Greeting St Joseph and all dads

Today is St Joseph’s day and we prayed for all fathers this morning.

Got me thinking about my own dad. Not a teach-your-child-carpentry kind of dad. Carpentry or DIY was not one of dad’s gifts. But he did teach me how to do the cryptic crossword in the Scotsman and was even known to phone at 7am to ask if I’d finished it and did I know what 3 Down was. He also taught me how to hold my drink, which was terribly important in my hedonistic youth. He taught me the importance of good communication in business and how to mix with people from all sorts of backgrounds. He passed on his ear for music and his wide feet and curly hair.

Now that he has vascular dementia he teaches me patience. He teaches me the Sacrament of the Present Moment. For when I visit now, there is no exuberant conversation from him, no jokes, no plans for the future – just silence. No chats, no questions, no enquiries on how we’re doing, no news from the rest of the family. Of course I can ask those questions but there is really no point for he can’t remember and gets a bit anxious. So it is all a bit one-sided as I tell him what we’ve been up to, give him all our news and then we sit back in companiable silence. We enjoy each other’s presence and enjoy that moment. We have a smoke and we watch whatever is on the loud TV in the smoking lounge. Sometimes I pick up his Scotsman and we have a go at the crossword. Sometimes he even gets the answers to the clues for the cryptic part of his brain still seems to work. But mostly we just sit.

One great thing about growing old is that nothing is going to lead to anything. Everything is of the moment.

Joseph Campbell


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7 thoughts on “Greeting St Joseph and all dads

  1. One of my fondest in fact probably one of my last memories of Dad, is the wonderful smile as he realised it was me coming in the door of his room at the nursing home, it lit up his whole face. Just lovely!

  2. Yes, my dad still manages a lovely smile of recognition when I waken him up from the doze in the chair. “Hello darling” he’ll say and I’m never very sure if he knows which ‘darling’ I am, but never mind.

  3. Mine died when I was twenty two. We never had a chance to see if we could form a proper adult relationship of mutual liking. It took me thirty years after that for me to come to appreciate what he had given me – an appreciation that all people are people, and that most certainly being black or white, gay or straight, did not matter a hoot. And that the moment one sees an injustice, one starts fighting it.

  4. My mum is almost in the same state . she can still converse but is almost immobile and forgets what she’s just asked you or you’ve just told her. 93 years old. Driving poor Dad (95 but still mentally and physically sopund) round the bend. I find it very trying for a short time but he has it all and every day. Too stubborn to have any help either. I appreciated your words and your Dad looks lovely.

  5. Sadly my dad died 9 years ago when he was 71 years old, too young to have died but I had enjoyed 10 years of memories with him after Mum died and we made every opportunity count. Even so, I still wish I had done more for him, been nicer, said more times I love him. I am glad you do have that together time with your dad xx

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