Friday, May 22, 2009

On Being a Parent

I talked to a man today who I would describe as "the salt of the earth". Simple, kind, has a great testimony, but carries around a lot of guilt. His son died six years ago from a tumor in his pituitary gland. It stunted the boy's growth and created all kinds of problems. He described his son as "childlike". He said that after his son graduated from high school he worked at a local thrift store where he had several different supervisors. Unfortunately, instead of having a great experience, which we all would hope that he would have, he instead, got regularly chewed out for being forgetful and always complaining of having a lot of headaches. His father was called on a regular basis to pick him up and take him home. Eventually the powers that be wouldn't let him work there anymore. His father, being a very kind man, always tried to smooth things over in hopes that they would let his son stay on. However, upon occasion he had to rise up and advocate strongly for his son, much to the chagrin of the establishment. On those occasions, he always made a point of speaking loud enough for his son to hear him. Unfortunately on the medical end, they also had their challenges. They spent a lot of their time and money on trying to get treatment for their son. They trusted their doctors completely, only to discover that certain decisions were made for them, like ending certain treatments and eventually removing the feeding tube when he was no longer responsive.
All these years later he still feels guilty for being too trusting of the doctors and not forceful enough to help his son.I asked him, "If your son were here instead of me, what would he say to you right now? He said, "He would probably cuss me out for not trying harder." I think he would probably say, "I love you Dad for being there with me all those years. For loving me, spending time with me, and for always being the kind and gentle person that you are."
I think that as parents we never feel like we've done enough. Their pain is our pain and if they die before us it feels unnatural and wrong. Our children mean everything to us and no matter how much we love them, it can never make up for the loss and the pain when they are gone. Being a parent, more than any other experience in life exposes you to the deepest love and joy and the deepest pain and fear. Of all the things I've done in my life I am most proud of my kids. They complete me.

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