For Thanksgiving my husband, daughter and I traveled to Atlanta to visit my family. I left a couple of days before my husband and daughter because my dad was having back surgery. My dad is 82 years old, and at Easter this year was taking meals to all the “older” folks and home-bound people who couldn’t get about so well. To say that he has aged successfully would be an understatement. But, it doesn’t matter how successfully you have aged, at 82 any surgery is major surgery, and my sister and I were more than a little worried about the potential outcome of Daddy’s surgery.
So on Monday of Thanksgiving week I was at my Daddy’s side, holding his hand in pre-op as he relaxed into a haze of drugs, “Have I told you about my moon goddess?” he asked.
“No” I answered, not exactly sure what I was going to learn.
“Well, when your mama and I were first married and had no money, we would spend our evenings outside, talking and gazing at the moon. Every time I see a big, orange moon I think about those times. I’ve started thinking of her as my moon goddess.”
“Do you miss her?” I asked.
“Yes, I miss her. I don’t pine for her, but quite often I’ll be doing something and I think about how much better it would be with her by my side, or what she would say to this thing or that. I do miss her.”
Several hours later I was feeding him ice chips from a foam cup as he emerged from the drugged haze and struggled to regain his bearings.
“Is it done yet?” he asked confused, “I don’t remember ever seeing the surgeon.”
“It’s done. Apparently everything went well.”
My dad was out of the hospital and into a short-term rehab facility by Thanksgiving. It won’t be long before he is back home, taking meals to the older folks and home-bound people who can’t get around so well. The physical therapy is going very well.
Watching my dad deal with this event has been eye opening. I realize how very important every act of outreach is to him. I see how deeply and fiercely he loved—still loves—my mother, understanding her far better than her children ever could have. I appreciate his amazing ability to tackle something truly daunting, like back surgery at age 82, and do it with amazing success. I understand how, even though he wasn’t gathered around my sister’s dining room table on Thanksgiving, he still was there, because each and every one of us carried a little piece of his heart in ours. I love the way one of his major concerns about his surgery was the care and wellbeing of his Australian Shepherd that he rescued several years ago from a shelter. I love the fact that he rescues animals from shelters.
So as we move from Thanksgiving to Christmas, I am thankful. Thankful for simple things, like tidbits of family stories, a warm bed at a sister’s home, a conversation over a cup of hot chocolate, the big orange moon—especially the big orange moon. I suspect that I owe my existence (at least in part) to that big orange moon.
© 2013 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.