The heart is a miraculous organ. Aristotle and other early philosophers of antiquity believed the heart was the center of all of the functions of the body. Aristotle believed that the heart was at the core of all human emotion and sensation. Anatomically, Aristotle was wrong. However, even in the 21st century, the heart continues to symbolize human passions, desires, commitments, and love. We have many sayings that express such sentiments:
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
“Listen to your heart.”
“Above all else, guard your heart.”
“Wear your heart on your sleeve.”
“That kid has a lot of heart.”
“Home is where the heart is.”
Home is certainly where my heart is right now. Last night I received the news (via facebook!) that my dad had heart attack. My Aunt very graciously told me that everything is okay… that he will be okay… but that he was in ICU and had already had a stent inserted to relieve the blockage. About an hour after I received the news, I wrote this: “As you can imagine – being so far away… it is hard to put into words what this feels like. I am scared. And relieved. Worried. And hopeful. I was able to talk to my dad for a few minutes – and also to my mom. He told me very clearly to trust him and to NOT come home. I love him, respect him… and I do trust him. But it is hard to not be there. And to be so far away.” I found out more news today. One of his arteries was 100% blocked. They do not know yet the extent of the damage, but they anticipate that he will make a 100% recovery. I can’t even begin to express the relief that this makes me feel. Apparently my dad is doing so well and in such good spirits that he keeps giving my mom a hard time about the fact that the artery which was affected is called the “widow maker” because (according to Wikipedia) “if the artery gets abruptly and completely occluded it will cause a massive heart attack and will likely lead to death.” I, like my mother, do not think that such teasing is funny (at all!). Nonetheless, I am incredibly thankful that he is doing so well.
All of this, of course, helps provide perspective about what is important in life. I have thought a thousand times over the past 24 hours how lucky I am to have such incredibly amazing parents – who believe in me, love me, and have provided for me in so many ways. And who similarly love, support and care for my siblings (even though I am their favorite and they have loved me the longest – an unarguable fact)! I certainly have not told my parents enough how much I love them and value them and how proud I am of the example they make for me in life. In reflecting about my dad, I thought this might be a good time to put to paper some of the lessons that he has taught me over the years. These are only a few…
Brush your teeth, wash your face, spray your pits: I have (embarrassingly!) heard my dad say this a gazillion times. Almost every time, from when I was very little (AND when he still says it today!), I roll my eyes and say “oh, dad!” But thankfully, he (and my mom, too) taught me the joys of personal hygiene. Which albeit has been a little more difficult living in the Middle East with limited access to hot water and any type of decent water pressure!
It is always harder to be good: Sigh, I wish that this were not so true. WHY IS IT SO HARD TO BE GOOD? It seems to take more time and energy – “being good”, at least for me, doesn’t come naturally in any way, shape, or form.
Make a memory: This expression (and family motto) has become so influential that my little sister decided to have it tattooed on her wrist – as if she needed to be reminded! We have made such incredibly wonderful memories over the years as a family together… Scuba diving in the Caymans, Bonaire, and throughout the Caribbean. When the kids were younger, I used to tease that our family Scuba diving vacations were the best – because we all got along so well when we are underwater all day! Except for the time that dad’s tank malfunctioned and was running out of air… when he gave Jeffrey the sign for “no air” – Jeffrey swam the other way. This past week is not the only time that my dad has escaped a near death experience.
Give, give, and then give some more: This isn’t so much a saying that dad would repeat… he just lived it. My dad is one of the most giving people I have ever met. As he has run and managed a company over the past 30 years or so, I am constantly in awe of the way he loves and cares for his employees and even people he doesn’t know. I once wrote that my dad is a better pastor than many pastors I know… which couldn’t be more true. Often in management situations, my dad first and foremost cares for his people, even if it wasn’t the “best” business decision… I, and I am sure many others, wish that I could be more like my dad in this way! Even when people have hurt him, deeply and personally, his response is one that is slow to anger and responds with kindness, giving, and love. I am thankful that my dad has taught me about what it means to love…
Love so much that it hurts and then love more: I wish that love didn’t hurt so much. I wonder if one of life’s greatest fears is the fear of losing people we love. I am so incredibly thankful that I don’t have to face this fear tonight. I am sure that some people struggle with the fear of not being loved. I am one of the most fortunate people that I know – I have never had to wonder – not even once – what that would feel like.