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I Volunteer and Dad's COPD Acts Up
My father is quite a storyteller. Had he pursued writing, I’m sure he would have written a great collection of short stories.
Over the years, we have learned to nurture our father-daughter relationship. Today, we exchange thoughts, feelings, and ideas beyond what was our usual two sentence conversation. I joke that on good days, we speak in complete paragraphs.
This past weekend, I volunteered with the American Red Cross in both NYC and locally in NJ. But I only told my mother late Friday night that I had to be in NYC by 7:30am the next day. I didn’t want my father to know because he worries, he frowns, and then he tells me “a story.”
When I volunteer, his COPD acts up. He worries about my safety, my commute, and my assignments. He wonders how much I’m getting “paid” and when I remind him it’s volunteer work, he manages to say all in one limited COPD breath, “Good for you but no money. I don’t know. That’s you.”
Luckily, he doesn’t call me on the cell to check up or to nag “Where are you” and “When are you coming home.”
But I know he worries. And when he worries, he coughs more. And his psoriasis starts to flare.
When I arrived home, I shared my experience with my parents. I told them that a tour of the NYC chapter proved insightful as we saw the emergency vehicles used to feed and clothe displaced victims and we saw the myriad boxes of goods either donated or bought at a discount by the Red Cross. I explained that once trucks were fully loaded with our boxes of mesh bags with supplies, we cheered.
My father nodded. He listened. He interrupted. He was eager to share his own story. A skeptic, he told me how he always wonders how much really reaches victims. Nevertheless, anticipating my “But, dad..,” he offered, “Lizunga, I am very proud of you for going today and helping. It’s an admirable thing. It’s just that in my lifetime, I’ve seen and heard so many stories.”
As he walked with his walker to the kitchen, I followed. I listened as he continued with stories of “In my day…”
As we said our “goodnights” he said, “Well, I’m glad you had a good day and that you did something to help others. I just hope you’re not going back tomorrow.”