What are the words a daddy’s girl most wants to hear?

cherry blossom tree

“Bella, do we have to go around the mall again? It seems like we’ve circled the place a dozen times and I’m starting to get dizzy.”

I sigh impatiently. “Daddy,” I say, “You’re being pushed around in a state of the art wheelchair. You have nothing to complain about!”

Little do I know that today, many years after having heard my father utter those words, the universe is going to allow me to “walk” a mile in his shoes…

The sun shines brightly in a cloudless sky. Birds chirp loudly and the smell of cherry blossoms hangs in the air. A perfect spring day. Perfect except for the fact that instead of racing off to the market as I did seven months ago, I am now struggling to get into a wheelchair.

I hear the Significant Other say, “You can do it. Slide back into the seat.” His words sound encouraging but I sense a tinge of impatience in his voice.

And just like that, I regress in time.

“I’m telling my legs to move but they ain’t listening, baby girl,” daddy replies when I ask him what he’s waiting for to get in his chair.

I tap my fingernails on one of the chair’s handles.
“While we’re young, dad.”

“You young people, always in a hurry. You wait till you get to be my age. You won’t know the meaning of the word hurry. And you’d better pray you never have to use a wheelchair.”

I feel guilt wash over me and quickly apologize.

“It’s okay, queen. I know the kids are waiting.”

Queen.
Daddy’s pet name for me.

“Bella, are you comfortable?” The Significant Other’s deep voice brings me back to the present.

“Just drive,” I say, squealing as he starts to push me down the street.

It’s the first time in two weeks since I’ve been out of the house. Breathing in the cool air, I realize how much I’ve missed being outdoors.

At first, being pushed in a wheelchair seems like a gift from the gods.

No bags to carry.
No sweat to wipe off my brow.
No worrying that my underpants are crawling into places they shouldn’t be crawling.

But then nausea assaults me. I feel it rise quickly as the Significant Other weaves in and out of the narrow cobblestone-lined streets that lead to the market. Trying to stifle the need to hurl, I close my eyes.

I see daddy sitting in his chair.
I can hardly believe that his thin frail body used to be burly and strong.
A powerhouse of a man.
A solider who survived three tours in Vietnam and was awarded a bronze star for his heroic service.
A man who served his country for thirty years and then went back to school to earn a Bachelor’s degree.
A teacher who worked for ten years in the public school system.
A father who once chased one of my sister’s boyfriends down the street with a bat.

Exposure to chemicals like Agent Orange, disease, and old age had taken their toll.
His ability to walk and be self sufficient had been taken from him.
He too had felt powerless.

Feeling my head spin, the blue sky intermingles with the pink blossoms and creates a beautiful kaleidoscope effect.

I try to take a deep breath.
I feel tears well up in my eyes as I realize I have never felt closer to my father.

Do not judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in his or her shoes.
Truer words have never been spoken.

I think of the past weeks and how difficult it has been.
Not being able to stand without crutches.
Not being able to bear my weight on my bad leg.
Struggling to get up from a chair.
Dragging myself with a pulley before I can get out of bed.

Clack, clack, step.
Clack, clack, step.
The sounds my crutches make as I drag myself around the house.

Roxy rouses from her slumber and gives me the stink eye.
I tell her she will never again hear me say that the pitter patter of her claws on the hardwood floor is annoying.

Clack, clack, step.
Clack, clack, step.

I lean my body against the kitchen counter as I try to light the stove.

I look at the clock.
It’s still hours away before the Son and the Significant Other make their way home.

I try to shift my weight.
I gasp.
I almost lose my balance.
I grab on to the plank to steady myself.
I realize I’m exhausted even though I’ve barely done a thing.

As I pour water into the French press, I realize I’m going to have to drink my coffee and eat my toast while standing next to the kitchen sink.
I curl my fingers tight in frustration and grudgingly accept that much as I try, there is no way I’m making it back to the dining room table with a plate and a cup of scalding coffee.
I cover my mouth to stifle the hysterical laughter that threatens to break the silence that rings throughout the house.

Taking things for granted.
Taking our bodies for granted.
Taking our ability to walk, talk, hear, smell, taste, and touch for granted.
What fools we are to think we are invincible.
To believe that none of these abilities could be snatched from us.
To think the time will never come whet we stop being who we are and turn into what we have become.

“You take it one day at a time, queen,” my father replies when I ask him how he does it.

Turning carefully, I grab my crutches.
The fresh calluses on my hands cushion the hard handles.
Gritting my teeth, I take a step.

I hear daddy’s voice.

