Skating Toward Self Control from ‘Shoes For The Spirit, Inspirations'
‘Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure, lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.’ Philippians 4:8
My father and I were connected at the hip from the time he first held me in his arms to the day I gave him my last kiss. If he told the story of my birth once, he must have told it a thousand times to anyone who would listen. How the nurse brought me out of the delivery room, wrapped in a little pink blanket and carefully placed me in my father’s outstretched arms.
“Congratulations, Mr. Hampton…you have a baby girl!”
“Now, don’t tease me, because this is not a bit funny.”
He’d explain, with a serious and concerned face: “I’ve been waiting for a little girl my whole life and you’d better not be kidding me.”
“No sir, no joking here. This is your little girl.”
Dad would hold out his arms just like he must have done a half century ago, a look of wonder and excitement on his face. He’d then mimic taking me in his arms, and then quickly hand me back to the nurse. “Take her now; I sure don’t want to drop her!”
One of my earliest memories of my father was skating on a lake, on a small property my parents owned in the country. The Lost Sixty, as they fondly called it, was no luxury resort…more like a few wooded acres with a small travel trailer parked on a hill, overlooking a pond. But in the winter, it froze over and my dad would take me out on the pond in my ankle high, red rubber boots and we’d skate around that frozen wonderland like it was the Olympics in Salt Lake City. We’d spin and twirl and Dad would clap with exuberance at my childish antics.
I have vivid memories of him coming in the house after a long day of work at the tool and dye factory, and me leaping into his arms with glee as he laughed that big belly laugh of his and swung me through the air. My personal flying trapeze. The best part of my day was the moment Dad came through that door.
We’d find any excuse at all to take a walk together, or get on his beautiful Honda Gold Wing touring bike for a ride through the country. Many times we’d find ourselves in Paducah, Kentucky having been on the bike for a couple hours, and predictably parked in front of the ‘Fish and Chips’ restaurant. We’d always order our favorite; fried catfish and hush puppies with a big glass of iced tea.
And these are the thoughts I fix my mind upon, now that Dad is gone. It was incredibly difficult to watch him get old. Such a vibrant active man, he always had a joke to tell and a funny way of looking at life. I could barely stand to see his body bent over by the deteriorating effects of osteoporosis, and the once whip-sharp mind altered by the relentless pursuit of Alzheimer’s disease.
During this season of change and aging, Dad and I had a few cross words. He never seemed to be happy with his surroundings, always looking to move and I just wanted him to settle in and find contentment. We argued from time to time and I said some things to him I can’t forget. That’s the trouble with spoken words; they come back to haunt us.
He came to stay with us in Florida for six weeks over the Christmas and New Year Holiday and during that time we were able to do some of his favorite things. We ate breakfast at Mel’s Diner- the biscuits and gravy were always calling his name. We took long rides in my little red car, the faster the better. We sat outside and watched the pelicans dive in the bay, hungry for their daily meal. But most of all, we talked about all the wonderful people we’d known over the years and the many adventures we’d experienced in life together. Dad had no problem with the past…it was the present that threw him.
He couldn’t remember how to turn on the light switch, or the water faucet in the bathroom, couldn’t recall how to find his way to the kitchen table, or back to his bedroom at the end of the day. He’d lose his wallet and accuse me of stealing it, which of course I’d never do. But, that’s one of the sad and hurtful issues of Alzheimer’s. It slowly steals away the person you’ve known and replaces them with a stranger.
Dad took a fall in the early morning hours attempting to find the bathroom and broke his hip. We ambulanced him to the hospital and got him settled into a private room while he awaited hip replacement surgery. I sat next to Dad’s bed, holding his hand and listened as he spoke of years gone by, and as he laughed at silly stories he loved to remember. I stood to leave and as I did, I leaned forward and gave him a kiss on those withered lips. He smiled his great big funny smile and said, “You’re the best daughter a fella could ever have!” That was Dad’s last lucid moment, and my last memory of my father.
And now that Dad is gone my natural inclination is to return to those painful words I spoke in haste, and relive angry moments between us, berating myself for each one of them. Why is it we can always remember our failures, but so easily forget our victories?
‘Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right, Think about things that are pure, lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.’ And this is what I choose to do. I choose to laugh rather than to cry, to rejoice rather than mourn, and to be thankful for every wonderful picture that still lingers in my memory. This takes a strong measure of self control to order my thoughts in a lovely and admirable way, but so worth the task.
Today my thoughts are fixed on those little red rubber boots and me, skating across the Lost Sixty pond, the darling of my father’s heart.
- Tamra Nashman
- Florida, United States
- I'm a mother of two children, an inspirational and motivational Author and Minister. My greatest joy is to see people gain new insight and understanding about the amazing possibilities that life holds when we put put our faith to action. 'Shoes For The Spirit, is a book filled with real-life stories of people who have walked through great difficulty and have found the right pair of shoes for their personal journey. Whether or not you are a person of faith, there is something uplifting, guiding and compelling in this little book, for everyone. The accompanying CD, 'Songs For the Soul,' is a compliation of original orchestrated tunes, with voice-over verse layered on top of the music. This CD has great encouragement for all who take the time to listen. I hope all of you bloggers will read the new sequel to 'Shoes For The Spirit,' listed in the blog posts below, and if you're so inclined, will purchase my book and CD. You won't be sorry! Be blessed. Love, Tamra
- ► 2008 (11)