Life goes on, but differently
09.02.2012 -15 °C
The paths of life are unpredictable. You can play with an idea to change something in your life, go as far as making concrete plans and getting support from people around you, and suddenly something happens. And that something changes everything. But not quite in the way you wanted to. So you go back to the drawing board and start again.
In November last year, I started studying for a Masters degree. Having a busy and demanding job, it soon became apparent that the only way I can complete my studies is to somehow get more time off. I toyed with the idea of going part-time, but discussions with several people in my company made me to consider an unpaid leave. And if unpaid leave, then properly. A couple of months later, I am slowly but surely coming to the end of my current assignment and getting ready to start my one year leave of absence in March.
To those of you who follow our posts, this is somewhat in contradiction to the Duke’s and my plans to jet around the world for a year or two. The Duke, however, got himself a work challenge that required him to be around this year and so we decided to focus on a few shorter trips rather than one long one. It is not to say we are no longer going travelling. It might just take a little bit longer before we get there. So in the mean time, I thought I will do something interesting alongside my decreasingly interesting job.
When planning my unpaid leave, I saw it as an ideal opportunity to also sign up for a German and Russian language courses, get back to the gym, paint a little, do some photography, have more time for the Duke and my friends and generally just enjoy being at home. The highlight of my leave would then be a few months long field trip to Russia or China, where I would do research on the topic of innovation in microfinance for my Masters dissertation. These were the plans.
My dad has, however, decided otherwise. Never one to miss on an opportunity to get some attention, he got himself a stroke. And when stroke, then properly. Instead of a small cerebrovascular accident, he got himself an extensive intra-axial hemorrhage into the right brain hemisphere. It was in fact so serious that the doctors did not see the point of operating and instead, suggested we all say our good-byes to him.
The only problem was that they did not know my dad. If you think you know someone or are someone of an exceptionally strong will, you should meet my dad. Coming from a very humble agricultural background in the former Czechoslovakia, through sheer determination and despite huge obstacles continuously supplied by the communist regime, he managed to build a successful career in the construction industry and after the fall of the iron curtain, to become a successful entrepreneur who dedicated his life to making sure his family is taken care of. He is someone who woke up one day, after a lifetime of smoking and decided he would not smoke again. And he didn’t. For a few years. Until he woke up another day fourteen years later and decided he would quite like a cigarette again.
Despite his critical state and pessimistic predictions from the doctors, my dad is a force to be reckoned with. He is a fighter. After two days in the hospital, the doctors, surprised but encouraged by his determination to live decided to operate. Each and every single day, my dad has been showing tiny, but for us incredibly important improvements. Our favourite thing he does now is yawning. Still unconscious after a month in the ER unit, my dad has many of the involuntary physical reactions we all posses like reaction to pain, to cold and even to tickling on his feet. Yawning, however, is our all time favourite.
I will abuse my position of speaking English whilst he cannot read this and can only speak Czech, and tell you why. Imagine a slight man in his mid sixties with shaven head and without teeth (doctors had to remove his dentures after the accident), lying on his back and involuntarily starting to open up and then curl his mouth to the point his lips look as if they were to swallow themselves, courtesy of the extra space provided by the missing teeth. You will get a Popeye-like image. Priceless and extremely endearing.
I am convinced my dad will get better. It might and almost certainly will take time but I cannot help to feel positive about the future. Some of you might find my constructive and matter of fact way of writing this post insensitive. Let me assure you, it is not. It is just my way of writing about things that we cannot influence.
The day of the accident, the Duke and I drove from Germany to the south of Czech and spent the first week with my family, going to the hospital whenever it was allowed. Since then, my life has evolved around working in Frankfurt during the week and driving or flying to Czech at the weekend. Weeks seem to be much longer than in the past and so I cannot wait when my unpaid leave kicks in and I can be more flexible when I see my dad and am with my family. And this is where I had to go back into the proverbial drawing-board and have a long and critical look at my plans.
So instead of leading a studious life of leisure spiked by the occasional trip, I have become a nomad. Still, I have not given up on sharing my experiences with you guys out there and that is why I am writing this post. My nomadic lifestyle has brought with it the unplanned perk of spending a lot of time in Bohemia, a land of beautiful natural scenery, currently engulfed by extremely cold temperatures. My next trip home is this Saturday and this time, I intend to take my camera with me to share some of the views with you so watch the space.