Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tables Turned

- By Stephanie Hickey -

I am forever barred from ever accompanying my father on another one of his doctor’s appointments. Before I explain why, let me explain that from the time I was two, my parents have been taking extra care of me because I was a child with a disability. They attended every doctor’s appointment, therapy session and were always by side to ensure that I followed my therapists and doctors’ orders to the letter. And their constant nagging frustrated and infuriated me to no end!

Let me tell you all about my father. Joseph (I will not reveal his middle name on the internet because he really will kill me) Hickey had worked from the age of sixteen. And from that age through the next thirty-eight years on, he always did hard physical labor. My father worked in the hottest or coldest temperatures, was the first one to arrive and the last to leave. And he took pride that he was a man who worked hard to provide for his family. As someone born in the fifties, my father has the-male-provides-for-family mentality ingrained in his bones, along with an I-must-suffer-in-silence mentality. After working those sixteen hour days in the harshest conditions, Daddy would be there at the hospital when I woke up. He would sit and watch Foghorn Leghorn cartoons (doing impressions of Foghorn to make me laugh) and eat green jello with me.

Now, at his age, and after all those years of physically punishing his body, he cannot work any longer. And Daddy is starting to need taking care of. Having Cerebral Palsy, I worry about my parents aging--their bodies and health deteriorating--because I do not have the strength to care for them. But my going to his doctor’s showed me that I can care for my parents.

My father did not want me to go with him, but my mother asked me to, because we both knew he would down-play his condition. I convinced my father to let me tag-along by promising to be a good girl and stay quiet. I made this promise with the knowledge that once my dad and I were back there, I could relay to his physician all of the symptoms my father wanted to ignore and my father would not say anything to me because we were not alone.

This is just what I did. While Daddy just muttered, “Oh I only feel a little…”, disregarding his symptoms, I let him go on, but I spoke up adding, “Actually, Dr. Blank, my daddy has been feeling more…more…and more…” And while I said all this, Daddy glared at me with a “just-wait-‘til-we-get-home” look.

I delighted in Daddy’s reaction, because he now knew that it isn’t all that fun to have someone interfering in your medical treatment, even if it is someone who loves you. It made me laugh, remembering all those years he has been nipping at my back nagging that I walk heel-toe, heel-toe and asking, “Did you do your exercises today?” It also made me realize that even if I don’t have the physical capability to care for my parents, I still can ensure they get the best care. And don’t worry daddy, I know that you are still a far, far way away from that.