The Antidote

Daddy had been dead a year, more or less, when I sat in the examining room with my husband. It was his routine visit. The doctor’s first remarks, however, were anything but routine.

Maybe they were the aftereffects of examining his previous patient. Regardless, he blurted out that he did not want to live when he became old and useless. He wanted someone to make sure he died. “Why live when I am not of any use?” he asked.

I gave him my answer—the one I received from my father. When he was eighty-eight and demented and bound to a wheelchair and shut up in a nursing facility, Daddy became the father he had not been for sixty-four years.

My father’s alcoholism was a taboo subject that the family carefully guarded both outside and inside the home. No, not even among ourselves did we discuss the secret shame.

Whatever was in our hearts, we bottled up. No fears, frustrations, emotions, or dreams escaped.  Confined to a biological definition of family, we were like strangers in a hostel. That changed when our father became helpless.

His remaining five children then had to make life-changing decisions for him. Forced to converse with each other, we voiced our thoughts. Shared ideas. Agreed on responsibilities.

Amazingly, all of us wanted what was best for our feeble father. We did not spew out anger or bitterness or resentment for his past mistreatment. Not one of us dismissed him or sought to get even.

A missing piece of our childhood miraculously nestled into place. We expressed ourselves and, in so doing, discovered each other’s uniqueness.

There was the time, when, after explaining to my second brother how I had handled a problem with the nursing facility, he exclaimed, “Judy, we didn’t know you were smart! We knew you got good grades, but we didn’t know you were smart.”

In Daddy’s end-of-life setting, incredibly, he caused us children to bond. Although he was never cognitively aware of that accomplishment, his children were.

When I finished my answer, the doctor was silent. Directing his attention to my husband, he performed his examination. Then, as he was leaving the room, he turned to me and said, “Thank you for the antidote.”

Who but the Creator has the right to say when a person is “used up”?

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NASB).

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6 thoughts on “The Antidote

  1. Judy, you do have a gift. The Lord has giving you spiritual insight. And the ability to communicate this. Insight.
    You are my dear friend and I appreciate you so much and I also appreciate what the Lord has established in you. Thank you.

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  2. Judy, this is so good. God had/has a purpose. His purpose is to bring good to all who will receive it. I’m so glad you and siblings were able to reap good from your dad’s pain. By now I believe he knows his suffering was not in vain. Imagine how he felt when the Lord said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” God holds nothing regard the lost years when his child comes to him. Amazing!

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    • Oneta, I am glad that you reaped such benefit from this anecdote. I had originally intended to include it in my second book, Secrets Revisited, but didn’t. The other day I came across “The Antidote” among some other papers and decided, rather than to let this incident go unknown, to publish it in the blog with the hope it would speak to other hearts. Thank you for letting me know how it spoke to yours.

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  3. Thank you Judy. As we all age and face some of the problems that poor health can bring to our loved ones and even ourselves, we all must realize that we are in God’s hands and while it is hard to understand His purpose in some of the events…we know He cares and we can grow from this knowledge. Keep writing friend.

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