My dad reads every medical journal there is. He knows everything. The other day he says, “Paul, you know, most strokes happen on the toilet.” What am I supposed to do with this information? Go in the yard?
I have a better relationship with my dad now than I ever had. For years I carried around resentment about something my dad yelled when I was eleven, “You’ll never amount to anything.” I had failed to sweep the floor properly. My dad had a janitorial job at night and he took his seven sons to help out. I remember thinking, “I will never be doing this grunt work, I will never be like you.”
I worked to be nothing like him, and I’m just like him. Rarely do I allow myself to enjoy leisure, enjoy a movie, enjoy watching a ball game without having to being doing something productive along with it. I always feel behind. Sunsets are mere disappointments showing me the day is over and I haven’t gotten enough done.
Years ago I want back to the building we used to clean. This was when everyone was getting in touch with their inner child. I went there to forgive my dad. As I stood there outside by a window, I realized that I was the one who had been so hard on myself all these years and so critical of my dad. I had been carrying this around with me for twenty years. It wasn’t about forgiving my dad. He yelled at me that night and at other times, but for twenty years I made him wrong, I made him stupid. Worse I made myself go about each day as if I had to prove something, I had to produce.
Over the years I have acquired a lot more respect for my dad. I see him as Bobby Knight, a guy with intensity who sometimes went too far, but that’s only because of his passion for life. The more esteem I have for my dad, the more esteem I have for myself. As I get older I am acquiring much more appreciation. I can have compassion for myself, my father and everyone in this life trying to make the best of it, even republicans. (I’ve come a long way)
I may not feel I accomplished enough today, I rarely do, but I don’t want that to be reason for me not to seek joy, not to say everything is happening just as it should be. I’m right here for me, I always will be.
As I get older life gets worse but I appreciate it more. When I get a headache, it’s never just a headache – I’m thinking tumor! This is it, I’m toast. But I also appreciate so much more. Little things like going to the bathroom. It used to slow up my day, now if I have a bowel movement it makes my day! I’m on the toilet five minutes ahead of time. Afterwards I celebrate. I call home, “Hey, Pop, it’s Paul. I’m regular! Yeah, it’s the right color. And I didn’t have a stroke.”
It’s the little victories that count.