Sunday, December 27, 2015

Infused with Love

I had been to the hospital to visit my 86 year old father suffering from a multitude of health problems with sepsis from a severe urinary tract infection being the most frightening. I didn’t think he was going to pull through. My father’s breathing was severely labored as well, and I told the internist my father took an asthma preventative. I once took it’s lowest dose as I, too, have suffered from asthma. I believed that minimal dose wouldn’t be adequate, but I was unsure if the higher dose I suggested was accurate.

As I stepped toward the medication drawer in my father’s room, my sister-in-law stood in the doorway. She tips the scales at around 400 pounds. That along with her crossed arms created an imposing image. Caroline’s goal was to intimidate and monitor my every move with the assumption I did not belong in “her” house (as she put it) – the house I grew up in.  Nor did she believe I had any rights and privileges in the house I once came and went freely in - unchaperoned and trusted.

I had known my brother and his wife didn’t trust me alone in the house as my brother was also monitoring my visits in the computer room while I prepared my interview demos during a serious job hunt. It was a terrifying chapter in my life with thieving not even registering as a thought. Securing a job, on the other hand, took priority over all matters. 

I was confused by this suspicion as I grew up in that house, visited as an adult. I frequently borrowed the computer and printer for my assignments while pursuing my earlier education without the need for a chaperone ever; but then, my sister-in-law wasn’t in the picture. 

My brother knows my character, I thought. What is this about? Why is he treating me like a common thief; OR what are THEY hiding that they are guarding? Between job hunting and my father’s health, these questions had to wait.

I stuffed the asthma medication into my coat pocket in a brief, unmonitored moment. The only way to learn the dose was to remove the medication from his room like the very thief I was being accused of being; and check it later when free from my sister-in-law’s gaze and judgment.

As I prepared to push my 140 pound self through the 400 pound wall blocking the only exit, I again spied the shiny coin. It glinted a wink of light in my direction. Caroline caught my gaze and also looked at the coin. I imagined she wanted to spin an unfavorable story about that as well. 

What she didn’t know was my father started me collecting coins years ago. He brought me coins back from the different countries he traveled to for his work. I saved them, and started a dedicated hobby that continued for several years. I had a natural curiosity, as a result. 




I took the medicine with me to the hospital. As it turned out, my father had been prescribed the lowest dose although I wondered why. I told the internist the correct dosage indicated on the inhaler and returned the medication to my brother at a later time.  

Disappeared 

My father battled the sepsis with success and returned home from the hospital in a week’s time. He was still weakened and sick, but no longer had skin sporting a bluish-white pallor. He was on the mend. 

I visited my father with some regularity during that time. On one particular visit, he asked me if I had seen the coin in the jar near the doorway. I said I hadn’t had a chance to look closely at it, but that I had noticed it. Curious about his question, I stood up and looked into the jar. It was gone. The coin was gone. I looked all around that area and couldn’t locate it. Just then, I knew what had happened.

I said honestly, “I don’t know where the coin is.” He didn’t respond right away. He finally said it was from the Philippines, but it wasn’t worth much. That sounded like he was telling me the coin he was told I had stolen was worthless, so I wasted my time stealing it.


I was shocked. She set me up. My sister-in-law had stolen the coin in order to set me up. What was worse is my father took her word over mine. AND even worse yet, he believed I stole from him.

Infusion

Caroline had taken over my mom’s bedroom. There were stacks as tall as I am surrounding a chair and computer where she spent much of her time. She is a hoarder and collects dollar store items which transform into mountains even her large frame is eclipsed by.

She stashed the coin away where she had piled all my mom’s beloved photos and mementos of me and my brothers into a thoughtless collection juxtaposed a pile of shoes. It broke my heart that all Mom’s devotion was reduced to hill that meant as much to my sister-in-law as old shoes. The coin by chance was placed under a very special photo of my mom hugging me.  

Love

My mom and I had a powerful bond. She loved me with her whole heart, and she was the brightest light in my life. That photo was infused with that same love.

The coin was touched by the warmth and devotion captured on film. As a result, it came alive with the purpose of reverting a terrible injustice. Slowly, yet with the strength of truth and an impenetrable bond, the coin rose up to the top of a junk mountain.

As my father was making his way back from a bathroom visit one evening, he was overtaken by a feeling of love radiating from my mom's old room. It was as if she were right there beaming at him. He looked toward the source of this emotion and spotted a glint of light beckoning him over. It was a coin. THE coin. The very coin Caroline had accused me of stealing.

It was then everything became clear. He remembered what kind of person his daughter was before the lies and accusations flowed against her - The goodness she represented that he once believed in, and the fact she had never stolen from him before. It was the love infused in the coin that showed him the way back to the truth he once knew. 

Changes


I now have all my mom’s pictures and mementos previously in a heap by my sister-in-law's shoes. They reside in my home where they can be appreciated and continue to bring a most special warmth and comfort to my life.


I would like to say there was a fairy tale ending for my father and myself, but he offered at least to listen to me and engage in honest dialog toward the goal of healing.

The coin is now encased in a frame along with the photograph of my mom and I. Its home is on my father’s night table as a reminder of the two women in his life whose love told the truth.

My sister-in-law, well - I know she lacks the confidence to get what she wants on her own, but I understood my brother became frustrated with funding her hoarding. She is now working part-time to help. Most importantly, she doesn't dare degrade me - at least not openly. I am even hopeful she will get the therapeutic help she needs to address the insecurities that drove her to create great suffering for me. 


And me….This is the first time I have truly felt respected and understood by my family since my mom died. It had been an impossible situation where my value had been negated and my voice silenced, that is, until the magic of the coin, and the power of love prevailed.





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