I loved him. Some think that I had an unrealistic view of who my Opa was, untrue. I loved him.
When you love someone, you see who they are. You see the moments of kindness, compassion and honesty. And you see the dark moments of selfishness, greed, weakness andimpropriety. Yet, you love them still. Because we are all made of up those moments.
It is because I love him that I can say at times he failed me. And now that he is gone there are lessons I'm learning without him. I'm not talking about missed softball games, or solo's in church. I mean big lessons. Like...there is power in letting people "in".
"In", you get it? Walls down, weaknesses laid bare, fears exposed...deepest, darkest, most shameful secrets on display. "In".
...It was November of 2010, Opa's body was failing him. He struggled to get to the bathroom "in time", struggled to bathe himself, etc. But his privacy was so important that I could not bring myself to push the issue. Until he fell.
I was in the front room and suddenly I heard him yelling my name. Desperate. Scared. "Maryeth! Maryeth!" I came running down the hall and he was laying on the floor unclothed. He was trying to dress himself and had fallen over. He was too weak to cover his naked body, and yet there was no shame in his eyes. "I am not embarrassed." He said over and over. I made some silly joke about me being clumsy and falling all the time too. I helped him get dressed and tucked him back into bed.
As I drove home that night, I played the moment over and over in my mind. I couldn't figure out what was nagging me. I realize now what it was.
I had surgery several years ago. My jaw was wired shut, eating through a syringe, hole in the roof of my mouth, liquid coming out my nose, conversations about bowel movements...you get the point. I was unable to take care of myself and I'm not good at receiving help.
Let me rephrase that, I hate when people help me. It feels like weakness. The scales of "deeds" must always be tipped in my favor, so that I never owe anyone, anything at anytime, EVER.
And so...I found myself, passed out, unclothed, on the floor of my aunt's guest bedroom. I couldn't have called out her name. Physically I could not.
I opened my eyes and she was sitting next to me on the floor, softly calling my name. In fact, she was there before I fainted. She sat by my bed before I went into surgery. She held my hand when I awoke. She brushed my hair, she wiped my face, she fed me and she walked with me faithfully through every difficult moment of that surgery. And I am not embarrassed.
I learned that moments of weakness, do not make me weak. In fact, the opposite. She loves me more because of them. I struggle to understand it, and yet I am grateful for it. I am free to be scared, tired, angry and sad in her presence. I have, and will, disappoint her. But, I know that in that moment when I disappoint, she will not choose to walk away.
Because she loves me. She sees my moments of kindness, compassion and honesty. And she's my dark moments of selfishness, greed, weakness and impropriety. Yet, she loves me. Because we are all made of up those moments.
I'm learning, and it's hard. But, accolades mean nothing if there is no one to sit on the floor beside us, in a moment of darkness, and call us back into the light.