Lessons from Dad

When I was little, Dad stressed the importance of following through on, well, anything.  “If you say you’re going to do something, then do it,” he would say. 

I’ve carried those words with me and I’ve taught them to my own children, as well as the kids I teach.  Whether they remember them is another story, but I’ve tried.

When it comes to my own two boys, I like to think that I am a living example of following through with a committment.  They see it from day to day around the house, and they see it in my own personal goals (like training for a marathon). 

At last Wednesday’s practice, Coach Kevin asked if I could volunteer at Dawn at the Don, a 5k and 8K race to support the Toronto Olympic Club in Sunnybrook Park.  The next day, after talking it over with the family, I e-mailed him to say we could all be there at the crack of dawn.  The plan was Dave would ride his bike in (50K), we would marshall, check bags, or do whatever was needed, I would run my 10 miles and we’d visit my parents before heading home. 

On Friday, I went into the city to visit my parents for no reason other than to spend some time with them.  However, after being in the house for ten minutes, I looked at my father and told him that we had to take my mom to the hospital.  Alzheimers had obviously progressed significantly in the past week but there was something else going on.  Mom’s breathing was off; she couldn’t walk from one wall to the other without difficulty.  So Dad and I took her to the hospital and, six hours later, she was finally sent for a chest x-ray.  Later that night, Mom was diagnosed with pneumonia.

The next 24 hours were a bit of a whirlwind for the family.  My brothers and Dad rotated shifts at the hospital so that Mom wasn’t alone.  I wanted to do my part on Saturday night but Dad insisted, “No, you have plans on Sunday morning.  We’ll see you after that.”  Even with everything going on, it was important to Dad that I honour my committment of volunteering at the race.

“I’ll come on Sunday morning, Dad. We’ll be done early.”

And we did.  As planned, Dave rode into the city, we did our stint at a water station, and got to the hospital in time to help with the discharge process.  Then, as planned, we went to my parents’ house and  home.   I ran that night, with the thoughts of the weekend behind me.

Dad has also taught me “If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans.”  Wll, that must explain the thunder we heard that afternoon.  But while He was laughing, so were we – happy that we more or less did what we set out to do and, most importantly, brought Mom home.

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