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Giving the Gift Back

Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Thursday - December 10, 2020

It’s Tuesday, December 8, and I’m sitting in a coffee shop right now writing this blog with a lot on my mind and my heart.

My 89-year-old father is having major surgery to remove a kidney and the ureter attached to it due to tumors inside the ureter. He has bladder cancer that has spread into the ureter. When he was given the diagnosis a few months ago, he was given two options…do nothing or have surgery. He chose the second option and so today the surgery is happening.

As my Dad’s health partner, I’ve sat in hospital waiting rooms during numerous surgeries as we have journeyed through a multitude of health issues together these past 18 months.

But today, the waiting is different. My mind is in a different place than it has been in the past.

So, if my blog seems a bit disjointed and my thoughts appear random, let me ask for your grace and understanding upfront. I’m writing from my heart and not so much from my head today.

In my recent parenting blog series, I've talked about the influence a parent can have on their own kids through their own modeling of behavior and how we tend to parent the way we were parented. The title of last week’s blog, The Gift That Keeps on Giving, speaks directly to this overall message…

How you parent is a gift that will keep on giving in the years to come. Make it a gift worth opening and keeping.

Sitting in this moment of time and space right now, knowing my Dad is in a high-risk surgery, I find myself reminiscing about him as my father over the years.

Last week’s blog explored four different parenting styles and revealed that authoritative parenting is the most effective style to use as a parent.

Fortunately for me, my dad was an authoritative parent. The qualities describing authoritative parenting describe my dad. And, every proven benefit for kids who have an authoritative parent, I received them.

I’m by no means a perfect parent and as much as I think my dad is, he, too, would argue that he isn’t.

Parenting isn’t always perfect. Much of the time it’s a guessing game and a whole lot of experimentation. Sometimes we get it right and other times we don’t.

I’m lucky enough that my dad got it right most of the time.

Sitting here today in the coffee shop and thinking more deeply about my relationship with my dad, I realize that he is still parenting me as much as he did when I was a young child.

He continues to be an authoritative parent. He is nurturing, loving and caring. He encourages open discussions and provides wisdom and guidance. He still has high expectations of me and doesn’t hesitate to express them. While he doesn’t set boundaries and rules for me anymore, I am keenly aware of how his quiet influence guides most everything I do. I respect him and his opinion of me matters just as much as it ever did – if not more.

My dad has not quit being a parent to me despite his age or fragile health. The saying, “Once a parent, always a parent”, is so true.

No matter what today’s outcome is with the surgery and recovery, my dad has given me one of the best gifts in life he could ever give. The gift of parenting. I received this gift on the day each of my two children were born. Little did I know at the time, that I opened this gift from my dad on both occasions. Not only did I keep the gift, but I have used it every day since then with both of my children.

Now, the time has come for me to give the gift back to him, as together, we parent each other.

Me and Dad

P.S. Thank you for letting me share my story with you. I know that not everyone is blessed with a parent as a positive role model or an aging parent who is capable of being the positive parent they have always been, so I do not take for granted this blessing in my life that I call, "Dad."