My Dad turned 75 yesterday, so last week I took him to my sister’s house in bucolic Niagara-on-the-Lake, a quaint little town in southern Ontario. One of the pleasures of working for yourself is the luxury of taking time off when you want. No boss to please, no vacation slips to fill out. My Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer seven years ago, and it metastasized in that area. There is no mass to remove, just cancerous cells that were kept at bay with hormone therapy until last year. His PSA count kept doubling every two weeks, so he finally went through chemotherapy. It knocked the stuffing out of him, but the PSA came way down. He has to go for a bone scan every three months. I nipped down to Montreal to take him last month. We playedScrabble (the Garrett game of choice) for a couple of hours while the dye spread throughout his body for the scan. Thankfully, this bone scan was clear. Another reprieve from the inevitable.
I beat the pants off him, as I have done all winter, which is the strongest indication of his age. He never let my sister or me win as youngsters, and he was a Scrabble master. Now he carelessly puts tiles next to triples and doesn’t take advantage of double words. It’s this – more than forgetfulness in everyday conversation – that gives me clues about his state.
So I try to see him as much as I can, as the time is precious. Time. It always was precious, but now that I have more of it, I notice.
It is delicious to squander time though. Some mornings I lie around in bed with my little grey kitty cat and my hubby for an hour, lazily chatting and playing on my iPad. My laser-focused executive self has given way to a slower pace, to stopping to pat the other cat before I leave the house because she always rolls over for a tummy rub.
My sister has a high-powered job and is bug-eyed from overwork and stress. I listened to her this weekend with a mix of compassion and wonder. It doesn’t have to be this way, I thought. This work doesn’t feed her soul. But she’s good at it and it pays a whack of money. And there’s the issue for many of us. We want the paycheque and the shiny things that go with it, even if we want a different life.
I did it too. It’s weird to walk away. I feel like I am talking to people still mired in that world through a tunnel. Their words remind me of something, and it isn’t what I want to remember.
Kellie Garrett, ACC, MC, ICD.D
Speaker ~ Coach ~ Strategist