pour out what our heart yearns to say, the reassurance we need to hear, the loving ears that our cries yearn for, can we shed pride and ego. What keeps our distance from God are the wedges of pride and ego which make us think it’s our problem alone to solve. Even feeling sorry for ourselves for being alone in the crisis is an act of ego – separating ourselves from our Creator. Sometimes we look to others to save us. Though we need the physical support of others during a crisis, we must be cautious not to default to relying on them solely, without coming first to God with our heart.

That November night, alone in a NYC hotel, after my visit to the nursing home where my father was barely recognizable to me — emaciated, lips and tongue wrinkled, parched from dehydration, confused, paranoid, hallucinogenic — I knew I was in over my head. My father needed me, but I didn’t know how to help. Only God could take care of this. Only God could give me the strength to face this fear. Alone, with no visible support system, my vulnerability busted my heart wide open. I could not rely on any one person to get me through this. I turned to my Heavenly Father in conversation and prayer.

I gave Him my tears, I sought Him with my heart.

In the days and weeks that followed, I have felt God’s reassurance in so many ways. In one instance, I initiated a conversation with a stranger at a bus stop, merely asking if she knew of any good nursing homes. Come to find out, she recently went through something similar with her mother living in Florida. She shared a wealth of advice. My parent’s podiatrist, Dr. Yu, unable to treat my father now that he is under the care of a facility, still made himself available to me any time, to discuss concerns and potential solutions.

During one of these evening calls, Dr. Yu echoed my concerns and agreed that, “It doesn’t sound like this is a good facility for Dad. I agree, we need to get him out of there.” He advised me against just single-handedly taking him out without a doctor’s approval. He was afraid there would be health insurance consequences if I didn’t follow discharge protocol. That night I felt an overwhelming urgency to take him out of that facility. I played many scenarios in my head of how I would scoop him up and physically remove him (he no longer walks), but knew I couldn’t manage him physically. I didn’t want to hurt him in the process of executing a poorly thought-out plan. I felt completely helpless.

In the midst of this whirlwind of thoughts, I remembered to return the nursing home doctor’s call. I was expecting I would have another difficult conversation with her — as I grew accustomed to her putting up road blocks — but instead, I heard, “You’re father isn’t doing well. I would like to send him to the Emergency Room, if you are in agreement.”

“Absolutely! Of course I agree! I will meet him there!”

My pleas to God for help were answered! Praise God! Now he was out of that horrible facility, without me having to force the discharge.

                    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
Elderly people are so vulnerable, especially when experiencing a health crisis. I was witness to this when I stood by him through the night in the Emergency Room, during his long hospital stay, then later when discharged to a skilled nursing facility. My father is vulnerable every time he requires a diaper change. Naked and requiring assistance to roll onto his side, the nurse and certified nursing assistant (CNA) follow a protocol to clean him.

To be in the presence of this moment, forces both my father and the observer into humility. How can I watch this and not feel mercy for my father? How can I watch this and not feel his pain, his shame, his unraveling? How can I hold judgment against him as a father, for any past expectations he has fallen short of? Naked, not a one of us can withstand scrutiny that is not through the eyes of love. Naked, the shackles of unforgiveness dissolve.

In this moment of humility, whereby I watch my father helpless and in complete need of assistance for his basic needs, my soul awakens with his visceral cry, “Dios! Dios!” (God! God!)

“What’s wrong Dad?”

“I want to die.”

“Why?”

“I am tired of them turning me this way, turning me that way…”

They have to perform this protocol when the patient is unable to roll over on his own. They need to turn him to adequately clean him. Otherwise he is at risk for infection. After explaining that, I added,

“There is still purpose for you Dad. It’s not time for you to die.”

“How do you know this?”

“Because God would have already taken you if your purpose was fulfilled. As long as you draw breath, God has a plan for your life. There is purpose in this very moment, though you may not know what it is.”

“How can I do anything in this condition?”

“I don’t mean literally that you are to perform a physical feat. We don’t know God’s plans, but what if your presence is necessary for those around you? What if you are part of the plan for our lives?”

“I know all that, don’t tell me!”

“Okay Dad, I know that you know. “ I smiled. This is my father. You can’t tell him anything because he knows it already. It’s part of the teacher in him and the way he has always been. This part still remains, though other parts of his personality have altered.

