Thursday, October 19, 2006

Growing Into Grown-Up Advice

As some of you may have gleaned from bit and pieces of past posts, I consider my father one of the most incredible, inspiring, and memorable people on earth. I write this with no reliance on hyperbole or cliché. He’s overcome more odds than anyone I know and has faced an array of difficulties and challenges so complicated that even the most inventive fiction writer couldn’t have added more incredulous twists.

As a result, he’s pretty damn wise in matters of the heart and of health—or, more accurately, the constant intersection of those two forces.

When I was growing up, I didn’t always want to hear his advice, and if I didn’t tune him out completely, I’d reach into my arsenal of adolescent zingers and sarcastic quips. As an adult, though, I find that I am the one who seeks out his input and feedback. Part of this shift is basic maturity, I think. But with my father, it’s also the fact that so many of our experiences are similar as a result of our medical histories.

Like most people my age (26), I feel like almost every single aspect of my life is fraught with questions. I suppose this never changes and I will find myself asking just as many questions ten years from now, but all I know in this moment is that questions, not answers, rule:

How much time should I spend teaching other people how to write versus working on my own writing?? Am I doing everything I can to manage my health? Can I afford certain lifestyle choices that make being “stable” more likely? Should we move out of our tiny but efficient condo soon, or stay close to my hospital and where we work for as long as possible? Can I conceive and carry a baby, and if medically I can, how do we navigate all the subsequent risks? Are we prepared for the worst-case scenarios? Are we ready emotionally and financially to abandon the time frame for having children we devised when we got married? At the end of the day, is that really even a choice, because is there ever an “ideal” time, especially when you have to weigh so many competing variables? I could go on and on.....

These aren’t rhetorical for me; in fact, I threw most of them at my father in my typical rapid-fire style just the other day and my husband and I were de-briefing him on a recent medical consult. He took it all in, nodding in earnest at points of higher emotion, mulling over other points over in silence.

“You can’t always get the answers you need to pursue the dreams you have. Sometimes you just have to make a decision that might not make complete sense now and grow into it,” he told us. “It’s a risk, yes, but there are very few certainties in this world.”

He reminded us that when he was our age, he had two toddlers and was stricken with cancer and a muscle disease. He wasn’t able to work and was on disability. And yet he chose that time to take out a mortgage on a house for his growing family.

“Was it a huge risk? Yes. Were the conditions anything but ideal? Yes. Did everyone think I was insane? Yes. It was a terrible time to make such a big decision in terms of my health, but I needed to do that then for us to have a future later,” he said.

It was an extreme example, certainly, but it definitely made his point. No matter what the decision or question is—especially where health is concerned—very rarely will we have all the information and facts we’d like. Sometimes we just have to take action or risks in the present into order to grow into them when it matters most.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi! Don't get mad, but I talk about all of you girls to my mom. I just give updates. (She thought your wedding pics were beautiful btw!) She thinks you and J should just go on vacation and things will take care of themselves. She said not to let everyone drive you crazy. :)

I think your Dad is very wise.


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