Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Monday, September 21, 2009

One Step at a Time

I'm headed back to Arizona again this week. I had not planned to go back so soon, not until the holidays, but some things have come up and I need to go.

The road is long and stretches out far ahead of you, but you never know what's around the next curve. I have said it before, life is an ultra, and sometimes you find yourself looking at this:

But there's always a way to climb over it.

I wrote earlier about how I'm looking forward to going part-time at my job, I've felt fatigued and it's been affecting my entire life. I got the news last week that my dad is facing some health challenges and I'm going to Arizona to support him and my stepmom. Dad has a type of chronic leukemia and he's most likely had it for some time, but just found out.

I always wondered why he got so many colds. He takes good care of himself, eats well, exercises frequently, works out with a personal trainer and runs about 30-40 miles a week on his treadmill, and is a young 67, just started a new business, and has more energy than I have most days.

What's scary about this is that he's vulnerable to infections. That's what worries me most, being the ICU nurse who sees all the septic patients who come through. I'm scared he'll end up in a hospital.

He's going to have to make some lifestyle changes, mostly with regards to stress reduction.

We could all learn from that.

People reach a point where they realize their parents are aging, and my dad has always seemed so young to me. I've thought about it before, but always brushed it aside. Now it's like a giant cliff that can be scaled but needs to be approached cautiously, and there's always the danger of falling, or losing ground in the sand.

Last week I made the mistake of going to work after getting this news, and not having time to process it. It was the day from hell. It was almost traumatizing to be there, ICU is not the place you want to be when you're trying deal with your own personal life-and-death issues! I ended up taking the next two days off, and I've been running trails in the foothills trying to sort through my thoughts and feelings.

My dad has always been there for me, even in my worst moments, someone to admire and look up to, someone who believes in what he is doing and works hard and spent years building the business he was so proud of. It wasn't always easy and we didn't always agree, but he never let me down. We have a lot in common, we are both driven, high energy, focused people. He's improved with age, become more sensitive, more empathetic, more aware of the value of differences between people. My stepmom has been a positive influence on his life and all of us.

I didn't know about this when I asked to cut my work hours back, but now I'm glad I did and I intend to use the time to make more frequent trips to Phoenix, regardless of my dad's health status, which I feel will take a positive turn as he takes steps to manage it. Knowledge is power.

It's an odd feeling, knowing this, like running through sand. Somehow it gives you strength, even though the footing isn't secure. Life is short, we are all mortal, love while you're here, give thanks for all of the gifts in your life, learn to recognize the gifts. Be kind at every opportunity, and forgive yourself when you're less than perfect, because none of us are perfect.

Keep moving forward, and you'll find a way over the cliff and down the other side, where the road resumes. I am reminded of the quote on the back of the Badwater 2003 race t-shirt.

"as I have always held it a crime to anticipate evils, I will believe it a good comfortable road until I am compelled to believe differently"
-Meriwether Lewis, May 26, 1805


JeffO said...

So sorry to hear about your dad. I hope the other parts of your life simmer down and let you deal with this and help out.
Yep, life is an ultra. Life is pain. It's not what happens but how we deal with it. That's what I always say. I guess that's how I reconcile why God allows bad things.
I have a Buddhist friend who believes that everything happens for a reason. Karma. I disagree. I believe that events and "reasons" are separate. It's up to each of us to put meaning into whatever happens. If it was karma, we'd be more like spectators. I think we need to work at doing the right things to build the right meanings to whatever happens.
It sure is nice to have good family. I hope you enjoy visiting in Arizona.

Alene Gone Bad said...

Jeff: It's up to each of us to put meaning into whatever happens. If it was karma, we'd be more like spectators. I think we need to work at doing the right things to build the right meanings to whatever happens.

I think that's awesome, Jeff. Everything means something different to each individual. What is bad to one person is a gift to another. It's all in how you approach it, and the more you accept something and believe in finding a way through it, the more likely you'll succeed despite tough circumstances.