Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sore Foot

Every father at one time or another feels like a failure, but every now and then at the end of the day he knows, this day, he did it right.
No apology made for the self serving story to follow.
“Hi sweetie, how are you doing?”
“Hi Daddy.”
“Are you scared?” Her head nodded, those blue eyes starred back in relief. Someone was paying attention to her; after all, we were there because of her! I had arrived a few minutes earlier, having driven almost two hours to find, Melinda talking a blue streak with mundane small talk to her friend Toni. My daughter was lying next to them in a hospital bed, a drab curtain circling the group gave off a semblance of privacy.
The frivolous adult conversation created an emotional barrier leaving the child alone with her fears. My anger spiked. Pushing it aside and leaning close, “You say you’re scared, what are you most afraid of?”
“What is the doctor going to do? Is he going to give me a shot or hurt me, what is wrong with my foot?”
Fear, often is not knowing what is around the next corner and it is highlighted when we feel alone. A few days earlier my daughter had some minor foot surgery and after two days at camp, it now had become infected.
I tuned out the adults and there in those next few minutes it was just a father and his daughter.
“Well, sweetie I am not sure if he will give you a shot – does that scare you?” Another nod and now a tear rolled down her check. “What is it about a shot that scares you?”

“The last time I got a shot the doctor told me it would feel just like a little pinch and when I look away he stuck me, it hurt real bad. The doctor lied!”
“So, you need to know how bad it will hurt? Is that what you are saying?” Again the nod came with those blue eyes fixed on mine. “Okay…, and no surprises or lies?”
Again, the nod but this time there was unbelief in her look. “If he gives you a shot I will make sure you know when it is about to happen – will that help?” She nodded. “What else are you afraid of?”
She reached for my hand, “I am afraid you will leave me alone with the doctor.”
I hesitated speaking decisively and slowly as dad’s can, “I promise, I will not leave you alone with the doctor.”
“Okay,” her head tilted back on her pillow relaxing, but her small hand still gripped mine. It wasn’t long and the next swirling thought came to the surface, head coming back off the pillow. “What is the doctor going to do to my foot?"
“Well, I am not really sure. He will probably change the band-aid and probably clean your foot where your stitches are. But, I will be right here with you. I promise I will not leave you. And, I will make sure the doctor explains everything before he does anything. Will that help?” She nodded again and let her head fall back on the pillow.
We sat there her hanging onto my hand until the doctor came. He asked everyone to leave. And, I told him I would be staying. He looked straight at me. A long silence spanned the equally long stare. In the end he looked away deciding not to argue. “Doctor, my daughter is afraid and she needs you to tell her everything that is going to happen, she has had other doctors trick her and she can handle whatever you need to do but she needs to know what it is and when you will be doing it. Can you do that?” He said, he could and he would.
Just so you know I was right there reminding the doctor and keeping him honest.
The doctor did great, my daughter did great. My daughter and I took the long drive home; I drove and she slept. All these years later, I can still remember carrying her into the house being careful not to bang her dangling foot. I don’t know if my daughter remembers that night but I sure do.
As a dad we do it wrong so many times. It is nice to have at least one memory of doing it right.


Anonymous said...

Awww...Grayquill, I am so moved by this episode from your life. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
If you were so much in tune with her feelings that one time in the hospital, then I am very sure that she has many warm memories of you as a good father. :)

Arkansas Patti said...

What a good Dad, you really did get it right.
Too often we forget that anyone in a hospital bed, regardless of age, is feeling fear. You asked and you listened, the last part is where most of us fall short. Usually visitors are uncomfortable and think if they just make the patient laugh, they have done their job. I have been on both sides of that fence. Thanks Grayquill.

Anita Jeyan said...

You are just like my Papa... So good at heart..! Every time I have to get an injection, I hold him tight to me, because I know Doctors can lie, but Papa never can! Same must be the trust your daughter has with you...!! Hope she is doing good now. :-)

Blunt Edges said...

that was one of the most sweetest and honest posts ever...u sure got it right that day grayquill...a delightful post indeed :)

Tall Guy said...

That was very well put in words!!

Grayquill said...

Choco: I am still blown away that there are some who will actually read something I write. Thank you!
Maybe I have done more than one thing right – my kids do seem to like me. At least they pretend too.

Arkansas Patti: I think it only takes one stay in a hospital yourself before you know what another might be feeling, especially a child – don’t you think? Of course you do, you have been no both side of that fence. Great Comment – Thanks.

Antia: This story happened a long time ago and my daughter is doing great! I am so glad you have a Papa (I love the sound of that word) that you trust. A father, I think gets to know his kids and can tell what they are feeling – at least I hope that is true.

Blunt edges: Thanks for reading my post – and your feedback is very encouraging! I appreciate it!

The Survivor: Thank you – putting words together well is something I strive for but feel I rarely hit the bull’s-eye.

BrownPhantom said...

Hey Greyquill,
This is a very good lesson in parenting. I would remember this always when the times come :). You did great.
Nicely written too :).

Grayquill said...

BrownPhantom: Read Arkansas Patti's comment. She hit it straight on about the listening. Maybe that was the main thing needed that night.
Thank you for your kind words!

Debra said...

What a lovely, precious memory. Something tells me your daughter most likely remembers this and knows you got it right on more than one occassion.

Blessings Grayquill!

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Grayquill, beautifully told! A precious memory of connecting with your daughter in a time of fear. I think I have a few of those stories myself, and they are moments we don't forget as parents. Now, your daughter will have the chance to see just what that moment meant to you. We need to be advocates of our children when they are too powerless (small) to do it themselves. That is the ultimate job of a father, I think -- protecting (and thereby loving) their children and family. Well done! You've taught her more than you realize, I think.

Grayquill said...

Debra: Thank you and thanks for stopping by. I hope you are right.

Roxane: When I was eleven years old my sister had a friend who was 16 years old - her name was Roxanne. I had the worst crush on her - I have loved that name ever since.
Thanks for visiting my blog - and thank you for the nice compliment. I take it as high praise coming from a professional writer.

Betty said...

I can almost guarantee your daughter remembers. You just don't forget times like that. What a good father you must be!

Hilary said...

I have little doubt she remembers how you were there for her and how you lit the sun for her each morning. But if you're truly wondering, why not do what you did way back then?.. ask her.

skar said...

We live and we learn. (As Wooster famously said)

Grayquill said...

Betty: These blogs are like giving my readers rose colored glasses I think - but I will take the compliment, I need all I can get. Thank you Betty - you are so nice!

Hilary: My memory - her most common words in the morning were, "Dad, can't you at least let me wake up before you start teasing me?" Hilary your advice is too good... we will just have to see what she says.

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan: One question - how old were you when you were finally able to write your last name? That is a lot of letters for one name - Wow...
Did Wooster say, that the learning helps?

Frank Baron said...

I'll bet your daughter remembers.

Well done, Dad.

Grayquill said...

Frank Baron: Anything is possible. Thanks for stopping by.

Michele Mallory-Davidson said...

I am sure she remembers, Daddy's Girls always remember these things! I am also quite sure you did "right" more that you could ever imagine.

Grayquill said...

Michele: Thanks - That would be nice.