It's a question my father has asked me every day for the past week.
"You're in the hospital Dad."
Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's in the summer of 2002. The progression - watching "superman" slump, tremble and stiffen - has been gradual and challenging.
But it is also a gift. His disease has slowed him down enough for us to get to know each other.
His fierce independence now takes a back seat. He needs someone and it is me. I am sitting pretty in the drivers seat and he is willingly beside me.
Through example, Dad teaches me strength and courage.
I have listened. I have learned. And today, I will practice.
Dad stopped speaking yesterday. He stopped opening his eyes. He will not eat.
I am by his side, squeezing every last ounce out of him. Photographing him, videotaping him, talking to him, being still with him.
I am focused on his breath. In-between the soft gargle of pooled lungs, I am flooded with memories of his laughter, his determination, his uncanny sense of timing, his wit, his temper, and his intensity.
Today, he will steer and I will watch - willingly and gratefully.
Where will you go today Dad?
Oh! The Places You'll Go!
By the incomparable Dr. Seuss
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets.
Look’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.
And you may not find any you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town.
It’s opener there in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen and frequently do
to people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry, don’t stew.
Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.
Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true
that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.
You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a lurch.
You’ll come down from the lurch with an unpleasant bump.
And chances are, then, that you’ll be in a slump.
And when you’re in a slump, you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted, but mostly they’re darker.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out?
Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose?
How much can you win?
And if you go in, should you turn left or right…
Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused that you’ll start to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come,
or a plane to go or the mail to come,
or the rain to go or the phone to ring,
or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil,
or a better break
or a string of pearls,
or a pair of pants or a wig with curls,
or another chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places where boom bands are playing.
With banners flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!
Oh, the places you’ll go!
There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored.
There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.
I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet
things that scare you right out of your seat.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go though the weather be foul.
On you will go though your enemies prowl.
On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may squeak.
On and on you will hike.
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems whatever they are.
You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that life’s a great balancing act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)
Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum
or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!