There reaches a point where you no longer see the dad of your teen years. The dad who would ground you is gone. The physically strong father has transformed into something even stronger – maybe not in body but in mind and soul.
And the energy between you and them have shifted. The nurturer becomes the nurtured.
A few years ago, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. While the first few years weren’t too horrible, the last couple have been heartbreaking.
Watching my dad’s health on its roller coaster trajectory has opened my eyes to the reality of this part of life: he’s aging and our time together is limited. Our interactions are different than the way we interacted twenty years ago.
So much has changed.
Now, knowing how Parkinson’s works, my dad may live with the disease for the next 10 to 15 years – or longer. It’s not a death sentence. But the disease won’t regress. We won’t grow any younger. Even I don’t have the same energy from twenty or twenty-five years ago. Our new normal is a middle-aged daughter and an aging dad.
Being a pastor, I see congregants age and fellow Generation X members, not to mention friends, losing parents all of the time. My heart breaks because I know I’ll lose my parents someday in the future, and that makes me sad.
I try to cherish every hug and “I love you” while I have them around.
So on this Father’s Day, while mom and dad are still around, I want to tell you here, in public, how much I love you both. Thank you for your love, your guidance, your support and resources – especially when heading into the ministry. Thank you for all of the trips we took to visit seminaries and for all the trips back to Florida to prepare for ordination. Thank you for allowing me the two a.m. phone calls when I was worried about something or another. Thank you for caring for me after my wisdom teeth, colonoscopy and laparoscopic procedures. Thank you for reading me stories as a child and reading over my writings (for editing) as an adult. Thank you for teaching me and, occasionally, being open to learning from me.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing between us, and I’m truly sorry for the moodiness at 14 and moments of frustration over the past 42 years. Overall, I think we survived pretty well. For the two of you, I’m always grateful and blessed.