Ursula Bradley: A Daughter's Love for Her Father
by: Ursula Bradley
Forty-five minutes after my father arrived at the hospital on Easter 2010, I was told: "I think your father has Leukemia." I was in disbelief and shocked because I could not understand how this could be determined in forty-five minutes after our arrival. I had to walk out and share the news with my mother, aunts, and uncle. I was taking care of my father with his congestive heart failure so I could not understand how this blood disease came into the picture.
I must say that time does not wait. My father was rushed into ICU, and we spent days and nights at the hospital praying, comforting and crying with many families. I was in a daze trying to stay balanced and keep everything together. The road ahead was scary and dark.
The role reversal became real, and I had to feed, clean and take of my father just as a mother takes care of her baby. My father was now my baby, and I had to learn how to take care of cancer patient. I was his advocate, nurturer and most of all his caregiver.This became an eye-opener because I did not know if I could take on this additional responsibility role, but a daughter’s love for her father conquers everything. My father depended and trusted me with his life. Months and months passed with the same routine of taking care of my father then there came the day we were told that he only had 10% usage of his heart. As we were going home from the doctor, my father said he wanted to go on a train ride. He said, "I don't want to get off the train, I just want to ride and look at the trees and mountains." I did not know where this came from and he would speak of it often. Due to the decline in his body, I knew that this was not possible.
As my father continued to live his life to the best he could, his heart got weaker, chemotherapy and blood transfusions were stopped, and he was placed on hospice. I did not know the train ride was a way of telling us that he was dying. He was telling us that he was about to go on a journey and he was ready. When I think of this, it just makes me so emotional because I did not know at the time what was going on. After my father was sent home, there was a sense of peace and calmness that came over him. He would sit in his wheel chair and look out the window. I would let him have his moment, but my heart was breaking because I knew he wanted to live and be healthy again. There were days he was quiet as he watched his favorite show, CNN. The channels would move up and down constantly during the day and at night. When the channels stopped, we knew that he was leaving us.
Five weeks of fighting for his life was what he did daily. I only spoke life during my entrance to his room. I would open his blinds and paint a scene of beauty using my imaginary paintbrush to paint God’s beauty. At this time, he was confined to his bed but life was continuously spoken and painted daily. Soft music was played from a xylophone by the hospice Chaplin, an atmosphere of calmness and words of love were spoken to him each day. I wanted my father to be at peace when he entered his Heavenly home.
Prayer and the love I have for my father kept me sane and balanced. This was the hardest thing I ever faced. No one ever knew how I felt because I just kept my feelings to myself but I don’t mind sharing whatever relationship a person might have with their father, there is one word that everyone should know and that is forgiveness. The word forgiveness allowed me to understand it did not matter if my father’s absence was a part of my life. I only knew that I was to love, support and take care of him during his sickness.
This story is not meant to be sad because I thank God each day for allowing me the opportunity to take care of my father. This story is meant to share the importance of showing love and most importantly forgiveness. A year and four months later, my mother was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. My father prepared me for the new journey to take care of my mom. I am so thankful that God gave me the strength to be a caregiver for my parents.