For a period of time I stopped. I’ve stopped writing, reading and rehabbing. It’s not because I wanted to, but because I needed to. My goal in recovery was to help others through the experience of overcoming my adversity. I was getting strong, but was I strong enough?
About two months ago I got into a taxi; it was a journey to yet another rehab session. The buildings blurred on by, passing another swishing tree, and then a pair of nonchalant legs walking. I fumbled with my phone, writing notes for improvements on this rehab session.
There was a thump as the driver slammed the breaks, and our bodies shook. The driver braced, as with a pair of old cut out wash gloves grasped the steering wheel.
We had arrived on the very road where my rehab took a break and my father’s began.
My father has been sick for almost 10 years now, and it hurts me to see him suffer, but not as much as it hurts me to see him laze about, and not even try to help himself get better. He is on a compulsory maintenance programme, popping in and out of the hospital a few times a week.
Most patients in his medical condition can’t get back to health again, so my dad isn’t motivated at all on further improvements. Perhaps this fragile state of health contributes to his unenthusiastic actions.
His body is so decrepit and run down, that he even has no appetite for food, thus cycling a downward spiral of feeling weak, watching TV, and like most the time, passed out in bed trying to gain an ounce of energy.
Many times I could hear him moan in suffering, crying and whimpering. One night it was his final call for help, where his tears pierced the air and froze me in the other room.
How could he be like this? Why doesn’t he try? Why is he crying, if he doesn’t try to do anything about it?
Maybe if I give him my spirit he’ll be okay for now.
I walked over to him.
“ Dad, let me help you. I’ve offered you help so many times but you rejected me. Let me help you change your life in 30 days. Let’s make you as healthy as you can be, all you have to do is try and we’ll go from there.”
He thought for a second.
“ What do I have to do?” He asked.
“ Just what I tell you. It’ll be easy, and we’ll go at your pace. If we do it together, you can surely do it.”
Cornered and unlike his normal rebellious self, he surprisingly stuck out his hand.
“ Okay I’ll do it, but do I have to eat vegetables?” He asked.
“ Yeah you do. It’ll be good for you, even one of two bites.”
His face cringed as he shook my hand, and then laughed excitedly.
“ Get some rest now, we have a good 30 days a head of us.” I said.
The next few months I stopped my rehab to focus on dad. I wanted to teach him how to stand up and walk again. His condition started from his wasted state. With barely any movements, his muscle had slowly wasted away to skin stringing to bone.
It was one patient helping another.
I encouraged dad to walk as best as he could, then sit when he needed rest. We both walked with a cane in our hands, as he balanced with his free one, and I held him with mine. An assistant followed us behind pushing an empty wheelchair.
With enough steps to a committed routine, it paid off. He learnt to walk again! As for me, I became a wiser patient for it.
I realised that my purpose of walking with my dad was to help him walk strong again. The strength of responsibility in me to help another to get better was much greater than my own effort to help myself. I felt that even if I was tired or in pain and if I couldn’t help myself, I could muster up strength to help my dad.
This was a perfect opportunity. I knew I was already blessed to be able to walk again. Swimming and running was a bonus, so stopping my rehab to help another patient heal was what I needed to do. My father’s situation was at a critical moment in his life, and he needed me now. So I put everything into him.
Dad started wobbling with his next few steps.
“ Pa, let’s take a seat.”
He thumped into the seat.
I jolted forward from the leather taxi seats.
“ Uncle, I remember you!” I said.
“ What?” The taxi driver exclaimed getting caught off guard.
“ Do you remember our deep talk about life?”
“ Oh, I remember you! I recognised your voice. How do you remember me?”
“ I recognise you from your gloves.” I replied.
He adjusted the mirror, glancing at my reflection.
“ I see you’re still using the stick. How’s it going? Can you run now?” He asked.
“ Yes! I learnt to run since we last met. I’ve been working on my rehab everyday.” I replied.
“ That’s good. How often do you run?”
“ I don’t any more, because of its painful vibrations it causes during landings. Initially, I trained to learn how to run again, but then stopped to protect my aching joints. My body’s not use to taking the impact any more.”
“ That’s right, be gentle with your body. I can definitely tell you that at my age. It’s good to be safe. Hahaha…” He let out a deep grandpa laugh.
We talked for a long while parked at the side.
“ It’s good to see you again.” He said.
“ Likewise.” I replied.
I handed him money for the taxi fee.
“ That’s too much. Here take it back.” He said.
“ Remember last time you said I could give it to you? Well here’s the payment for the wisdom.” I replied smiling.
To be honest, my motivation has been draining as I’ve been working non-stop all this time. It’s been difficult when I was alone, but flipped and picked up momentum when I found my purpose again. I knew that even if I couldn’t do it for myself, I could do it for my father.
I know he can improve, and he has, because he has the strength to scold me now. It’s a good sign because that means I’ve succeeded in helping him.
Sometimes in life, we have to go through adversities to learn and become something better. It is at this degree of pain where we learn to change the way we view ourselves. We change our behaviours, our discipline, and our focus. At the end of the process we’ll be transformed into something that we were not, something better that can get the job done. And when we’re almost there, we might stumble again. It is here where we should take this opportunity to change into some even much more beautiful.
As I walk sturdy footed teaching my father how to walk, I found my purpose to walk again.
Why do you do, what you do?