A Father’s Lesson
I have found that I have a habit of lying to myself. Perhaps lying is a bit harsh, let’s say I have a tendency to deceive myself. This self deception has manifested itself in a variety of ways and situations from seemingly unimportant trivial things to long held beliefs. Beliefs guide our decisions and the way in which we live our lives and those beliefs, morals and ethics are based on our interpretation of our life experiences. That’s where the problem of lying to oneself comes in. What if some of your long held beliefs are based on lies you told yourself. I firmly believe that no one will ever lie to me more than I have to myself. It took my father’s death for me to come to this realization; as it turns out his last lesson for me was the most important.
Walking into my father’s room; the first thing I noticed was that he had a pale yellow color in his skin and eyes. Then I noticed that his shoulder was swollen and that he could not move his arm very well. My sister, who he lives with said that he fell; but that he says he is fine so she is not worried. I could hear the pain in my father’s voice as he proceeded to tell me what happened with a bit of a slur in his speech. My father was an alcoholic most of my life, so his falling or having a slur in his speech wasn’t very alarming; in fact, it was fairly common. No matter what the celebration was about my brother, sisters and I knew how it would end and that’s with my father on the floor. I am not saying that he would pass out and fall to the floor, but somehow whether playing with the dog or wrestling with us kids that’s where he would end up for the night. What was alarming was how swollen his shoulder was and the deep, dark purple bruising around the area. Worst, was the fact that I knew he hadn’t drunk enough yet for him to be slurring. I convinced my sister that he had to go to the hospital immediately and was frankly a little upset that she hadn’t already taken him.
At the hospital the doctor informed us that my father had a mild stroke which caused him to fall and break his shoulder. My father would need to have surgery in order to fix the break or he would lose most of the mobility in his arm. The doctor was hesitant to operate because my father’s liver had suffered a lifetime of abuse and was not working as well as he would like. After some consulting they went ahead with the surgery and they said it went well. I was surprised at how quickly they sent him home. I can remember my brother and me trying to convince my father that he had to try and eat more because he was losing a lot of weight. I would push him to try and move the left side of his body; he had lost some control of it due to the stroke.
My father passed away about a week after coming home from the hospital; I was at work when my brother called with the news. I hadn’t realized until that morning when I went to visit him before work that he was going to die and soon. The hesitation the doctors had in the surgery was because they felt there would be no point. My father was not losing weight; he had already lost it in the months leading up to his fall. My father died of Cirrhosis of the liver; it was not all of a sudden. This is how I become aware that I was deceiving myself in regards to my father’s health and I began to question the extent that I lie to myself.
Why is it that we deceive ourselves in matters of great importance and the mundane? Perhaps, its not that we see what we want to and hear what we want to, rather it’s we imagine what we would see or hear. Regardless of the reason I believe that no one will ever lie to me more than I have and will to myself and if you are attentive you might come to find the same.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.