Monday, February 9, 2009

Leaving Life Behind

Tomorrow is my father's birthday. He is 89 years old. I sent him a chocolate cake in the mail. The best gift I could give him would be to visit, but he prefers consumable gifts. I am planning to see him in April during my daughter's spring break. I try to convince him to visit me, but he likes to be home where he feels secure. He does not like to miss his daily physical therapy sessions. He believes that if he misses too much therapy he will lose his mobility. 

While physically fragile, his mind remains sharp. He has been assuring me for years and years that he has lived a long and satisfying life and that he is ready to go. I cannot imagine life without him, although I have been preparing for the loss. 

Although he lives far away and I see him only two or three times a year, it will be difficult to be further away and less able to visit. I cannot imagine that he will be well enough to travel to Quito. The 9000 foot altitude may be the limiting factor, or perhaps just the long flight with several connections. The last time my parents visited me, they missed their flight in Minneapolis and had to stay overnight without baggage at the Days Inn and arrived in Baltimore exhausted and without any clean clothes for three more days. Both became violently ill and spent their first week at my home in bed and in the bathroom, and were eager to return home and be safe. They promised me they would never return. 

It will be difficult to be so far away from my parents when in Ecuador. I miss them anyway and will miss them more next year. I feel guilty about abandoning them; their lives revolve around their children and grandchildren and I am not sure I will be able to maintain contact as regularly as I do now. I am not sure it really makes that much difference living three or six or ten thousand miles away, but I fear that I am leaving them behind. 

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