I've been a little misty-eyed for the last week or so, because of my dad's birthday. He's been gone for almost two and half years. I attempted his favorite, lemon meringue pie, again. And, again, the execution of a firm lemon layer elluded my culinary prowess. I believe this is Dad's joke on me.
My Perfect Meringue and Soupy Lemon Pie - Still tastes yummy!
In his honor, I present you with an essay I wrote for our state nursing association publication last year. I hope it gives you a little more carpe for your diem too.
"Today is the first day of the rest of your life"
You've heard it before, right? Not like I just did.
When Dad was admitted into the VA hospital in early January to finally get his surgery, he was so upbeat. He was ecstatic to have a date set and an end to his hematoma, Ralph, (we had named him) in sight.
On the spartan industrial walls of unit 2F (surgical wing) that he stayed in while awaiting surgery were white dry erase boards with permanent marker sketching out:
Your RN is:
Your CNA is:
Anticipated discharge date:
I believe these are called Patient Communications Boards in the private sector. Heck, they could have been called that at the VA as well, except for the fact that no one ever wrote anything on them. Day after day would go by with no updates. Zero communication.
I never saw any patients question it, but I always felt that if it were me sitting in one of those hospital beds, I would feel an ever greater sense of loss of time and normality to have it continually in front of my face.... blank date, blank discharge date, etc.
One day before Dad's surgery, he leapt out of his bed with agility and energy we hadn't seen from him in a few months. He walked over to the blank board on his half of the room and filled in:
Today is: "the first day of the rest of your life."
Days and weeks after Dad had left that room, the words remained. I guess since no one thought to write on them, no one thought to erase them either. But, I would still see them, though, as I would walk past heading to or from another of his rooms later in his time in and out of the ICU. The only day I got to get him out in a wheelchair for a bit, I wheeled him past it on the way back, so he could see it again.
After Dad’s death, I forgot about that. I spent my time reliving the hard parts of the hospital visit; the sad times and pitfalls. I forgot about the 33 good years with him and dwelled on the last few weeks.
During a drive to Richmond, though, I had little thoughts running through my head of little ways to progress, small things I could do to begin digging out from this hole, prayers being answered. Now that I've acted on them, I actually feel pretty good.
A few moments ago, I began preparing for bed. As the thoughts of what I had done today and what was ahead tomorrow passed, I could almost hear Dad's voice clearly say, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life."