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Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
Speaking Information at (727) 467-0202 or e-mail info@fawngermer.com

World’s Most Inspiring Senior Citizen is Making Me Crazy

163060_482212606271_621326271_6042778_4362212_nMy father is the world’s worst patient. In the hours after I brought him home from the hospital after his pacemaker surgery, he wouldn’t sit still. It was like I was chasing a toddler around the house.

“Where are you?” I called out as I searched for him. One minute, he was in the living room. The next minute, his office.

“Daddy, sit down! Take a nap!”

“I’m resting!” he hollered out to me.

“Where are you?”

“The laundry room. I need to get these towels out of the dryer…”

“Good grief! Come here!” I scolded, but by then, he was off organizing something in the kitchen.

Everybody roots for the incorrigible Fred Germer to just keep on keeping on, especially if his kids are trying to slow him down. He is the most inspiring character I have ever seen – an 83-year-old licensed pharmacist who works at Vanguard Advanced Pharmacy Systems in Bradenton, Fl. I spoke at Dad’s company Christmas party two years ago and watched as every single employee hugged “Mr. Fred,” who is their company mascot.

Dad has to be the only person on earth who has never bitched about his job, his paycheck, his boss, his customers, his schedule or his aching feet. Never.

He didn’t want the pacemaker because he didn’t want to miss work.

“Are you kidding me?” I calmly asked him the first time we discussed his decision to ignore  the cardiologist’s recommendation.

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” I yelled the 20th time I brought it up.

He finally relented and got his pacemaker a week ago. His recovery has been unexpectedly difficult because the doctor cleared him for all activity – including driving – which in his mind meant he was 100 percent good to go. Forget prudence. Dad was driving the day after he got out of the hospital – visiting my mom in the nursing home – and driving to the park for a 30-minute walk. I’m pretty sure he also went to Publix and got his car washed. He claims he has rested a lot, but that was never witnessed by anyone, and he’s been known to make up stuff like that.

What I know is that the last eight days have been marked by numerous dizzy spells, strained breathing and a fall. That’s the stuff he’s copped to. I’m sure there are other problems that my brother and I know nothing about. The pacemaker’s fine. He’s got other medical issues now, but he refuses to slow down.

I want to love him enough to let him live this stage of his life the way he wants to live it. I want to support his desire to work until his very last breath. But he’s getting weaker, and I am scared he will get hurt. I want to protect him like he always protected me. I want to make him safe. He perceives any protective measures as a challenge to his independence – and he won’t stand for that. I have come to realize that his bad judgment may be the end of him, but he doesn’t care. He’s playing his own end game.

You may be cheering for him in your head – rooting for the guy who defies his well-meaning but restrictive kids – and I probably would be too, if we weren’t talking about my own precious father. He’s the only dad I’ve got – and I want to keep him alive. I need him.

This is a hard moment. I feel fear. Big, scary fear, because I worry that Mom and Dad’s reasons for living are so tied together that, when one leaves, the other will follow. My precious mother has been severely disabled for 20 years, and I have no doubt that the only reason she lingers now in the end stages of Alzheimer’s is because she doesn’t want to miss any of dad’s visits.

A couple of months ago, a bunch of my friends rented a house at the beach near Dad’s house. He joined us for breakfast, and Daddy was such a hit that everyone insisted I bring him back for dinner.

“He’s so inspiring,” my friend Terri said. “He makes us feel good about ourselves.”

That’s what he does for this world.

For years, Dad has told me: “I love you, care about you and appreciate you.” He calls every night and says those exact words. I am so afraid of what will happen when I don’t hear his voice reminding me how much I matter.

There are a lot of people who make me feel loved, but really, the voice that matters most is Daddy’s.

I want to keep him alive forever, but he won’t let me try.

2 Comments
  1. Fawn, let your Daddy go and do, it’s when he stops moving that you need to worry because that will mean he is giving up. Our will to live is the strongest human spirit on earth. Giving up that spirit will be his choice and no one can change that. As we get older, we still look at our world through young eyes…our hearts, souls, spirits…whatever you want to call it, does not age. Be happy for your daddy…he still has his will to live! Let him live it his way. And have a lot of fun with him! You can’t control his physical well-being but you can sure make him SMILE! Love you, Granma

  2. Fawn… I remember you as a child when you came into the store in Flint. I worked for this precious man for many years, and I believe that my husband and Fred Germer are the most inspiring men I have ever met. I called your father when I moved to Bradenton after retiring and leaving Flint, and I was fortunate to have talked to your brother, Jim, when I discovered that his office was next door to a doctor I visited. I asked about you and your work, and he spoke proudly of your career and books. Unfortunately, Mr. Germer, never would I call him anything else, said that he was leaving for work when I called, but he would return my call. He did not return my call, but I wanted to tell you that I agree with every word you print about this wonderful man and your lovely mother. I think of them often, and I wanted to let you know that they, and their kindnesses to me, will remain with me forever. Mary

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