“You can do it, Bella. Don’t you forget you’re daddy’s girl.”

Do you take anything for granted?

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51 thoughts on “What are the words a daddy’s girl most wants to hear?

  1. Bella, my love, you categorized this as humor, and yet I’m weeping for you. I do take things for granted: my sight (even if it is aided by trifocals – er – progressive lenses), my hearing, my mobility, my energy.
    Living now with my aging parents, I am having that entitlement chipped away, bit by bit. My mom’s hearing is hardly what it used to be. My stepdad gets winded scary-fast. Both get tired in remarkably short order, although they won’t admit it.
    I’m wrapping you up in a huge hug, sweetheart. xoxo

    1. Ellen, sweetheart, thank you for pointing out that the post had been categorized as humor. My WordPress has been a bit haywire and for some reason, it did not publish the right categories. I’m appreciative that you caught that! I am also so very grateful for your comforting hug. I can relate to what you are going through with your parents. My father’s health was so compromised and at the end, he could barely take the pain. Thank for sharing, my friend. Hugs and kisses to you! :)

  2. Bella, hugs and wishes for a swift recovery!
    Things I take for granted? Plenty, like most of us, I suppose. Although, from time to time, life kicks me and shows me it’s far from granted.
    As a kid, I recovered quickly from pretty much anything, and I was able to visit sick friends without the fear I’d catch it, too. I took it for granted, and sometimes I still forget it’s no longer the case.
    Or maybe I forget it on purpose, because I refuse to accept it.

    1. Ivana, you are wise as you are kind. I think it’s great that you are able to identify why and what it is that you take for granted. This is an experience that has taught me so much. I can only hope that this will lead me to never again take anything for granted! :)

  3. We do take things for granted. I’ve learned that lesson, too, but now that I’m back on my feet, I lose patience with myself on a slow day. Your beautiful essay reminds me that illness and health come and go and we must be grateful for the days when our bodies obey our wishes. I’m hoping for a speedy recovery for you.

    1. Shary, thank you so much! I find that low tolerance with ourselves is something most of us are prone to do. Fortunately, the older we get, the more tolerance we have to develop! :)

  4. Many heartfelt wishes for a speedy and full recovery. While I read this, I could feel the pain, agony, and frustration. I could also feel the love and respect you have for your father. Beautiful!

    Do I take things for granted? I try not to. For years I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and I remember waking up day after day after day, hoping to feel better…when my body finally did start to recover, I had to work through the mental and emotional effects of years of isolation. These days, every time I take a mountain hike or lug bags of dirt around in my garden, I am constantly moved to tears of gratitude. I’m one of the lucky ones who recovered — so many do not, or only have a partial recovery.

  5. I took for granted that I would have plenty of time to ask my mom questions about where things came from and now have all these amazing things I have no idea the history and story behind them. Having to deal with your parents’ history after they are gone is bittersweet. That video made me cry – it was good. This whole post was so powerful and now I am going to take a look at my life and make sure there are things I am NOT going to take for granted ever again.

    Such as telling a dear e-friend how much she blesses and inspires me – and you do, Bella. Always!

    1. Nan, your words lift my spirits in an unimaginable way. Thank you! I’m so sorry you didn’t have the chance to ask your mother those things. One of the things I most dread is having to live with the regret of having wanted to do something but not having done it. I’m so happy that you are on the path of not taking things for granted. Kudos to you, sweet lady! :)

  6. Just a beautiful, beautiful post Bella. I know I definitely take things for granted – my health and privilege being the worst. Especially as a runner, I try to remember how lucky I am, and how happy I am to live the life I do.

    Your writing is evocative and mesmerizing. I know your Dad would be so proud of you to read your wise words. xx

    1. Vanessa, I know your words made daddy smile! Thank you! I long for the days when I could run. Wait, I never ran! hee hee! Seriously though, I long for the days when Roxy and I would get lost in the forest for hours, just taking pictures and smelling nature’s aroma. Sigh. :)

  7. Oh! I take too many things for granted… Not proud. Thank you for the reminder. Not sure how many reminders I’m going to need before I learn to slow down and just be.
    Heal fast!

    1. Shelley, thank you! Slowing down is always difficult, especially with the busy lives we lead. We just :)have to make the effort and hopefully, find we can finally exhale! :)

  8. Bella, you took aim directly at my heart with this post. I’m visiting my dad this week and pushing him around in his new wheelchair….

