My fondest memory as a child was wrapping myself up in my daddy's big grey woollen cardie in the boot section of our holden wagon and lay there while the road rocked me to sleep as we were driving.
I always felt safe in that grey jacket, it smelt of my daddy, a big strong man who wasn't home all the time due to being on site for 15 hours a day, trying to feed his family. He was often mad, driven by his tiredness, lashed out at the worst times and may not have been a father fairy tales are made of but he did his best, in his strong, stubborn and proud German way.
We were bought up to ask questions, listen to our elders, and respect each other. Sadly the respect thing as by passed some of my siblings with age and instead of questioning they form opinions without listening to any others. I can often see the hurt in my dad's eye's....I can see him thinking over, what the hell happened to my family? When did we lose our connection?
My father's way's and word's have always been law. He spoke, you listened and followed. That's the way it was. He is the head of the family and being European, well that's just the way family roles.
Over the last few year's Ive notice my dad's sparkle and light in his eye's fade. The lust for life he once had was diminishing. The strong, solid man had turned into an old miserable, sickly man, riddled with illness, a bad heart, diabetes's (insulin dependant), asbestosis and the beginnings of emphysema setting in were starting to take a toll on him. Ive taken him to quiet a few appointments to specialist's in Melbourne over this time. Sometimes the news has been good, other times Ive walked out of the room trying my arse out not to shed a tear.
Last Thursday, dad asked me to help him.
Last Thursday his heart specialist in Melbourne told him he has to lose weight to get the new valve in his heart replaced. He is to high risk to be operated on atm with his weight and pressure on his heart due to his large stomach. I sat there, in the office watching and listening to my dad making excuses, the same ones I used 17 months ago. I made eye contact with the Doctor and spoke
Dad I'll help you
My mum of course shot me a look. How dare I step on her domain...she's cared and feed my father since they were 21....and yes mum you did a wonderful job BUT LOOK AT YOUR HUSBAND he's dying painfully. Stop with the - we starved in the war so we eat everything..the war was 70 years ago...move on. Enough already!!!
Driving the 3 hours home, through peek hour traffic, in the rain was smashing down around us my dad, my big strong dad asked me what he needs to do because he wants to live, he wants to not be like this anymore.
At that moment I wanted to grab that grey cardigan and wrap my dad up in it. To let him feel comfort and to feel safe. This was my moment to give back, to help him and guide him.
By the time I dropped them off back at their home, I had told dad about the good and bad carb's...that to many apples aren't good for you and that processed shit (eg premade frozen easy meals) are full of crap and no matter how 'easy' they seem they are bad! He told me he would get fresh fruit and veggies in the morning, prep his fridge with grated raw carrot, beetroot, cut tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and shredded lettuce so he can have veggie mountain breed wraps for lunch from now on. He would stop eating pasta in the abundance he had and replace it with lettuce. He even suggested that he may look into getting into the pool at the local gym but I wont get to excited about that just yet. I'll give him a few weeks and if he hasn't done it, I'll be organising one for him.
It felt good to be able to educate him on good, clean eating. What he thought was good, wasn't bad...god it was a shit load better then what it was when we were growing up but it needed a ruffle up big time. He asked me question's and I answered them truthfully in exactly the same fashion he and mum did for us as kids.
Let's face it, none of us want anything to happen to our parent's. Death is just something I cant comprehend full stop. If I can find away to help, god help me if it takes for me to shake the living shit out of them, then so be it.
I have four beautiful children, all of whom love my parent's hole hearted. Mateauz my youngest has a very special bond with his Opa..shit he even had to buy his 'opa' a matching hat to his cause he loves him so much. I want my parents, my dad to see them grow up to be young people. To be part of their lives for a long time yet.
So dad I'm going to stick on your arse. I'm going to nag you about your food, come to your house through the week to get you up off your bum and at least walking cause I don't want to wear that grey wool cardie you gave me and cry wishing I had done something more so you'd still be here.