As a young girl he believed in me more than I believed in myself, so much so that he would fill me with breath to keep going. I was a far from confident girl and young woman. Constantly battling where my spot in the world was…until I understood that it was my job to create it. He helped me see that.
My dad is an incredibly talented artist. I had some of the same skills yet not in the traditional senses of the word – painting, sculpting, etc. He would teach me how to bring my creativity to life in everything I do, that it didn’t just have to be on a canvas. Rather, our art is in the relationships we have and the impact we create in the world.
This word is one that my dad uses now more than ever. You see for those of you that don’t know my dad is almost 71 and lives with dementia/Alzheimer’s. He was diagnosed six years ago and this word, legacy, has become even more a part of our conversations. So often, this word is associated with financial wealth passed on from generation to generation. My dad has a dream of that financial impact, and well we aren’t quite there — and he gave me something far greater then that, he gave me a ever changing canvas and the creative mind, spirit, and resilience to approach life in a way that can transform a situation I’m faced with by looking at all the angles and finding the solutions that work for everyone.
My dad allowed me to dream.
Sometimes dreaming in this fashion felt intimidating. Often I asked myself “Am I doing this right?” The reality is, there was no wrong way. Simply trusting myself was the answer. Yet with encouragement and autonomy I was given what felt like the world. No we didn’t travel all over physically, however, my dad would pull out old National Geographic magazines and teach me about the world. He would give me space to ask questions and learn.
So now, as we have so many small goodbyes, I cherish any moment we have together, to grow, love, and make space for each other. Caregiving, next to motherhood (and probably tied), is one of the most challenging titles I carry on my back. As we grow in the fogginess, I try to allow us to remember and make new wonders together. I know I’m blessed because even though our experiences now may be a bit different, we are still here together. And it my turn to share with him the spaces he always created for me.
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