GO DAD GO! by Meredith Mileti | Madhu Bazaz Wangu
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GO DAD GO! by Meredith Mileti

GO DAD GO! by Meredith Mileti

For the last several months I’ve been traveling between Pittsburgh and Boca Raton to help nurse my dad as he battles the challenging complications of a chronic illness.   Although lately I haven’t been able to devote as much time to my writing as I would like, every day I try to practice what I’ve learned in Mindful Writers Group with whom I practice the Writing Method Meditation. Never before has the Method, which includes Journaling and Meditation, been more important to me. Journaling allows me to create quick emotional sketches that provide insight into what I am feeling. Meditation sharpens my focus, while also centering and calming me. Together the two practices help me understand and accept the next steps in this difficult journey. Being mindfully present with my Dad makes me thankful for my time on this earth, in this body, by allowing me to appreciate more fully the countless small joys that make up each day.

Although I have been a Mindful Writer for nearly two years, nursing my father has allowed me to fully apply and appreciate what I have learned. Unable to breathe on his own, or enjoy a meal since January, to witness him savoring his first ice chip in months with an expression of total concentration and bliss-yes, bliss-is a powerful lesson in mindfulness. To watch him experiencing joy out of a shrinking arsenal of senses has taught me to appreciate every sip, every breath, every pleasure, no matter how modest, and every moment we have together.

Like most men of his culture and generation, Dad would shake his head at the thought of meditation. But I know if he practiced it he would be good at it. His world has shrunk to one room. Yet the space within, the place of his memories and experiences is expansive. When we are together, I find myself focusing on my past with him-pleasant, funny and enjoyable memories: our legendary Saturday marketing trips, our first trip to Florence, teaching me to make calzones in my grandparents’ closet-sized kitchen.  

I’m fortunate because throughout my life, my father often talked about his childhood, so I have a ready cache of memories of his early life from which to draw comfort for us both: the egg creams at St. Clair’s in the Bronx, the enormous Sunday lunches at his aunt’s house, and the stretch of beach in Montauk where my father learned to drive at age 11 (taught by his much older brother), the memory of which I used to my advantage years later when I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel.   (Dad managed to hold out until I was 14!)

The ability to take him back in time of his youth-to happier, easier, more hopeful times-has been a gift for us both. As I tell him the stories of his own childhood and my childhood with him, I can tell by the way his brow unfurrows, his hands unclench, his eyes widen in rapture or surprise that he is there, wiping the froth of the egg cream from his lips, feeling the sand in between his toes as he eases out the clutch with legs long enough to reach the pedals. Go Dad, go!

My father has been one of my greatest teachers.   He continues to teach me by example. Wherever the journey leads him and me; no matter how difficult or unsettling the process; there is an ephemeral beauty in getting there.

Mindfulness has helped me observe my Dad attentively. Memories of our times together are a gift that I will always be thankful for.

Postscript:   Shortly after the completion of this blog post, Robert Mileti passed away peacefully on May 29, 2013.  

  • Lisa Diane Kastner

    This is absolutely gorgeous and what a wonderful dedication and meditation to and on your father. I’m sure he’s smiling down on us now, thinking of the same memories you so eloquently shared.
    My heart and thoughts are with you.

    May 31, 2013 at 12:24 pm
  • Fred Connors

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us Meredith. God be with you.

    May 31, 2013 at 12:44 pm
  • What a wonderful tribute to your father, Meredith. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    May 31, 2013 at 1:28 pm
  • MaryAlice Meli

    A truly, mindful memorial, Meredith. And as he helped you to spread your wings at your beginning so, too, did you help him to do the same at his ending.

    May 31, 2013 at 1:56 pm
  • What a lovely tribute to your dad, Meredith. Sending you long distance hugs until I can see you to give you a real one.

    May 31, 2013 at 3:28 pm
  • Jon Saari

    Beautifully written from your loving heart.

    May 31, 2013 at 7:17 pm
  • It is important to note that whoever was born to responsible parents never notices that until when they have departed

    June 2, 2013 at 12:37 am
  • Our thoughts are with you, Meredith. Thank you for sharing this very personal moment with us.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:47 pm
  • This is a beautiful reminder that our journey isn’t over with death. Thanks so much for sharing this intimate journey with us.

    June 3, 2013 at 7:06 am
  • Bob Konig

    What a fantastic tribute to your dad, and your own writing abilities.

    June 3, 2013 at 11:35 am
  • Kerra Penn

    Meredith, I am so sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing this very personal tribute to your father. You and your father were both lucky – and destined – to experience the love that you shared with each other. He was there to greet you when you were born into this world and you were there when he said goodbye. I hope you can take some comfort in the sacred beauty of that unspoken agreement between you.

    June 3, 2013 at 12:38 pm
  • Darlene Chan

    I am so sorry to hear about your dad’s passing Meredith. You were such a wonderful and loving daughter, doing all you could to take care of him these last years. What a lovely tribute you have written to him. I feel I got to know him and get a glimpse of his personality. Thank you for writing this. My heart is with you and your family.

    June 6, 2013 at 10:42 am
  • Thanks to all for your warm words of comfort and condolence. They are very much appreciated.

    June 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm

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