Life is Tough All Over
You can talk all you want about how “sweet” my daddy was. And he was sweet, particularly at the end of his life when he tromped through the brambles of dying without letting erupt anger, complaint, or self-pity. In fact, he did the opposite, insisting always that he was doing great, feeling great, just glad as all get-out to be here.
But you need to remember: when we were three girls growing up, whenever we opened our bird-mouths and chirped complaints about this, that and the other thing, his stock response was: “Life is tough all over.” To this pronouncement there was no, “Yeah, but.” Life is the way it is. Get used to it. Move on.
So when I see Daddy in my mind’s eye fighting to get his arm to bend the right way so it will go into the dang pajama sleeve. Or holding onto the sitter’s hand for an extra long moment so he can steady himself before trying to take his first step. Or grimacing at the pain he cannot identify, much less do anything about. When I ponder the courage he showed in his absolute conviction of happiness even when many of us would say life had decreased to the point it just down-right sucked, I understand.
Daddy was not being patient or kind or even sweet. He was living out what he’d always believed: if you’ve got a roof over your head and a family that loves you and food you can count on arriving on your plate, you have no right to complain. None.
“Life is tough all over” wasn’t something Daddy said just to shut up teenage girls. It was a jumping off point: life is tough, understand that, get over it. Now what are you going to do? Who are you going to be?
For me, Daddy answered that question: I am going to be someone who teaches my grown daughter the proper way to exit this world, with light-heartedness, happiness, and joy at the life I’ve been given the chance to live.
here’s to creative synthesis . . .
Maybe there is some special grace given to those whose lives are about to end. My brother who recently passed away was much the same. He was pleased that his most recent grandchild was coming for a visit (he got there before his grandfather died) and he was clear that he wanted no heroic measures. He accepted full responsibility for his lung cancer and reached out with his humor to those around him. So, Ellen, your words spoke to and for me. Keep them coming.
Beautifully stated, and full of truth.
Ellen Morris Prewitt
Thanks, Joe, for letting me know – we are on a similar path of loss
Ellen Morris Prewitt
Thank you, Marisa – I appreciate it