|The Way Home|
9 x 12
Not For Sale
I woke that morning in April, made my coffee and sat down for my morning meditation and journaling. The first words on the page were "I hope all is well. I don't know where that thought came from." I decided I was going to pack up some things and go to the other side of town and work from my Dad's nursing home . I just felt I needed to be with him. Dad had a little cough, though Hospice didn't think it to be life threatening. I had to be at my sisters that evening for dinner anyway, so might as well get over to that side of town.
I sat with my Dad for the day. I had the blessing to feed him lunch. He napped off and on, but at one point, looked at his hand as if wondering what it was. I put lotion on his hands, rubbed his feet, fluffed pillows, etc. The aide had come by a couple of times to take him to shower, but said she would return later since I was there and he was dozing. As it got quiet in the afternoon, I worked a little on a painting I had started the day before. At about 4pm, Dad was suddenly on an urgent mission to get up and said "Let's go, Let's go Home". I helped him sit on the side of bed. The aide showed up the 3rd time to take him to bathe, so it was perfect timing. We put him in his wheelchair, I gave him a kiss on the forehead and off he went for a bath. I went to my sisters for our family dinner. All four siblings plus a niece and nephew were there too. About 7:45 pm, my north side siblings and I left for the long drive home. On the way home, the family received a call that my father had passed away. How amazing that we were all together at dinner when it happened.
Clearly, a guardian angel spoke to me that morning and sent me to be with my father. I spent his last day on earth with him, holding his hand and tending to him. In the days that followed, I realized the significance of what I had been painting. A path in the forest - a red dirt path leading to what appears to be a bright meadow beyond. Many Native American tribes had a belief in walking the right path of life - a red road. This is a prayer by Black Elk of the Lakota tribe:
"Hear me, four quarters of the world--a relative I am!
Give me the strength to walk the soft earth, a relative to all that is!
Give me the eyes to see and the strength to understand, that I may be like you.
With your power only can I face the winds.
Great Spirit, Great Spirit, my Grandfather,
all over the earth the faces of living things are all alike.
With tenderness have these come up out of the ground.
Look upon these faces of children without number and with children in their arms,
that they may face the wind and walk the good road to the day of quiet.
This is my prayer; hear me!"
"Black Elk's Prayer for All Life"*
How fitting that I was drawing a red road as my father prepared to walk his own road to the day of quiet. I miss you Daddy and always will...until I walk my last road. Happy 100th birthday.
* Black Elk, a widely known medicine man of the Oglala Lakota people (1863–1950), believed he had an obligation to "help to bring my people back into the sacred hoop, that they might again walk the red road in a sacred manner pleasing to the powers of the universe that are one power." (Source: Wikipedia)