Today is the next to the last day of the year. It is a time to both look ahead as well as look back over the past. Many of us will set goals for the new year. Some of us will look back at 2012 and assess our progress toward the goals we set this year. We will take stock of the year’s blessings as well as its disappointments.
For me, today was spent doing something I have never had to do before. It was something I never had a thought to needing to do, as 2012 began. And it was difficult and sad and scary, all at once. My sister and I sat by my dad’s bedside and discussed his burial arrangements. As my long time followers know, he is battling cancer. The type he has is incurable. He courageously chose to take chemo in an attempt to extend his months, and I feel like we would have never had him for Christmas if he hadn’t done this. But today, he looked tiny and frail as he lay under layers of blankets and still said he felt chilled. His stomach growls audibly, yet he has no appetite. When he does feel like eating, it’s most likely to be only a few bites of fruit, or some soup or broth. Up until a week or two ago, his attitude was positive and we all liked to imagine that we have years left with him to grace us with his still-so-beautiful smile, or to sing Christmas carols in his strong baritone voice for years to come. This week, he wants to talk about the end being near and what to do when that day arrives.
For a long time, we would divert the conversation topic and move on to happy things, or reminisce about days gone by with loved ones we still hold so dear in our hearts. But today, in that very quiet bedroom, as the Carolina Panthers defeated the New Orleans Saints (with the volume muted as we kept Dad updated on the unfortunate score), my sister and I both knew we needed to let him talk. And we needed to plan. And we needed to give him peace of mind that when that day does come, he knows where he will finally rest. And we all agreed on a place that brought a smile to his face. And that smile – though it stemmed from such an unpleasant decision – was worth one million bucks to my sister and to me. Because he has a peace about it now. He knows he will be surrounded by many people who bear his same last name, who have gone on many years before him and who meant so much to him. And even though we hope it isn’t needed for a long while yet, we are settled about it and can move on from that topic.
As you greet the year 2013, I hope it has only happy things in store for you and your family. As for me, I’d settle for a miracle or two. But no matter what happens, we’ll meet it head-on and together as a family unit. And in the end, through the tears I suspect we’ll sing. A lot. And quite loudly. And we’ll imagine we hear Dad’s voice joining ours as we raise the roof with old gospel songs. And maybe even a Frank Sinatra tune or two.
After all, just like Frank, Dad has always done it his way.