    Eating toast and drinking coffee over the kitchen sink doesn’t sound like much fun, but I hope you’re soon back to your cute cafe, with Roxie in tow! I send you a huge virtual hug with all best wishes for your quick recovery. xxxxxxx

    1. Jann, I hope you have a wonderful time visiting il tuo pappa! I’m amazed at how fancy schmanzy wheelchairs have gotten. Unfortunately, the one I’m using has to be circa 1960! hee hee! I truly hope the universe hears your wishes and that Roxy and I soon find ourselves heading to our favorite jaunts! Hugs! :)

  9. Bella, your dad is such a dear man. I suppose we all do take a few things for granted and believe we’re all invincible. This post just reminded me to cherish all the senses I have, and the folks I’m with. I hope you aren’t in too much pain and inconvenience, Bella. Get well soon, feel better one moment at a time and breathe in all the little, good things in the world. Hearing your dad’s voice or Roxy’s click-clacks are privileges!

    1. “Hearing your dad’s voice or Roxy’s click clacks are privileges.” –Dear Claudine, this phrase gave me goosebumps! You are so right! They are indeed. I miss my father every day. Every day. It’s a beautiful thing to make a halt in our lives to value what we have, physically and otherwise. So many others don’t have that. Yes, I need to be more grateful. :)

  10. Bella, this post has touched me deeply, thank you for sharing it. Having been out of the blog reading game for a while (that’s a post all it’s own!) I don’t know why you’re using crutches or a wheel chair but I hope you’re all right <3.

    1. Hi Rachel!! I have missed you! I was so happy to get your comment. I hope you are well. Long story short, I tore my meniscus and since then, it’s been uphill all the way. I’m now recovering from surgery and it’s being more of a challenge than I thought. Hopefully, this too shall pass. Hugs to you! :)

    1. Bella and DiDi, how are my two favorite ladies? I’m tickled pink you liked the post! Thank you for your well wishes. I’m sorry I made you cry. I have that effect sometimes. hee hee! :)

  11. Bella, you are sooo brave and I admire your courage! Yes, we all take getting around as a right until we’re reminded that it’s a blessing. I had to laugh at the picture of your dad chasing your sister’s boyfriend down the street with a bat, though!

    I’m glad you’ve got your son and Significant Other to help with your mobility right now. Take heart, dear friend — this, too, shall pass, and soon you’ll be up and about again, photographing your locale with Miss Roxy.

    This is beautifully worded on many levels. I love how you bring in memories of your dad. Blessings to you as you mend, Lady!

    1. Debbie, thank you for your kind words. They lift my spirits. They truly do! You should have seen my father the day of the bat incident! I think it’s a day my sister and her boyfriend at the time, will never forget! Daddy never did think any boys were good enough for his “little girls.” It’s funny how I find that endearing now! ha! Happy Mother’s day! Hugs! :)

  12. Bella, once again you’ve outdone yourself. This is a tender loving post and so sad, too. I LOVE how you juxtapose your memory of your father in his wheelchair with your present state. I feel for you, Chica, what you’re going through. Yes, we all take things for granted. About a year ago, I injured my knee badly and the pain and swelling lasted for about six months. I was limping and thought that would be my state for the rest of my life. But physical therapy and time helped and now my knew is almost back to its original state. I can’t run anymore, but I can dance once again and for that I’m so grateful. It’s tough, this business of getting old. But you’re handling it so well. I wish I could come over and spend a day with you, just two gals hanging out. I’d take you to the park in your wheelchair or back to the cemetery for some peaceful meditation. We’d chat about all kinds of stuff and then I’d give hugs and kisses to Roxy. Sigh.

    1. Monica, if I ever write a book, I am going to ask you to write a review for it! You have no idea how much your words mean to me. Thank you! On Tuesday I go back for physical therapy appointment #2. I hope it helps quickly since you know my trip to Spain is right around the corner. Sigh. Reading about your knee troubles, I’m convinced this is one of the toughest body parts to heal! Ay, Dios mio! Imagine the fun we’d have if you were to spend a day with us! I’m crossing my fingers it will be in the near future! Happy Mother’s day! :)

  13. Beautiful and poignant. In the past two years, I’ve had a lot of back trouble that resulted in surgery. I, too, came to appreciate the healthy body I always took for granted and what it must be like to live with permanent disabilities. It’s made me pay a lot more attention to those around me and seek to give help where and when I can. I hope you heal soon.

