“I wouldn’t put it past you. You can do anything, honey," my dad assured me.
I was just about finished with my final draft of the personal essay when my father walked into the kitchen. “What are you doing, honey?”
“Just wrapping up my application, Daddy. It’s due pretty soon.”
He smiled at me, then asked: “What are you going to do when you get out of law school?” His voice was, as always, gentle and kind.
“I think I want to be a prosecutor,” I answered.
He shook his head slowly, admiration lighting up his face. “I wouldn’t put it past you. You can do anything, honey.”
I reached my arms out and he gave me the biggest, best hug ever.
It was only a few months later that law school was starting. Orientation was at the end of August and I only had two more days before I reported there. I was finishing up some last-minute chores at the house late that afternoon in the 90+ degree heat when the phone rang.
I answered it, and heard my father‘s voice on the other end. “Gina, honey, Gina?”
Part of my parents’ daily routine was to go out for a little ride, pick up the paper, and take a spin by the beach where they first met. They never called me when they went on their ride, because the ride was actually a date for them.
My father had explained that to me. Even though they had been married for 52 years, it was a date. Their date. Since my mother had experienced a series of mini-strokes the previous summer, it was a nice, easy routine that they both enjoyed. It was about time now for them to be heading home.
“Yes, I’m here, Daddy,” I answered.
I could hear commotion in the background. My heart started pounding, fast, faster and faster.
Then a strong voice boomed: “Regina? Regina Lawlor? This is Sergeant DeSisto. I’m afraid your father is experiencing a medical event, he’s being taken to the hospital now and your mother will be riding with him in the ambulance.”
I remember digging my nails into my palm to stay calm. “I’ll be right there, Sergeant, thank you very much.”
When I got to the hospital, I found my mother sitting alone in a wheelchair in the middle of a hallway, unattended, confused, and beet red with the heat. I got her a glass of water and sat next to her, chatting, just as if we were meeting at the Ritz for tea.
With that, a new chapter started, but I was never alone. During my time as a caregiver, I always heard my father right there with me, saying: “You can do anything, honey.” How thankful I am, for the blessing of my father, who, just like my Heavenly Father, has never and will never leave my side.
This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.