On Sunday I had Tracy’s family round for a barbecue. It was a bit of a last minute affair with hasty phone calls to invite them over but they were glad to come.
We made a desperate dash to Morrisons and picked up burgers, wings and hotdogs, came home and the wife did the prep work.
I don’t know if it’s some recessive caveman trait but I like to do all the cooking when it comes to a barbecue, even if I’m cooking for 8 people!
It went well and a few beers were consumed (I’m pretty sure that’s a legal requirement). I was on my feet for over an hour, leaving the grill to put stuff in the oven or grab another beer – you know, important stuff. It was a great day and I was very satisfied that nobody died.
I woke up sore the next day, as I expected, but there are times when I’ll knowingly push through my limits for the sake of having one good day. I did what I normally do. I rested, took my chair when we nipped out then had dinner in the garden, with Tracy on chef duties.
In the afternoon the muscles around my right knee started spasming, jerking around without warning. I’ve felt this before but its normally short lived.
It grew worse as the night went on and the wee one kept hugging me to make me feel better.
As Tracy was getting her ready for bed, I could hear them talking but I couldn’t make it out. When I crawled upstairs to check on her, I could see the wee one was upset.
A combination of head nods, hand gestures and marital telepathy led me to know she was worried about me.
When she was in bed, I lay beside her and asked if she wanted to talk. She did.
She told that me she was scared for me and was worried that I might wake up and not be able to walk. She worried about my future, how I was feeling and how else BMD might affect me.
She knows I like to write, so sees tragedy in thought of me gradually losing the ability to hold a pen.
She then made me a promise. “I’ll become a scientist and find a cure for you.”
My response was atypical to say the least. I told her that she was very kind but that I’d gladly live my life with this disease if she was…
“Happy?” she asked.
“No,” I replied. “I want you to live your life for you, to follow your dreams. If you want to study medicine, that’s great but the best thing you can do for me is to be content.”
I explained that constant happiness isn’t possible. Bad things will happen but being content with yourself, knowing that you are living the life you want to live, is one of the most important things in the world.
She understood and told me that when she grew up, she wanted to be content.
I don’t mind what path my daughter takes, as long as it’s one that brings her contentment.
I told her that I’m a little afraid but I know I’m loved, so I’m content with my life and I know I won’t be facing this alone. I’ve got my girls, which is more than many can say.
I shared this poem I wrote with her the next day. I think it’s far more eloquent than my rambles above.
Eternal happiness is unachievable
You might as well try to grasp air
Moments of light slip through our fingers
Keeping us warm when they are there
The true goal is contentment
In all aspects of our existence
To learn to love the deserving
Overcoming our own resistance
Though shadows may swallow your days
The night is always punctuated by stars
Seek not what you can’t hold
Seek contentment, whoever you are.
One of my favourite things about being a father is teaching life lessons and allowing my daughter to hear words I wish I’d heard.
Sometimes I learn more about myself from these conversations. In any regard, I hope these words help you they way they’ve helped us.