Just after Thanksgiving, my dad hurt his back. Small piece of advice: Never get injured over the holidays when your regular doctor just left the practice. To make a long story short, he ended up losing feeling in his leg and by the time someone finally saw him, the doctor was upset he hadn’t been immediately admitted to the emergency room. As he went into surgery, he was given a twenty percent chance of spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair and a strong likelihood of never completely recovering the use of his leg.
Much to everyone’s delight, two days after surgery he had already recovered more than the doctor had hoped he would after a week of physical therapy so he was released early. While he was quite happy to be walking already, he was also obviously a bit stir crazy. He had a month off work with nothing to do but fret about what would happen if he were to fall and to try to entertain himself with Sudoku and the endless channel offerings of U-Verse.
So I offered up my ten year old daughter who about hit the ceiling with excitement when I told her she was going to go babysit grandpa for a week and a half while he recovered. She began planning activities ranging from puppet shows to building model airplanes and collected some recipes in order to cook some meals for him.
I began collecting materials for her to work on. Things educational that she could nonetheless accomplish on her own with nothing more than the direction to go do them. A bit of spelling. Some math practice. Some reading. I was contemplating whether or not I should send along some history of some sort when I realized that I was missing something larger than the schedule I feel hopelessly behind on.
After all, this is part of why we homeschool: family.
What greater lesson could she learn than service to those around her? What greater memories could she build than in spending such a special time ministering to someone she loves? And what lessons were in any of those books and worksheets that couldn’t be made up later?
I’m learning. But the impulse is still there and can be frighteningly strong at times.
Oh, and after she came home, we let her purchase another life lesson with her savings and (quite) a bit thrown in from mom and dad.
Clarification: That photo of the adorable little bundle in my dad’s arms is an old photo. That little L. E. Fant will be two in April. I just couldn’t find any other pictures with my Mouse and my dad together.