I’d like to tell you a story about my dad. You see, he passed away 13 years ago this month. In my eyes he was a great man. A skyscraper in a village of cottages. I always said he walked on water. But I’m reminded of him this month not because it happens to be an anniversary of his death, but rather because I went to Dunkin Donuts this weekend and ordered an iced tea. You always get a straw with iced teas. Oddly enough, it was the straw that reminded me of him .
My dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer that I was sure with all of my heart and soul we were going to beat. Of course, he was the type of man that never wanted to burden anyone with his issues (and this IS a difficult thing to digest), so he never did say the C word, but we all knew that’s what it was. The normal protocol ensued and he went through rounds of chemotherapy and then surgery and then more chemotherapy. Shortly into his chemo regiment, he began to study the effects it was having on his body. The one description that still sticks with me is the way his mouth felt. His throat hurt and there were sores in his mouth and he always had a metallic taste in his mouth.
As a result, he began to develop an affinity for two things: spearmint Life Savers and the straws from Dunkin Donuts. Well, the Spearmint Life Savers helped to alleviate the metallic taste in his mouth and overshadowed anything that he tried to eat
he always said that it tasted like he was eating coins and nails. Consequently, today I somewhat get that between the throwing up in the taste in one’s mouth why somebody undergoing chemotherapy would never want to eat. My dad developed a strategy for getting something into his body and that something happened to be milk shakes and the strategy was using straws. Not everybody had the right straws, though. Two magic
al places did: Dunkin Donuts and Burger King. Next time you go to one of those two places, notice that the straws are rounder than most; not thicker, but rounder. The diamet
er across the straw allows for more of the yummy goodness to get into your mouth and down your throat. of course, as I said, my dad’s choice of what went into his mouth and down his throat was always a milk shake, preferably chocolate. They were cold, ice cream was his favorite, and they soothed his throat and mouth.
Yes, it was sweet moments like this that assuaged the anger that I felt toward cancer, toward my life circumstances at the time and toward God. At the time, I couldn’t figure out why this great Man had eventually become riddled with cancer and passed away.
I wish I could say that I handled this with grace and poise. But I can definitely tell you that I handled it with love until the moment of his death. It was after his death that I fell into a depression fueled by my anger, my, and my feelings of betrayal. None of my questions were being answered: Who is going to teach my children the same things that I had learned from my dad? Who was going to teach them patience? Heck, who was going to teach them how to use power tools and encourage them in anything they did?
So why do I write this on a health and wellness blog? Well (1) I feel like talking about my dad because he was such a great man, and (2) I came to realize that by accepting life as it was, I gained a sense of peace. I learned that just by living I would be teaching my children my dad’s patience because he taught me. I would be teaching my children all of the things that my dad taught me: life lessons, phrases, family stories, fishing. I learned that instead of fighting what life has given me, I could accept it and work with it and learn from it. I learned that acceptance doesn’t mean I don’t care. Instead acceptance means I do care about you and about me; and by accepting the circumstances, I can identify if changes can even be made. By practicing acceptance, I’m not giving up the fight I am only first accepting what is and seeing things more clearly.
I apply this in my daily life with my family and work and in other relationships. It doesn’t happen naturally. It is something that needs to be worked but the longer I do it the easier it gets and the less stress I feel about situations that I cannot control.