October 2-3, Days 92-93 of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014
Remembering My Dads
Today, October 2, would have been my dad’s 89th birthday. My sister sent me a text message with a picture of the two of them at his nursing home back in February when I was visiting him for what would be the last time. Today, as I rode my bike, I thought about my dad and the lessons I learned from him over the years.
I pictured him running behind me, holding my bike seat, as I first pedaled without training wheels. He was there to catch me if I fell. I also pictured our many times skiing together in New York and Vermont when I was a young girl. His most memorable comment I heard often was, “Character develops when you do things you don’t want to do.”
Well, once again, today, I did not want to bicycle. We are approaching the end of our trip and we are both very tired. Cold weather is coming in soon, along with rain on Friday. My dad’s much needed encouragement came to mind today, “Sometimes ‘Deb Deb,’ you have to do things you don’t want to do, and that builds character.” I am so grateful for the memories I have of my dad. Honoring him on his birthday made the miles fly by. Thanks Dad, for teaching me how to ride a bike and holding me up until I could do so on my own.
I have another dad too. Bill has been my stepdad for almost twenty-five years. He and my mom were planning a trip to New England when he was waylaid before getting on the plane. Ever since Sept 12th, he has been in the hospital with pneumonia and other health issues. On Thursday, he was moved to hospice where he passed away on Friday. It is hard to lose two dads in less than a year, but I am blessed with many good memories of the two of them.
My favorite memory of Bill is his kindness and his listening ear. He was so different from my dad, quieter and more serious, and I loved them both for their uniqueness. When I would go to the Cape and spend time with Bill and my mom, we would always go out for coffee ice cream together. He would listen to my latest news on my job, grad school, or whatever I was doing at the time. He was a soft-spoken and very smart man who I loved dearly. Every time I called them, he was the one who always answered the phone with an “Oh hi Deb. I will go get your mom.” I’d say, “Wait a minute Bill, how are YOU doing?” And he would always say “good” despite his declining health. I will treasure my time with my stepdad Bill.
Hope Keeps Us Hanging On
The past few weeks of Bill’s hospitalization and the uncertainty surrounding it made me think a lot about hope. He was very weak and there was talk that he would not make it. Then he had a few good days, with a good appetite, more alertness, and improved breathing. There was renewed hope that he would get better and be out of the hospital soon. After that, things took a turn for the worse, but he bounced back again. When I spoke with my mom, I could hear the hope she had that he was going to get better. However, at age 87, it is hard to bounce back time and again.
There is no immediate service for Bill and I know he would have wanted us to finish this trip, so we’re going to, Lord willing. We’ll make an additional donation to TheHopeLine to honor his life. And I’ll think about him often.
So, with my two dads on my mind as we bicycled through Ohio, we enjoyed another beautiful autumn day, very chilly in the morning only to continue to clear up and warm up throughout the day. We had the privilege of bicycling through Amish country in central Ohio, with few cars on the roads, and a sampling of bountiful gardens and horse-drawn buggies along the way. With the many rolling hills, I felt like we were back in Missouri. We landed in Medina, Ohio, and will take a few rest days before we head out again, revived and rested.
The life lesson that keeps coming to mind, as I reflect on my two dads, is to always express love for your loved ones. My time with my dad back in February was such a gift, because he passed away a month later. Talking to Bill last month on the phone and telling him that I loved him makes me free from regret. I saw a sign on a church marquee a few days ago that read, Tell someone you love them today. This is a good habit to develop each day we are on this beautiful earth.