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Both Sides Now
By Bobbie Probstein
After my mother passed away, my dad tried even harder to stay healthy and active. Each morning, until the weather turned too cold, he swam in the turquoise pool in the complex where he lived. Each day--no matter how he felt--he swam one more lap than the previous day, just to prove there was always room for improvement. Every few days he reported the new number of laps to me, pride edging his voice. I would answer truthfully, "Golly, Dad, I don't know if I could still swim that many!"

By his late seventies, in spite of swimming and working six days a week, my dad had noticeably dwindled in strength and energy. By age eighty-one he was in poor health and had to retire. He pretended he didn't need to lean heavily on me for support as we walked slowly, and I pretended not to notice. His mind was clear, but congestive heart problems and disabling arthritis had worn him down. One day he said, "In case of an emergency I do not wish to be kept alive by any extraordinary means. I've signed an official paper to this effect." He smiled his wonderful, broad grin and said, "I've been blessed to have had your mother as my wife and you as my only child, and I'm ready to go."

Less than a month later he had a heart attack. In the emergency room, he again reminded his doctor and me of his wishes, but I couldn't imagine - in spite of this latest crisis - that he wouldn't always be saying, "Have I told you yet today that I adore you?"

He was miserable in intensive care; tubes seemed to come from every opening. But my dad still had his sense of humor, asking me, "Does this mean we can't keep our lunch date tomorrow?" His voice faltered.

"I'll be here to pick you up and we'll go someplace special." I answered, a lump in my throat.

Dad refused to look at me for the first time in his life and turned toward the blank green wall next to his hospital bed. There was a painful silence between us. He said, "I don't want you to remember me like this. Promise me you won't, darling! And please go now - I'm so miserable."

That night, back at the hospital with my husband, the attendants wouldn't let us in to see him. "He's having a little problem," one said. "Please wait in the visitors' lounge and we'll call you as soon as possible."

I sat holding my husband's hand for about ten minutes. Suddenly, a jolt shook me and I felt my heart stop beating. "Oh, honey," I said. "Daddy just died. I felt it!" I jumped up, rushed down the hall to intensive care and began knocking on the door. "Let me in to see him," I begged.

"He just died a moment ago," one of the nurses answered. "Please go back to the lounge and we'll come get you in a few minutes." They blocked the door so I couldn't rush in.

It had seemed to me that this beloved man could never die. He had been such a solid, loving presence in my life. In spite of what the nurse had said, my heart refused to believe he died so suddenly. I raged inside, believing I had let my dad down by not being at his side, holding his hand and telling him of my love as he had passed on. That's the way it should have been, my inner critic scolded. You should have told him how much you loved him, as he had always told you. You should have been there for him. It would have meant a lot to him. That's what you should have done! And I felt the relentless heaviness of guilt mingled with grief.

Knowing I'd been an attentive and loving daughter wasn't enough as the months and years wore on. Nothing made a dent in my stubborn conviction that I hadn't been there when he'd needed me the most.

Now a dream has set me free.

After a dozen years, my father came to visit me in a dream and tell me his side of the story:

You know I worked long past retirement age, and when my knees just couldn't carry me anymore, I felt disgraced by being so weak. Most of all, I never wanted you to see me as a helpless old man dying in a hospital bed. It would have hurt too much to have you there. So I'm telling you the truth, my darling daughter: I know you loved me as I loved you. And I did not want you there at my death, and I did not want you holding my hand when I died. That was what you wanted, not what I wanted. My death was perfect, just the way it was. There are two sides to everything - even death.


Good Examples

Gotta Deal

Greetings From The Heart Valentine's Special

Heaven Bound

Your Daily Freebies

Music By Margi Harrell

Remember When

Grandma and Grandpa were sitting in their porch rockers watching the beautiful sunset and reminiscing about "the good old days". Grandma turned to Grandpa and said, "Honey, do you remember when we first started dating and you used to just casually reach over and take my hand?"

Grandpa looked over at her, smiled and obligingly took her aged hand in his. With a wry little smile, Grandma pressed a little farther, "Honey, do you remember how after we were engaged, you'd sometimes lean over and suddenly kiss me on the cheek?"

Grandpa leaned slowly toward Grandma and gave her a lingering kiss on her wrinkled cheek. Growing bolder still, Grandma said, "Honey, do you remember how, after we were first married, you'd kind of nibble on my ear?" Grandpa slowly got up from his rocker and headed into the house. Alarmed, Grandma said, "Honey, where are you going?"

Grandpa replied, "To get my teeth!"

Granny Cake

2 cups flour
1 cups sugar
1 t baking soda
1 t salt

2 eggs
20 oz can crushed pineapple with juice
Pour in greased 9 x 13 pan.

Sprinkle with:
cup brown sugar
cup chopped nuts
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

About 15 minutes before cake is done, start cooking:
1 cup evaporated milk or cream
cup butter
cup sugar
1 t vanilla
Cook over medium heat and boil 5 minutes. Pour over top of cake immediately after taking out of oven.

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