Wednesday, April 11, 2012
my father came home with a cancer diagnosis and a pocketful of morphine pills. It took him a few days to gain enough physical strength where he felt comfortable leaving the house and driving his car. Notice I said, he felt comfortable driving … me, not so much.
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I’m speaking of the man who taught me to drive when I was thirteen. He was a very good teacher and an excellent driver himself, but on morphine! I cringed when he’d say ‘let’s go for a ride.’ He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma which is a type of cancer that eats the bone making it look like a pin cushion or honeycomb. His cancer was in his spine and ribs which impaired his movement. Therefore bones were broken from damage from the cancer and his reactions were deterred, not to mention his mind from all the morphine prescribed.
How do you take the keys away from your father? How do you tell a stubborn, cantankerous eighty four year old dying man that he has no business driving a 6,000 lb lethal weapon? I thought long and hard while praying constantly for an answer that came to me while sleeping. The solution was to ask his physician about ‘driving’ at his next appointment.
I was prepared with a list of questions for the doctor with self assurance that he’d take my side on the driving issue and tell my daddy he shouldn’t operate a motor vehicle while taking morphine. What I wasn’t ready for what to hear the doctor reply ‘Cy is an intelligent man, when he feels he isn’t capable of driving he’ll put down the keys.’ My dad looked at me smugly as he took the key fob from me and got into the driver’s seat to go home.
I said some not so nice words under my breath about the doctor who I felt was arrogant (we’d had other disagreements) and WRONG. I was terrified for my father to drive, not only for him but for the lives of others. So sure that the doctor would back me up, I didn’t know what to do. Of course the cantankerous old guy started leaving the house driving more often just to spite me.
I wrote him a letter. Many times in the past I expressed to him in writing what I couldn’t say verbally. After dinner I handed him the letter while we sat on his patio. I watched him read it over and over. He wiped tears from his eyes as he folded it in halves, fourths and tucked it in his robe pocket. My father didn’t speak a word that evening before he retreated to his bed.
But the next morning when he was ready to make his driving rounds, he looked at me and said ‘why don’t you take the wheel.’
1 Timothy 2:8 therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. (NIV)
Even in my passion about my father not driving I didn’t argue with him. I explained my reasoning to him making sure not to be disrespectful. God answered my prayer.