Lessons Learned From My Father’s Illness (Part 1)

I’ve learned a few lessons this year from my father’s illness.  Unfortunately, I can’t fit them all into one blog, so I’ll have to finish up tomorrow.

Lesson #1:  Always get a second opinion.
My parents are from a generation that doesn’t question doctors.  But when you’re life is on the line, you really need to get a second opinion.  As they say, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and when it comes to your health, it pays to be the squeaky wheel.  (It also doesn’t hurt to educate yourself.  Sure, you can’t believe everything you read online, but Web MD is pretty handy to have around.)

Lesson #2:  Trust your own body, as well as your instincts.
Yes, doctors and medical professionals provide vital expertise.  But there are times when you just need to listen to your own body.  Is the medicine you are taking making you sick?  Are your instincts telling you that you need to try a different treatment?  Then listen, and act on your instincts.

Lesson #3:  Never give up.
When I visited my father over Christmas, he told me point blank, “I just want you to know that I’m not giving up.”  He continues to ride an old stationary bike, even when it hurts.  He’s started playing the piano again.  And he dreams of golfing this summer.  He’s always told me that it’s mind over matter.  Now he gets to live out his own words.  

Lesson #4:  Keep your sense of humor.
Illness can make everyone cranky.  And if you know my father, he can give Grumpy Old Men a new meaning.  But he continues to laugh.  He teases the grandkids and calls them by his pet nicknames.  We laugh about his newfound admiration for my mother’s driving (she’s the only wheels he has)!  And we laugh through our tears about how he needs her help in the bathroom – like when I was a little girl and yelled for her when I was finished going “potty.”  I’m just thankful he keeps laughing. 

Lesson # 5:  The glass is always half full.
My father’s feisty spirit has become more enduring than ever, and my parents have gained my admiration as I’ve watched them enter a new stage of life with grace and dignity. Tomorrow will be better.  There is always hope.  God is in control of our ultimate destiny.   Hope is a beautiful thing.

I'm an author who writes about the working mom's struggle to live out an authentic Christian faith in a complex and fast-paced world. I live in constant need of grace, caffeine, and technology -- usually in that order.
  • Alison

    The lessons you are learning are beautiful gifts that you always carry with you in your life. God doesn't guarantee us an easy journey in this world, but does promise to be our strength and guide. Seeing the lessons throughout our tough times is what he wants us to do. I kind of see it as a character test.

    I've moved through some very difficult times in my life surrounding illness and death and could go on and on about what I've learned. But I'll simply say I'm better for it and am grateful that God thinks I can handle the tough stuff.