When do we become adults?
I’ve had many milestones in my life where I thought, “Yes, this is it. I’m officially an adult now.”
I can drive, legally drink alcohol, and rent a car. I pay my own bills, do my taxes, and I have a real job. I got married, bought a house, and had a baby. Surely, I must be an adult now.
But the items on this list only scratch the surface of what adulthood means. I’ve learned this as I now watch my dad pass through the final phase of his life. His physical and mental health have greatly deteriorated over the past year, and I know I don’t have much time left with him.
My dad gave me so much, and all I can do for him now is be there and pray he finds comfort and peace. It doesn’t feel like enough. It doesn’t feel fair.
My dad and I were always very close, and strength is the first word that comes to mind when I think of him. He was always on the move. Hunting and fishing in his younger days and taking up golf in his retirement, which only lasted a year, and then he got another job.
We spent countless hours together on the golf course, and we would sing wherever we went. We even had the opportunity to walk the warning track at Miller Park together after a Brewers’ game. We may or may not have smuggled out some dirt and outfield grass.
I am just like my father, as my mom often said to me during my childhood. I inherited his humor; his ability to “ratchet-jaw,” as he would say, with complete strangers; and his subpar golf skills. You can ask anyone and they’ll say I also have his stubbornness.
But now the man who once took care of me can no longer care for himself. The man who exuded so much strength can only walk a few feet at a time. My dad gave me so much, and all I can do for him now is be there and pray he finds comfort and peace. It doesn’t feel like enough. It doesn’t feel fair.
It’s difficult to see my dad in a nursing home, and leaving him there after visiting is heartbreaking. But it’s not about what’s easy or comfortable for me. As an adult, it’s my turn to be strong, and it’s my turn to take care of him and make sure he knows just how much he’s loved.
Although I’ve never felt more like an adult than I do now, there are some days when I also feel like a child; like a lost little girl who can’t find her dad. But I know he will always be with me, and in whatever way he can, he will always take care of me.
My dad always said, “I will age, but I will never grow old.” He held true to that, and the best way to honor him is to live by his words. After all, I am my father’s daughter.