I called the hospital in Windsor, talked to a social worker (didn't get very far there) and to Dad's doctor (got a bit more information from him). Then I called Dad and asked him if it would be all right if I talked to them, even though it was too late to get his permission. I guess I was expecting to have to ask for forgiveness for butting in, but he surprised me by saying yes without any argument at all. It was okay. I could talk to them. Somehow I had expected him to be resistant to the idea, and was surprised when he wasn't.
My father has reached the stage in life where he needs support. He's made a valiant effort, out-living a doctor's predictions of a premature death by more than 40 years so far. Throughout his adult life, his health has presented him many challenges, but he has faced them with courage and determination and has remained steadfastly independent and surprisingly active. In the last few years he has scootered over to the library once a week, checked out 10 or so books, scootered them back home and read about one a day until he got through the pile. Then back to the library to restock his supply. I asked him once if he ever forgets which ones he's read and takes the same one home again by mistake. He said, "No. Before I take them back to the library, I take a pencil and write my intials lightly inside the back cover. Then when I take a book off the shelf, I just have to look to see if I've read it or not." I'll bet half the books in the Windsor Public Library system have my father's initials in them!
Dad didn't seem to have a very clear understanding of how the system works, so I explained the "discharge planning" process to him. I'm sure his lack of understanding is only because no-one had taken the time to explain. Dad might need help physically, but he is definitely still as sharp as a tack. The youthful twinkle in his bright blue eyes, and a quick and ready wit quickly confirms that he is much younger in spirit than his 83 years.
When I told him that my sister Brenda and I wanted to be involved in the discharge planning meetings, that we wanted to be there to make sure he had all the options presented to him so that he could make the most informed decision possible, he said "Okay." As meekly as one could possibly imagine. I was sure I'd have an argument on my hands, or at least a protestation of, "you're busy, I can handle this myself." But quietly and with a clear strong intent, he said, "Yes". He seemed grateful. And relieved.
Knowing his deep aversion to being a burden to anyone for anything (it comes from watching his father during the depression begging for a little credit, getting turned down, and then begging and pleading some more, and still getting turned down.) I made a point of saying to him, "Dad, this is not a burden to us, you know. It's a debt of love that we owe and it would be a far greater burden for us to bear for the rest of our lives if you didn't let us help."
He understood. And he said yes.
My heart was strangely moved. I was flooded with all kinds of feelings I had not expected and could not have anticipated. In that moment I felt so much love, so much respect for my dad.
I saw something of Jesus in my dad's "yes". How he came from heaven to be one of us, a helpless babe. The King of heaven came to be suckled and diapered and bathed. Was he any less a king? Did he have any less authority? No! He had more!
There's something truly noble and strong in knowing when it's time to say, "Yes." It was out of love the offer was extended to my dad, and it was out of love for us that he said, "yes".
I have never felt more respect, or more love for him than I did in that moment. He's never been weaker, not in my lifetime, and yet even confined to that hospital bed, unable to get up on his own, he's never seemed so straight, so tall, or so strong.
"It's an upside down kingdom," my husband Ron said, when I shared this with him.
It's upside down all right. He's got that right.