Monday, June 7, 2010

Routine Maintenance

Twelve days ago my dad was joking on the phone about his upcoming gallbladder extraction and the importance of jettisoning parts off the side of a sinking ship. Twenty-five pounds and four nights in the hospital later, he is still twinkle-eyed although the laughter around the house has a serious undertone. Everyone is aware that the tentative moments in ICU nearly changed the end of this story. I was in Disneyland for the most grim days and burst back in the door with three kids and some dance music as he was contemplating solid foods and walking around.

“It is amazing how 120 pounds of kid can change a morgue into a party,” he said, smiling.
“Glad you feel that way,” I responded in between threats as to what would happen if Sis squeezed the baby one more time. “She screams every time you do that! You need to listen to her! Take two giant steps back or else.”
I turned up the music before the retort.

On the last night of my visit we sat in the semi-dark discussing the ailments and pending procedures that are part of mid-life, even for those who like to ride their bikes and eat whole grains. “Dad, it sounds like you are in that awkward phase of routine maintenance that hits somewhere around 90 thousand miles. And the question is always the same: do I go ahead with expensive repairs or start shopping around for something new?” My mom laughed out loud, so I kept on with my irreverent word picture. “Out of warranty but not yet a classic. It is a tough spot.” Insolence is one of my unspoken family roles, but even as I sat there making light of a scary situation I prayed and prayed that my dad would live to be 100. I wanted to cite for God, as if he did not know, all the things that my Dad has been doing that are making a difference with the least of these. But I thought better of it, remembering other amazing souls in our circle that are fighting to stay a little longer or are already home. When it comes to the big ‘Whys’ there is no point evoking logic. So I just prayed. Prayers of thanks and prayers for healthy days.

“You did it: you changed wild lament into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band and decking me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song;
I can’t keep quiet about you.
God, my God, I can’t thank you enough.
Psalm 30:11-12 (Msg)

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