Ten Thousand Days

The Things We Do For Love

November 24, 2020

Photo: Tony Liao

Day 2280 – Day 2292

On Sunday I spent the afternoon alternately watching a video with my dad and hiding my face in the folds of my cowl-neck sweater.  My dad loves war movies.  If you read my previous post, you will know that I have a respect for the sacrifice of soldiers but I don’t enjoy the glorification of war.  Recently my dad asked his wife about the film We Were Soldiers and she tried to find the videotape in the stores but didn’t succeed (video? does anyone actually sell videos anymore?) When I heard that my dad had asked again, I quickly tapped my fingers and bought a DVD version online and planned to give it to him for Christmas.  If there is anything that Covid has taught me, it is this: Don’t delay enjoyment and spending time with family.

My father had an outpatient surgery on Friday and I’ve been over every day to see him as he recovers.  I was in the hospital a year ago for over a month which is pretty long, by Canadian standards, since we only have 2 hospital beds per 1000 people in this country.  I know that visits mean the world to a person who is unable to get on with their normal life.  Dad has enjoyed the golf masters and some football games over the weekend but there was a lull in the entertainment for him and so I brought over the movie.

His wife tells me that I “watched it” with him some Christmas past.  I suspect that while he was watching it, I was busy wrapping presents or scrolling through Instagram or texting with my ex-boyfriend.  I cannot imagine that I actually watched it.

I had a panic attack when I was a young woman and as sometimes happens, I developed the fear of having another panic attack in the same public place and so I started avoiding places like sporting events.  I am highly sensitive and the first panic attack revealed this to the world, if nobody had ever taken me seriously before.  We were in Las Vegas and we had ring-side seats for a boxing match.  I think Evander Holyfield was one of the fighters.  It looks almost civil on television.  I can tell you that when you are ringside, you can get pretty dizzy with the sound of boxing gloves pounding flesh, bones crunching and blood and sweat flying out of the ring towards you.  My father worked in an abattoir as a teenager to earn money for the family so flying blood and guts was probably nothing to make him squeamish.  I, on the other hand, had the first panic attack that would turn into a year of recovery from agoraphobia (generalized avoidance of all places where a panic attack might occur).

Violence traumatizes me.  So, to sit and stare at the fireplace or out the window for the length of the movie was all I could do.  I didn’t know the history of this particular battle (although my father knows the history of pretty much every battle of the 20th century of American, British, Canadian and allied soldiers) but I knew well enough that big trouble was coming when one platoon ran off from the rest.  I dove my face into the folds of my sweater, as my intuitive filmic sense unfolded the ambush I knew was coming.

I didn’t want my dad to feel that I was not enjoying spending time with him and keeping him company as he recovers.  But wow, getting through that film left me feeling very queasy.  I’m happy and grateful that he enjoyed the film and it made him emotional to remember the sacrifices made by so many American soldiers in that battle.  He doesn’t usually recall the sacrifices on the other side of the battle but I suppose he has a similar outlook to the Colonel in the film: Lord hear both our prayers, but let our side prevail.

War is complex and so has our relationship been.  I used to be able to spend time with him playing golf but then about ten years ago, he injured himself and had to stop playing.  We used to go out for breakfast on weekends but then that started to fade away because it wasn’t really what he wanted to do on a Sunday morning.  He would have rather had an extra hour in bed to read a novel.  And with Covid, I’ve hardly seen him at all, for fear of bringing the virus to him.  It is sad and frustrating when you consider that I left my entire life in the UK to come and spend time with him, while we were still able.

This looks like it will be a long winter and we will be in lockdown again.  Here, where I live, you are allowed to visit outside your home bubble, with your safe one or two people and I’ve decided that my safe two will be my dad and step-mom.  So, maybe now is my time with my dad.  And for that, I’m grateful.

I’m grateful that we could spend some time together and that I’m able to be of service to him in this time.  He has certainly given up a lot of his own desires to provide for 3 children, and 3 grandchildren so it makes me happy whenever I can find some small way that he will allow me to give back.  I’m grateful that I could find something that would bring him pleasure when he’s not feeling so well, and I’m grateful that I know how to manage rising anxiety so that it does not become a panic attack and how to ride the waves of one if it should come.  I’m grateful that I survived the movie with only a slightly queasy tummy.  There are sacrifices in war and in peace times.  These are the things we things we do, for love.

 

Photo: Katarzyna Grabowska

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

 

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