    1. Nora, I’m so glad your back troubles are over. My sister suffers from dreadful back pain from a herniated disk and she’s in constant agony. I am slowly asking for help when I need it. It’s just really difficult since I like fending for myself but let’s face it, a the end of the day, I’m in pain. A lot of pain. Thankfully, it seems to be getting less as the days pass. Thank you for your well wishes, sweet lady! :)

    2. I had a very hard time asking for help, too. But like you there were times I just had to let go and ask anyway. It’s not easy to do is it? I really didn’t understand before. Now I have a fresh appreciation for how hard chronic pain can be on a person. Glad to hear you’re on the mend.

  14. Ay, chica me hiciste llorar!
    Un post lleno de las emociones que todos como hijos y come padres hemos sentido alguna vez.

    I’m so sorry about your knees, your body pain and I think that we all have taking things and our love ones for granted one time or another but our rendition is that we acknowledge it and do better the next time that our love ones need us.
    Te mando mucho amor y que te sientas mejor pronto,

    1. Ofelia, amiga mía, ¡feliz día de las madres! ¡Que lindo tu comentario! ¡Gracias! No te imaginas lo mucho que agradezco tus palabras de apoyo. Me siento rendida, cansada, y verdaderament harta del dolor. Pero con la ayuda de Dios, pa’ lante! ¡Besos y abrazos! :)

  15. Oh, Bella, this sure struck home with me! As my parents and grand-parents-in-law aged, I had to accept that they were ‘failing’. And now, only a handful of years later, I am seeing the same general decline . . . in me. Me. Who was never going to age. Who was going to be that little old eighty-year-old out jogging every morning. Yep. First the feet. Then the knees. It’s anyone’s guess which is going to go next! Thinking of you, friend, with your crutches and your wheelchair. We’re in this together!

    1. Diane, your words had me twirling! Yep, bad knee and all! I can’t think of a better person I want to be in this together with! Woot woot! hee hee! I think there comes a time when we have to admit that we are not as invincible as we thought. Not that we’re not fearless, mind you, just that we’re human. Thankfully, our good humor and positive attitude helps us conquer whatever comes our way! Yay! Happy Mother’s day! :)

  16. I wish you a speedy and full recovery my Bella. Unfortunately like millions of people I take things for granted until something bad happens then I realize that I should not. Like they say in my country “you never know that you bum is important until you have a pimple there”. I hope I make sense.

    1. Beautiful Ciaa, you always make sense! And you’re absolutely right–it’s not till we lose something, or are on the verge of losing something (in this case, our health) that we realize how very precious it is. Here’s to good health and a long life, lady! :)

  17. Bella, I hate to hear that you’re having health issues. Geez. Rotten luck. I’ve had some things that forced me off my feet for a few days – a broken foot and torn knee cartiledge among them. Hope you are better soon. In the meantime, just be the Queen. Let the people around you wait on you. I know you are always taking care of them. Hugs.

    1. Renee, I love your words. Being the queen sounds just what the doctor ordered! Delegate, he said, and I have! Although between you and me, the Significant Other and the Son are ready for me to get back on my feet again! hee hee! A torn cartilage does not sound like fun! The surgeon told me I have osteoarthritis in the inner cartilage of the meniscus. Sigh. I’m really going to have to make some lifestyle changes if this knee is ever going to heal. Although there’s not much one can do about the osteoarthritis. Sigh. In the meantime, we shall focus on the glass half full! Hugs! :)

  18. Miss Bella,

    I said it before and I will say it again….You are wonderful at writing and making the reader feel your pain, sorrow, laughter, loss….I never tire of reading your posts. Every time I see an email with a new post, I try to rush to read it because I know it will make me laugh, make me sad or bring me to a different part of the world (your Spain trip).

    All the best for a speedy recovery to you and love how you made me see your Dad as a person with your description of him and what he went through (A BIG THANK YOU TO BELLA’S DAD FOR SERVING OUR COUNTRY!)

    Do I take things for granted? Every day…and every morning as I lay in bed being thankful for another day of life, I ask for forgiveness for not slowing down and appreciating what I have.

    Thanks Bella for the best posts I continue to read……you are a beautiful person.

    Eve

    Sorry, got carried away with this Hallmark moment…. :)

    1. Eve, your beautiful comment has made my day, my week, and my month! Gracias, amiga! You are too kind. I am delighted that you feel this way about my writing. It’s funny, since I write the way I talk. Sadly, there’s not always a human in this home to talk to so I think it’s the pent up need for conversation is what allows me to describe what I go through. I’m glad you got carried away with your Hallmark moment! Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Abrazos! :)

    1. Kim, it is true. When I think of daddy, I’m grateful that I memorized every word, every gesture, as I’m sure you did with Kay! Love you more, lady! xoxo :)

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