See One; Show One; Teach One; Good-Bye, Dad, Part II
See One; Show One; Teach One; Good-Bye, Dad, Part II
By Monette Benoit
All Rights Reserved.
Part I began: Today, June 19, 2016, is Father’s Day. Originally, I wrote a shorter version for my NCRA (National Court Reporters Association) JCR, Journal of Court Reporting, column, February 2012.
They were married 58 years. She gave the engagement ring back three times.
His father was killed in a car accident less than one week before the wedding.
A child ran into the road. His father swerved missing the first child…
After the funeral, everyone (I ‘mean’ everyone) wanted he, the only child, not to marry – soon…
When they did marry in a quiet wedding, everyone wore black, except the bride. …
When they met, he was employed by the University of Houston and was helping the Veterans Administration to build and create a psych department after his draft ended.
Growing up with my parents and a special needs brother, I always marveled (my words) “how when it was good, it was very good; when it was not good – you two went to your corners – always.”
In fact, I had a $50 bet that they’d never make it to their 50th anniversary. (Only daughter with multiple brothers and their ‘constant learning challenges’ – this made sense to me…)
While my father Emmett J. Donnelly was an IM-ICU patient, I watched him wince, groan in pain, and grit his teeth while receiving a “standard blood stick.”
Then she, wearing a short, white lab coat, said, “I’ll get better when I graduate.”
A second bed had been placed in the room, so I could stay with Dad. Mom was in another hospital. I traveled between the two…
That day, knowing there were cameras watching Dad and I in the room, I was working, proofing a national CART captioning transcript to send back to their security-sensitive national offices.
Instantly, I placed my work in my lap. Now, I was listening.
After the “lab tech” spoke, my eyebrows shot to my forehead; I looked to Dad. He shrugged.
Me? I smiled, asked her to clarify.
I kid you not, she said, “I’m in high school. I’ll get better when I graduate.”
If I had not been seated, I would have fallen back.
Calmly, I stood, placed my confidential work under my computer, exited without a word.
I walked to the IM-ICU nurses station where nurses monitored machines and watched cameras for each patient in each room.
Calmly, I said, “My father has collapsing veins on a good day. On file is his Power of Attorney. I am asking that this IM-ICU patient has blood drawn only from individuals who have graduated high school.”
Few moved behind that long desk. Calmly, I exited. Then I sighed.
A mature adult soon entered Dad’s room. He introduced himself as head pharmacist.
“I was sent here…” Dad looked to me, shrugged, weak.
To me, while the head pharmacist stuck and restuck him (over and over), Dad said, “See one, show one, teach one. We’re both teachers – you and me. Education. Remember. Always remember.”
To the youngster in the white lab coat, he smiled, “You’re doing fine.”
My lips were together until Project Blood Stick (my term) was finished.
The head pharmacist said, “This was more involved than I thought it would be. I really had my work cut out for me – Get it? Cut out?”
After they left the room, I commented, “That was unnecessary pain for you.”
Dad, “I’m a teacher. She needs to learn. It might as well be me.”
Me, “Not today, Dad.”
Dad insisted that “she” (in 11th grade!) needed to learn.
I insisted “she” could learn on oranges or other blood-drawing (sic) students as is standard protocol for trade schools, colleges, and universities, not ‘on’ IM-ICU patients for a high school student seeking “to get better when I graduate.”
Oh, my father wanted to live. He fought his illnesses with lion-hearted strength.
As each new diagnosis was added February 28th, 2011, until hospice, Dad insisted, “I’m going to get better. I still have things I want to do.”
While he was limited in his movements to bed (multiple machines) I sat in his bed, my feet near his elbows.
I placed a pillow at the foot of the bed to prevent the hard metal from hurting my back. Those memories will always be bittersweet for me.
We had more ‘real’ conversations, I believe, because I was not in a chair on the other side of the room. It became “our time.”
I began to say, “Remember when you said that you only tell me this on your deathbed…” He would nod and quietly share.
Then, for each question I asked, he would quietly say, “Remember when you told me that you were going to go to ‘x’ – well, I knew that you did not. It was important for you to learn your boundaries as you learned independence…”
We both were stunned at what we both knew and had not shared when we were younger…
Dad, “As a counselor, I knew if I confronted you, you would become stuck in that passage proving to your mother and I that you were right. I knew, that this was a passage, and as hard as it was, I looked the other way. Yet, I knew. I knew you were basically a good person who was learning boundaries with your peers…”
He would smile, wiggle his toes… This became a small ritual for us, a new passage, for us.
When Mommy was ill, after Dad’s death, and she would cry from pain or despair, sometimes I would share, “Dad told me…”
Instantly, she would stop crying (often from convulsive crying).
Mom would look up, wipe her nose, place her shoulders back, and wipe her tears. Then, often, a small giggle would emerge.
She, “Oh, I ‘remember’ that. We decided to let you grow wings that day… But we were both disappointed in you… (then a long pause) But that day then turned into something else with your brothers. You all turned out okay…”
Mom always stopped crying then. She seemed to gain strength from the passage-moments (my term) I had with Dad.
Those moments became passage-moments with Mom, too.
Nurses and techs with both parents were absolutely stunned in pre-op, post-op, ICU, ER, all the departments, when they would hear these private conversations. They could not fathom having two parents who were educators and would ‘allow’ me to learn my mistakes, on my own.
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