Not very long ago I was part of a conversation in which people said they dislike the idea of paying for other people’s mistakes and bad choices.
It took less than a minute for people to start arguing that healthcare costs are a great example of how good people get stuck for other people’s bad decisions.
Took less than two more minutes for them to say that almost all health issues are because of those bad choices and that they didn’t want to pay.
I shook my head and told them the lack of compassion and common sense was beyond the pale for me.
“Not all illnesses are caused by bad choices or foolishness. Some happen for all sorts of reasons that are beyond the control of the people involved.”
They didn’t like what I said or how I said it and a couple of people went silent, but not all. There were a few who came at me and I gave them hell.
There was no ‘you catch more flies with honey’ here. I didn’t have it in me this time.
The Consequences Of Stupidity
My dad’s face is rough, but not as rough as it once was against mine because I am no longer a boy with the smooth face of a child.
Now my own stubble pushes back against his and as I kiss his cheek the memory of his intentionally rubbing his face against mine comes back.
My own children have been given this same memory by me and even now my daughter will occasionally giggle and tell me enough as I once did.
Somewhere in the midst of the flashback I hear Robert Redford in the end of A River Runs Through It and think how I am not quite old enough for it.
But there are moments where I wonder because I have done quite a bit and lived a life. I have more than a few memories that are mine alone or things I share with just one other.
Moments cultivated and carried forth through enough decades of life for me not to be called a kid anymore but not quite enough to be called old other than by my kids.
The physical therapist shows up to work with my dad and the first thing that jumps out at me is how little weight they are using.
It is an emotional response on my part because it shocks me to see where he is at now. Not very long ago I watched him push some boxes that had some real weight to them.
For years he was always who I measured my own strength against. All those hours in the gym as a kid were for me and for being able to say I could open the damn jar or lift whatever by myself.
Strength was/is part of whatever genetic gift we got so I have always known this to be one thing that would be around in some capacity for my entire life.
But watching the light weights in his hands, well for the first ever I realized that maybe that could change a bit.
The P.T. finished and said he is making good progress and I was happy to hear it. It looked that way to me.
My gut says he can get that arm strength back pretty quickly, but there is a lot more that needs to happen.
One of the guys I am arguing with about healthcare tells me that my liberal mind has made me foolish.
I give him my hardest look and say Trump is the consequence of our collective stupidity.
“You’re not very patriotic are you.”
I shake my head and tell him I am not a fucking idiot, that I am educated and retained my ability to engage in logical thought and critical reasoning.
He sputters something at me but I have already checked out of this conversation.
Not On My Watch
People like to say that bad things won’t happen, can’t happen or will be taken care of because we are around.
“This won’t happen. Not on my watch.”
Well bad things are happening on my watch and I can’t do a damn thing about some of them. I can’t fix dad, can’t heal him, prescribe treatment or do the doctor stuff.
But I can advocate for him and help manage certain things. There are some things I can do.
I made certain promises to him that I will see through because those are things I have some control over and ability to influence.
Dad and I are alone for a few minutes and talking about politics and life.
I tell him how I read something somewhere that said Americans are watching two different movies at the same time.
It is supposed to be an explanation for why we have such diverging opinions about circumstances and I sort of agree with it.
I am not pleased to see how polarized we are or happy to have been a part of some of the discussions I have been involved with but I am not giving up either.
This is a time for picking and choosing our battles. A time to to figure out the best places to focus our energy.
“You know some of the docs have said things that aren’t particularly optimistic in nature. Things that don’t suggest you are going to be having these conversations with me for as long as we might like.”
Dad nods his head and sighs.
“You have more control over that part than you might think. You have fooled them more than once. You can do it again. Keep pushing.”
Dad smiles and nods his head again.
His eyes are bright blue and I can see he is fully engaged. Since his diagnosis and treatment began there have been times where this hasn’t been true.
Times where exhaustion and or medication have knocked him for a loop, but that is not now.
It is reassuring to me. Kind of makes me laugh ‘cuz I am not a kid, but I guess we are never old enough not to appreciate having our parents around.
These aren’t easy times and it would be easy to feel overwhelmed, but I refuse.
I am drawing my line in the sand and holding my ground. It is part of how I maintain some semblance of sanity.
Today there is a victory and that has been enough for now. Later will be different story, but we can deal then.
Now is all we have.