Then I quietly pondered, what is God’s work still to be done in him?

What work is He doing in me, as I witness my father enduring this?

What work is God doing in any of us who are in the presence of another’s pain?

We do not have God’s infinite eyes to see the majestic purpose behind this intricately woven tapestry that defines a person’s life, or a person’s season. 

However, one thing I do know, my father demonstrated his love and trust for me by allowing himself to be vulnerable in front of me. Much like I demonstrate my love and trust for God by giving Him my vulnerability.

I demonstrated my love for my father by choosing to stay in the room during his diaper changes, and during moments like the intake process at the skilled nursing facility, when they must uncover his body to assess his ulcers and body’s condition.

Most nurse’s were gentle and polite by informing me I can wait outside the door until they are finished. Some harshly instructed me I had to leave. I responded, “No. I choose to stay. I am my father’s health care proxy.” They typically proceeded on, and most were kind. However, when he was in the prior problematic facility, a CNA threatened that if I did not leave she would get her supervisor. “Go ahead, because no one is removing me from witnessing my father’s care.” 

There are times to be bold. God has emboldened me to stand up and show up for my father. I am humbled by His courage which He gives me when I need to call upon it.

Of course it would have been easier to excuse myself and not make waves. It would have been easier to avoid seeing the sacral (buttocks) pressure ulcer,  which after they removed the dead and infected tissue, has left a huge 5 inch diameter hole fully exposing his tailbone, spine and ligaments. The cavity is so deep, that one could fit a hand inside it to cradle his tailbone. This is covered by a gauze dressing, which must be replaced every time it gets soiled with a diaper change, to prevent infection.

I am afraid every time to look at his uncovered sacral ulcer. But I do not focus on the fear. I focus on my love for my father, which is independent of how he shows his love for me. My dad has never been one to openly and demonstratively show love. Though, in recent years it was a large victory when he began to tell me the words, “I love you.”

In that space with my father, in his most vulnerable state, I felt the words enter my consciousness, “Honor thy father.”  There was no choice other than to bear witness to the truth, to the reality that he is enduring. How can I understand his pain, if I look away from the truth?

There are times in life when there is no one to step in and do something for us. We’re it. As my father’s daughter, I need to be aware, so that I may stand up for him. We all have people who depend on us. We all must make a choice one day, to stand up for love. My strength comes from the Lord, not from me. Those weeks in NYC were not easy to navigate through. God gave me the courage and the wisdom to ask the questions of the medical staff, to seek assistance, to not walk in fear, but rest on Him as my source.  

I feel like I am in the midst of the story. That moment in the movie when you look at your watch and realize there is still more to come. Time still left for the plot to unfold. 

I do not know tomorrow. I do not have conclusions. I do not know the details that lay ahead. Unknowns. So many. There are seasons in our life designed to remind us that we are not in control. Surely this is such a season for me.

Though earthly time is running out for my father, that is irrelevant to God. God isn’t limited to the timeframe we have come to believe is the only time that matters. Some doctors tend to speak of an 88 year old in a manner that indicates he has been written off. Our Heavenly Father doesn’t write off His children. He loves every one of us with unbridled passion. We are all precious and we matter to Him.

The One who masterfully purposed our lives as He knit us into our mother’s womb, has a mysterious plan to do a wonderful work in my father, in me, in you.  He will use our present season to fashion a love story. He will use our fears, our vulnerabilities — anything we lay before Him with an open heart — He will use it all in the vast design of our lives, to reveal His love.
Ella Venezia

Image Source:
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Caption by Ella Venezia 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Power of Prayer- Uncertainty Ahead


“Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” ~John 16:24


Note: What I wrote below was written days before my trip to visit my parents for the Thanksgiving holiday. I was already sensing the looming struggles that lay ahead.

There are multiple struggles and changes occurring simultaneously at this moment in my life, demanding my attention and energy. I have been depleted for quite some time now, in need of rejuvenation, in need of deliverance. I found myself wondering last night, when was the last time I felt joy? I could not recall. I am in the midst of a heavy heart season, and I have lost touch with joy. Somehow it has disappeared into all the demands placed on me at the moment.

