Hearing the frustration in the young woman’s voice as she tried to comfort and reassure her confused, dying father, reminded me of days so many years ago, though the years seem at times like only weeks. She was doing some sort of work on her laptop while her father was lying in bed, confused, trying to get out every few minutes, and interrupting her often.
I couldn’t help but remember back when Dad became confused. I wanted to hug her. I wanted to reassure her. I wanted to tell her that everything is going to be okay.
But that would be a lie. He is going to die. She knows it, and so do I. So, how do I comfort her?
Finally, I just felt the nudge to walk over, stoop over, and whisper to her that I had just 10 years ago lived through this with my Dad. Once I acknowledged her pain, she began to wipe the silent tears that began to fall.
“Some of my most cherished moments with my Dad, are those I spent at the end,” and with that, she closed her laptop, scooted her chair a little closer to her father, took his hand, and began to pray out loud. Much to her amazement and joy, he remembered how to do that, so he joined her.
Me? Oh, I just enjoyed the moment from afar 😉
I couldn’t help that day, to think about a small statue I have on my living room end table. Once given to me for a reason that had nothing to do with my Dad – to me, it actually had everything to do with him.
What do I mean?
Well, you see – My Dad & I shared a love of music – not just any music. We loved Irish and Scottish, Nova Scotia fiddle music! And Dad & I could step dance to any ol’ jig or reel when I was growing up, and in the living room of our 800-square foot house, my sister and I practiced the box step waltz with him when were very, very young. As an Irish dancer when I was in grade school, Dad would often rub my feet in between dances at my competitions. When my son was born, he would step dance with him in the kitchen at Mum’s house. When he could no longer do that, he would “tune” jigs and bounce my son on his knee. To and from his chemotherapy appointments, we would often miss highway exits because we were so, so enjoying the good tunes of Nova Scotia!
Just a week before Dad went to heaven, he became confused when his cancer had spread to his brain. I was not a nurse at the time, and in fact, had not even given thought to a nursing career. But one evening during that week, Dad became very confused and locked himself in the bathroom. After receiving a call from my mom, I came right away, and stood at the door where Dad would not let anyone in.
“Dad, will you come out and dance with me?” I asked. Soon, the lock was let go, the door opened, and my Dad took me in his arms.
And we danced, one last time.
Dad passed away just a week later, and it was about 3 weeks after that, when I decided to apply for nursing school. And several years later, I received this work of art as a Daisy Award on my unit. I can’t remember what the Daisy Foundation says it means. I just remember looking at it, and being reminded of Dad and I – Dancing – one more time. To me, it was God’s way of reassuring and comforting me, that Dad did, in fact, know that I had become a nurse.
For me, it will always be a reminder of that one, last, oh so special waltz with my Dad. And some day, we’ll dance again.