Tavis Smiley's Book, "Keeping the Faith"

He asked me what I had been told about my father's prognosis. I told him that the attending physician said that he would be dead soon. This wonderful Black physician would not be dissuaded by the diagnosis of his counterpart. He simply looked at the chart and said, "Let me try something." I don't know what he told the staff, but there was an immediate flurry of activity around my father. I later learned that this doctor, who would not give up on my father when everybody else had, had ordered that he be given some experimental medication designed to stop the bleeding in his brain. The blessings are overflowing.

My father survived, but he had a very long road to recovery. He spent a month in a rehabilitation center, and I was now faced with an unthinkable situation. Who would take care of my father? I could not take him home because my aunt was already there taking care of my mother, who required twenty-four-hour assistance. While I knew my aunt would never turn down the challenge of taking care of both her sister and her brother-in-law, it would be too much for one person. And I knew that I didn't have the room or the facilities at my house for him to live with us. My only option was the unthinkable: a nursing home.

I had a referral from a trusted social worker who urged me to consider putting my father in Mary Gran Nursing Center. It was where all the local doctors put their parents. Just the thought of having to put my father in a nursing center was horrifying, almost beyond understanding. Black folks didn't put their parents in nursing homes. That was something that white people did. I drove slowly to the center to meet with the administrators to discuss my father's becoming a resident. After I parked in the lot, I put my head on the steering wheel, unable to get out of the car. I prayed and cried out for God to give me the strength to move, and the courage to do what I knew in my heart was best for my father. I felt so guilty about signing the forms that would admit him to this nursing home.

In retrospect, this was one of the best decisions that I would make regarding my father's health care. My father received care that exceeded my expectations tenfold. He became the darling of the nursing center. For the last six years, the nursing staff and other support staff have taken care of my father with the greatest love, support, and professionalism. I often asked myself, "Why have I been so blessed?"

Psalm 30 says, "Weeping endures during the night, but in the morning joy cometh." Since he arrived at the nursing center, my father has developed insulin-dependent diabetes, survived prostate cancer, and experienced the death of six roommates. In spite of this, he approaches each day with a positive attitude. He has taught me more about love and life during his disability than I could have imagined. His attitude about his illness has been inspiring. He still believes that he will walk again unassisted. He still believes that he will work again. And he still believes that he is improving each day and will have a complete recovery. Words cannot express or capture his spirit and resiliency.

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