Have you ever sat in a motorboat plunging through choppy water? Fingers clinging to the seat’s edge. Water spraying as the bow bucks and plunges.

That’s how the last few days have been ever since getting a call from my middle brother on Saturday. Our father was in the hospital, after experiencing a heart attack, and scheduled for bypass surgery.




The news rocked me. Dad was dealing with cancer and now this, and I couldn’t travel to be with him. He’s thousands of miles away – and my bank account won’t allow for the journey.

That huge distance – and gap of many years since our last visit — made me feel horribly disconnected from my father and his life.  The waves of our relationship have remained consistent through my adult years. Turbulence sparked by life decisions I’ve made and opposed by Dad.  And conversely decisions he’s made, (especially with relationships) that I’ve opposed.

Once or twice we’ve forged a peaceful accord — and then one of us – is, well, ourselves again.

I attempted to sever the relationship at one point, reasoning, wasn’t it better to: Ignore all the questions that had no answers?  Focus on the positive relationships and aspects of my life?

My mental brick wall stayed intact for a time. However, I abandoned it after discovering Dad had cancer. The two of us cried on the phone during what we thought would be a final conversation.

It wasn’t.  Since then we seemed closer for a time before  getting tangled up again. Bottom line, I am his daughter. But striking a lasting peace accord with him and he with me – that is a harder shore to reach. I am struggling to do so by looking at the man he is now.

Battling for his life and realizing he is a fighter. Not a quitter.

I recently learned Dad is the primary caregiver for his wife. That news surprised me – and provided a welcome insight into who he is today. He loves her, in the realest of ways.

Dad is pleased with me now that I am employed. He wasn’t happy with me, a few years ago when he learned I was attending college to pursue a degree. Was he worried that I couldn’t support myself — and isn’t that valid?

In the end, for me, it comes down to my accepting who he is and staying focused on where we can find common ground. 

I love him – and he loves me in his own way.

© 2016 by Mary Louise Van Dyke. All Rights Reserved.


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