With a boyfriend too afraid to step up to life’s uncertainty and stand by my side, I felt a mixed blessing in his disappearance. If he can’t stand by me and be an anchor, then best he run scared into his safe closet. Now I may devote my energies to what God is calling me toward.


Hurricane Sandy heaped additional difficulties for my 87 year-old parents, living alone in NYC. Both were hospitalized within a day of each other. They are adamant about continuing to live alone in the city they have known all their life, despite having no family to assist them. As their Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy, I am in a position to make decisions that will impact their lives. I want to make the right decisions for them, yet the distance poses a challenge, as does my father’s stubbornness to the point of self-destruction. It is all very daunting to begin to figure out what to do when I arrive. My father’s health is spiraling since admitted to a rehabilitative / long term care facility recently. I don’t know what I will be walking into when I arrive to see my father.

In my future, I will have a loving, supportive and encouraging spouse who will stand by me and walk through difficulties  with me. He will be wise, offer encouragement, guidance, give me a hug, and talk. However, given he hasn't arrived yet…I feel alone now walking through this. I must hang on to hope and the realization that there is purpose in this present moment exactly as it is. 

Sunday I awoke at 7 a.m. without my alarm clock being set, which is very unusual for me. I was alert which was to me a surprise considering I went to bed very late. I took the time to do some writing, and in the midst of it all, I was visited by a feeling that I needed to save my document and get ready for the mid morning service.  At first I was thinking to catch it live on the internet, but then felt prompted to go in person. I was obedient to this feeling.

When I arrived at church, the sermon was on “The power of prayer.” I must admit, I have not been giving to God the attention and focus He deserves, for all He provides in my life.  My thanks at mealtimes and bedtime prayers—which lately have been cut short by me falling asleep due to pure exhaustion—seem an insufficient prayer life. Something within me has been clamoring to connect more deeply and more often to The One.

“When we Pray we are filled with boldness and with the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~Pastor Robert Morris (from Acts 1:8 and Acts 4:31)

In this season I need boldness and power to do God’s will in the midst of all my challenges. Lately this woman that I am, that is known by all as strong, has been feeling weak and inadequate to meet the challenge. I feel completely vulnerable during a time I know I must be strong.

What I like so much about this church is that they provide such great prayer support. So many people take Pastor Morris up on his invitation to come and ask for prayer. It is inbred in the culture of this church and he encourages it as very natural, by reminding us “We all need prayer.”

As I waited in line for prayer, a former co-worker walks by and stops when he recognizes me. I reach out my hand to shake his, but he lunges forward and gives me a hug. Oh, how I needed that. Meanwhile, the man in front of me begins to talk about some of the pastor’s CDs that he listens to during his drive to work. He gives me his business card and asks me to email him to continue our conversation. I notice an older woman searching for something she’s lost. I step out of line to assist her and thankfully find her umbrella. She places her arm around me to thank me.

I felt God’s love surrounding me in the warmth of these strangers. When in my immediate world I was feeling isolated, perhaps abandoned, He provided confirmation that He will not have me walk alone.

When it was my turn, I was led right to a friendly woman who was completely attentive to me. This kind woman held both my hands in hers, and prayed for my “Discernment, Strength and Joy.”  She reassured me that “God has not forgotten you. He wants you to come to Him, seek Him and ask.”
 

Come to Him. Prayer.

Seek Him. Prayer.

Ask. Prayer.

I got it. Loud and clear.




It didn’t escape me that she prayed for me to receive joy. Of all things, it wasn’t what I would have expected her to pray for — Joy.

To me this was confirmation that God is listening. He hears my laments and my cries to once again feel joy.

“Those who sow with tears
Will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
Carrying seed to sow,
Will return with songs of joy,
Carrying sheaves with them.” ~Psalm 126: 5-6

Ella Venezia

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Monday, December 3, 2012

My Father, My Child


“A perfect body is not required to achieve a divine destiny. In fact, some of the sweetest spirits are housed in frail frames. Great spiritual strength is often developed by those with physical challenges precisely because they are challenged. Such individuals are entitled to all the blessings that God has in store for His faithful and obedient children." ~ Russell M. Nelson 

“Don’t Leave!”
“I’m not going to leave you while you’re sleeping, dad.”

I imagine the anxiety of thinking that when he awakens, I will not be here.

