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The Postscript: “Asking for Help”

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My dad doesn’t like asking for help.

He told me this recently when he asked if I could help him put out the dock. His knee was bothering him, and the dock was pulled up on shore at a steep incline. The dock frame was rolled into the water and then the boards of the dock were laid into place. It was a good job for two people and two sets of hands, especially since my dad’s knee is bothering him and he’s been legally blind for a number of years.
My dad doesn’t like asking for help, he told me. But lately he needs more of it than he used to. I know this embarrasses him. My dad is the kind of guy who can do a lot of things and solve a lot of problems. He built his house by himself—only getting assistance with the foundation and the roof. Everything in between, from the cabinets to the plumbing, he did himself. If I ask my dad how to solve a problem, he’ll take a pause as he visualizes what will be needed. He may not get back to me for a day or two. But when he does, he’s got it all worked out in his head. He must know that I have always admired him for the many things he can do and how well does them all.
But my dad turned 90 this year, and he’s had some heart troubles. His eyes have been a problem for years, and now this knee is acting up. It takes a toll on him. I know he gets tired of it and worries he’ll be able to do less and have to ask for more help.
“How does it feel, seeing your dad like this?” he asked me.
I didn’t know how to answer, because it feels good to see my dad whenever I see him, and I am glad I can help. Usually, I don’t feel I can do much to help my dad.
And I’m not sure he realizes he has been teaching me by his example all his life, and those lessons have not ended.
When I see him ask me for help—knowing it is hard for him, knowing he wishes he did not have to do it—he is teaching me another important lesson. It’s a lesson I need today. It’s a lesson I will need more in the years to come.
It is hard to ask for help, but it shows wisdom to ask when you need it. Asking in the way my father does makes it feel like a privilege to be helpful. I hope I can be as gracious when I need help—tomorrow, and for the rest of my life.
We put the dock together in no time. The perfectly spaced boards were easy to slide into place because my father had built them in his woodshop, taking care they would not fit too tightly or have too much space between them. It felt good to stand on the newly assembled dock, ready for another summer of listening to loons, and keeping track of who is on their pontoon boat and watching the summer sun go down late at night, so far north.
I wish I’d had a better answer on the tip of my tongue when he asked me how it felt to see him asking for help. I wanted to say it made me admire him more. It made me hopeful that someday I might be as patient and dignified as my dad.

Happy Father’s Day,

Carrie

To see photos, check out CarrieClassonAuthor on Facebook or visit CarrieClasson.com.

Carrie Classon

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