I came home from England suffering with severe ear pain. Last Tuesday I finally went to the ear doctor who lanced my left eardrum to release the fluid that had collected behind it. Although the pain was significantly reduced almost instantly, my ear continued to drain for nearly 18 hours and I am still completely deaf in that ear.
Because I can't 'fix' it, try as I might, I decided to look for the lesson here. Meditating kept bringing me back around to the same notion: it is time for me to stop hearing so that I can listen. Had I come home from my trip in perfect physical health, I would have hurtled myself headlong back into the busy life I have, cooking, cleaning, writing, working, caring for others, planning activities and events, and not taking the time to stop and recognize something else I can't 'fix' - my father's days are numbered.
While I know he's fading quickly and he knows it, too, we have yet to say it out loud to each other. I was content to let him tell me what he wants me to hear and believe that it is because I'm letting him have his dignity and control instead of because I don't want to acknowledge the truth in his presence. While I spoke to Bubba about setting up hospice care for him, I was too shy to broach the subject with my father.
I'm listening. Thursday morning I called my father's wife to talk to her about hospice, to encourage her to look into it and see what relief it can provide to both of them. No answer.
Friday morning, frustrated with my continued inability to hear at all out of my left ear, I phoned the doctor to seek advice. Is there anything else I can do to speed up my recovery? Sorry, the doctor is out of town until Monday.
No accidents. This morning, my father's wife called to say that last week, the doctor referred them to hospice. Thursday morning when I called, they were meeting with the hospice nurse 'just to see what it would be like.' Dad dismissed the idea. He's not ready. He can't go there.
This afternoon I called Dad to tell him that I wanted to understand why he won't accept hospice care. I asked him to imagine giving up the management of his own pain medications. I asked him to imagine what it would be like if his body didn't hurt all the time. If he had energy enough to do something fun. Something he wanted to do before he died. My youngest wants to finger paint with him. My oldest wants to have scooter races (his electric, hers not so much) in the park. I asked him to imagine what it would feel like to let himself be taken care of.
My father; strong, independent, stubborn. This is the hardest part, but maybe if he does it for all of us it will be easier.
Did I mention that my father is deaf in his left ear? Has been my whole life.