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Vist of an old friend

Posted by markdohle , 23 July 2006 · 149 views

An old friend came to visit me last night with his son Mike.  I have known Fred for over 30 years, 33 to be exact.  He was a coach, a very good one from what I have heard, and he also did some writing on the subject.  I have read some of his articles, and he was also good at that as well.  I have always experienced Fred as a man of depth and intelligence, with a dry sense of humor, and who also speaks his mind if something is not to his liking.

He used to visit me around Christmas every year, usually the week before, and we would spend some time together.  Then we would spend more time shopping for his large family. He had a bunch of kids, and from all accounts, the family was for the most part happy, and he seemed to love being a father.  I remember on one of his visits during a conversation, he stopped, looked at me, and said: “You know, before I became a father, I did not understand how much a parent can love their children.  I love them so much it hurts”.   So you can see he was a sensitive type, though from looking at him you would not intuit it right away, he was a coach after all.  He was also sensitive to those whom he coached, since he knew the damage done to some boys, and girls, who were constantly overlooked because of their lack of proficiency in sports. He never lost sight of encouraging all of those for whom he coached, and for that he is greatly loved and respected by many.  

In the late 80’s he started to develop some trouble in his right leg, and would limp at times, and it would also cause him some pain.  Then he started having some trouble with one of his hands.  This did worry me, and on his trips we would discuss it from time to time.  One of the things that aggravated him was the fact that the doctors could not tell him what the matter was.   On one visit, we were in Penny’s looking for gifts, and he was using a cain to help him keep his balance.  As I was watching him a thought went through my mind, a very unpleasant one.  I was wondering if he had ALS, a truly dreaded disease, and as I was thinking about it, he stopped, looked at me and asked this question:  “do you think I have ALS”.  Well we were on the same page I guess, and I prayed that it was not so.

About a year later, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.  In one way he was relieved to at last know what it was that he had, but he also dreaded the ravages this disease would do to him, and the affect it would have on his family.  Over the years the family has faced many trails.  His wive taking the brunt of much of it since the children are grown and have families of their own.  From what Mike told me, she is starting to take better care of herself, and knows now when to ask for help, she has learned of the dangers of burn out.

When Fred was starting to take some of the meds, for a time it did have a detrimental affect on his personality which did cause a great deal of stress for the family, but over time that was taken care of.   So right along with Fred, Fran also has suffered and adapted to a very difficult situation.  Fran herself is a very special person, and like her husband has great faith deeply rooted in her love of Christ, and drawing strength from that relationship.  

Over the years his trips lessened, and stopped all together for a while.  So at this time in his life he is in a wheel chair, and electric one, and seems to do well with it.  Though for now, he is having trouble driving it on his own. His son walks by his side and steers the chair for him.  He also told me that he can’t read anymore, can’t hold on to a book, and from the tone of his voice I could tell that it pained him.  He watches TV, and he said that there are many good things to watch, and old movies which he loves also.  He watches nature stations, BBC, and of course the news.   So at least there is something to feed his mind.  I for one hate day time television on the regular channels, brain rot for the most part.  At least cable and satellite give more choices for their viewers.

  It is hard to see a once strapping, strong, yet gentle man, reduced to this state.  He suffers greatly but his faith keeps him strong, and he seems to be doing ok with it.  When I saw him last night, he did look a little better than he did on his last trip, but it will always pain me to see him like that.   He was worried that he was becoming dependent or perhaps addicted to his pain medication.  After a few questions I was able to calm his fears.  His pain meds are not that strong, and he takes them three times a day.   I think the problem is his pain is increasing, and he is afraid to ask for something stronger.  It is hard for him to admit that he will most likely need pain control meds for the rest of his life, and addiction is not an issue, he simply needs them in order to be able to get through the day.  He will think it through like he does everything else, and come up with a rational response, he is like that.

His oldest son Mike is great with him, showing a great deal of love and patience with his father. He was inherited his fathers caring nature, and is in fact a teacher and a coach, like his dad was.  While he is taller than his father, there is still a strong resemblance, and he has learned from his father to be a caring and loving human being.  He tries to do things with his father, and knows that it is important to get him out and about from time to time.  I know Fred loves the time he has with Mike who is his oldest son, and perhaps the one he feels closest to.  Love has a price, both for the parents who perhaps love their children so much that it hurts, as well as for the son who willingly sacrifices time to be with his father.  We can tell how much we love by the amount of time we are willing to spend with them, even if something else has to be let go of for a time.

Yes Mike does his father proud, and Fran is truly a good and loving wife.

Aging is not fair at all.  Not one bit.
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QUOTE(coldethyl @ Jul 23 2006, 01:25 PM)

Aging is not fair at all.  Not one bit.

Well it is difficult, especially with the disease he has.

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