He fights falling asleep as he lays in a hospital bed, this cold November evening. I reassure him, 

“You need to nap dad. Go ahead, I’ll be here.”

My hand softly placed on top of his head, feeling the once thick mane, now wisps of strands remain.  The warmth of his scalp penetrating the palm of my hand, as I caress the head of the man who brought me into being.

I look to him as he closes his eyes. This frail and bony figure, once a strong vibrant hearty man whose very laughter incited laughter from any within earshot. Now at 87, tired, weak, and wistfully contemplating, “I never would have imagined this.”

The voyage of a lifetime brings him to a hospital room two days prior to Thanksgiving. Dehydrated, malnourished, sleep deprived, hallucinating…

It’s been over a week he’s been in the hospital after we removed him from a rehabilitation/ skilled nursing facility. After days of hydration, anti-biotics, nourishment, rest, his infection continues.  

“Is your mother alright?”
“Yes”

I tried to cheer him up earlier. I couldn’t find a good get well card, so I opted for a funny Christmas card with a chimpanzee wearing a santa cap. When I showed it to him he quickly admonished, “Put that away. There’s a lot of Jewish people here.” Glimpses of my father’s personality still remain.

As he drifts to sleep, he says,
“Now I’m 99% safe”
“Why?”
“Because you’re here.”

I am now my father’s mother.

Maternal instincts kick in to protect my father and to make him feel safe. But just as a parent needs to balance caring for a child with caring for oneself, I find myself  every evening before I leave telling my dad that though I’d like to stay, I have to return to look after my mom and to get sleep so I may be able to return strong the next day. None of that seems to matter to him. All that matters is the immediate and the now. He doesn’t want me to leave. He doesn’t really think about what’s best for me, and what I need. I don’t think he can. All he can think about are his needs—like a child does.
  
But tonight, before I left for the evening, I stayed until he awoke from his nap. I wanted to make sure he ate before I left for the night. But when he awoke, he did not want to eat.

“No tengo animo para nada, tampoco para comer.” (I have no will for anything, not even to eat)

I attempted to coax him to eat by telling him it was the only way he could heal. But he didn’t seem to care. At one point however, I think he realized that as long as he ate I would stay longer to feed him. The last couple of days he was feeding himself, but tonight he said he couldn’t. It may be that he was feeling weaker because his hemoglobin count is low. The doctor is planning to give him blood this evening.

This once highly intelligent and reasonable man, is now having hallucinations and paranoia. He believes he will be transformed somehow. The transformation he refers to is more akin to a Star Trek type of transport. Earlier today he told me “I feel the changes already taking place in my body.”

“You have an infection your body is fighting, likely that is what you feel.”
“No, I can feel the change already starting. I feel movement in my body.”

He kept having recurring thoughts that his hospital room mate is “one of them” and is going to kill him when he sleeps. I told him, “Don’t worry, he can’t even walk, he is missing a leg.” No matter, my dad reassured me, “He can still strangle me from his wheel chair.”

Sometimes what he says strikes me as funny and I even inadvertently giggle out loud. Maybe this is how I am coping with an otherwise tragic circumstance. Even in difficult times, there is still humor to be found. Even though in my poor dad’s mind he actually believes this as reality.

Where did my father go? He undoubtedly wonders the same. There are moments he is present and making sense. And then he'll lapse into hallucinating. The doctors say this behavior is a marker for infections. But as the days progress, though he seems to be hallucinating less than when admitted, he still has not rid himself of this.  

Last night, like every night, a similar conversation takes place:

“If  you leave, they will transport me.”
“Where?”
“I don’t know. But as long as you are here, they won’t harm me.”
“I promise you’ll be fine. In the morning you’ll still be here and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“I hope so.”

I kiss him multiple times, tuck him in and say, “Good night dad. I love you.”

And as I walk away I see the child, sad and shaking his head in disappointment, uttering, “I am so disappointed.”

Tonight I did not walk away in tears, as I have the other evenings. I don’t know if it’s exhaustion on my part, or the realization that just as when my daughter was young I had to make decisions that she didn’t understand, so too now, I must do the same. However, no matter how one rationalizes it, it is never easy to disappoint a child, or a parent.

Ella Venezia

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