Thursday, February 14, 2008

HARDER ON MY FATHER

The word love has so many meanings that it has almost become meaningless. When someone tells you that they love you what are they saying? Really, you don’t know until you see how they act towards you. I can tell my wife a hundred times that I love her, but it is my actions that tell the real story. One of my two sisters said to me once, “Your love is like having money in the bank that you can’t ever withdraw when you need it.”
This blog is not about romantic love. It is about loving a person with a mental illness. It is about being a family member of a person with a mental illness and loving them while feeling helpless.
My thoughts have gone to my father many times over the past few weeks. He was raised in a family in the eastern part of Kentucky and they were poor to say the least. A home without warmth from the winter cold and the bitter realities of growing up. He never learned how to show the love he felt. Mom never got what she needed from him for her heart. He simply did not know how.
When faced with a son who had a mental illness he did not know what to do. I was the youngest of his three children and my two sisters had basically gone along with the program. Now he was faced with a problem he did not understand. A problem child. Even with all his education and being a teacher and school principal he had not faced a kid like me. He probably had, but they had most likely simply dropped out or gone away. I did not go away. I was his problem because I was his kid.
My illness was harder on my father than it was on me. My father suffered more than I did about my mental illness. I got breaks. I would get so sick I did not care. My father always cared. So did the rest of the people who loved me. So does my wife today. Sometimes still my illness is harder on my wife than me.
He died in 1989 without ever seeing me doing as well as I am now. Don’t get me wrong the road is still full of potholes. Just ask my wife, but I have put together a fairly good dozen or so years. I just hope those folks who loved me that have already gone on ahead are looking back on this day we celebrate love and saying, “The old guy is doing better.”
You can reach me directly at edcooper@projectdreamagain.com
{Being on this resource list does not imply their endorsement of this BLOG.}
www.mentalhealthministries.net
www.pathways2promise.org
www.mentalhealthchaplain.org
www.annafoundation.org
www.ncmentalhope.org
www.faithnet.nami.org

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