Friday, March 16, 2012

"I Hear Footsteps"

Will I ever get old enough not to miss my father? I am 4 years older than he was when he died of cancer. Shortly after that long and painful ordeal was over, I wrote the following which is in my small book, I Hear Footsteps. Tomorrow is his birthday.----------------------------------------

“My Father was very ill. For months he had been passing blood. He had a cough he could not shake. The once toughened skin had the yellowish, clammy pallor of a cancer patient in the last stages. IVs were attached to both arms for the transport of nourishment, blood transfusions, and pain medication.

“I read to him from the Bible. ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you….’ Unable or unwilling to accept fully what I knew in my heart to be true, numbed somewhat to the whole experience; I was unwilling to confront the obvious.

“I went about my care giving life acting as if I thought I could make a difference; as if my love, my caring, would stem the tide of the ravages of cancer on my father’s body. This day, this attitude was held in spite of the realization of the gravity of the situation only a few weeks ago.

“After seeing the cancer specialist in the finest cancer hospital, my Father had turned to me and said, ‘Marv, they have just messed around and let this stuff eat me up, haven’t they?’

“I could not lie. When the report was given, I had been there. Trying my very best to control the quiver in my voice, trying my best not to cry, I summoned all my courage and said, ‘Yes, Daddy, I think they have.’ We never talked about it again.

“This one night later was another day of the waiting game, making sure the nurses gave him the morphine at the prescribed intervals to keep down the horrible pain. I needed to go run. To get away, to push myself, to exert myself, somehow soothing my own pain. He understood. As I dressed to go run around the hospital parking lot a few times, my Father talked to me about my running. He had never really thought very highly of my running before. Somehow though, as his illness became more severe, he had begun to try to understand and appreciate my commitment. As I opened the hospital room door to leave, he stopped me with, ‘Marv?’

“He looked at me and smiled across the dim lighted room, across the tubes, the machines, the bags and bedpans, across the generations and across the personal differences that had often separated us. Grinning a familiar grin that I will never forget, he said,

“‘If you hear footsteps coming up behind you, just look around and it will be me, running behind you.’

“‘Oh, Daddy, I wish it were,’ I replied and left quickly to cry out of his sight.”

Many years later now, I do hear the footsteps. He is running behind me. I cannot let him or others like him down. Yes, I am called and yes, I am driven by the footsteps that I hear in my heart. ------------------------------

Happy Birthday Daddy.