What’s Your Worst Day Ever? (Part 1)

What was the worst day of your life?

I have several that seem to be tied in my top number one priority list. There is a reason why I am asking this question. If you think about it, how did you handle the worst day of your life? What kept you on track and focused, or did you collapse underthe stress of your situation? Are you still feeling the sting of your misfortune? Well, let’s look at some of my biggies and see how you feel about yours after seeing mine!

My biggest if not the one that rocked my world with the most pain is when my dad died unexpectedly at the age of 69. My dad was a career military man, he spent 30 + years in the army, towing his wife and 4 children along around the world. I didn’t get to know my dad like most of you knew yours. My dad was gone most of the time on army business, and I never got to know him like I wanted. If you only knew how I wanted a dad like Ward Cleaver of Leave It To Beaver, Ozzie Nelson of the Ozzie and Harriet Show or Jim Anderson on Father Knows Best. I longed for my dad to be like the TV Dad’s that did stuff with their kids. I didn’t get to know my dad until I was out of college, and well after he retired from the army.

We got to know each other through our fishing trips to northern Minnesota, during the summer. I ate up any time with my dad, just spending some time with my dad helped me understand and get to know him better. I started calling him and checking in on him week to week as we got to know each other. The only time I would spend with him was when Christmas rolled around, I would head to Chicago from Watertown, Wisconsin, stay a few days and head back home. This went on for several years.

Then in March of 1984, I called and ask to speak to my dad, my mom said he was on errands and would be back later in the afternoon. I called later and she said that he just left and was at the grocery store. Every time I called the house he was never there, my mom always had an excuse for him not being home. Then, I flat out asked what is going on, and where is dad? She finally broke down and said that he was in the hospital with some kind of infection. Ok, which hospital I asked! She told me and I called him from the clinic I was working at. He answered the phone in his room and I asked him what’s going on. My dad said that the doctors had found a lung infection, and were keeping him in isolation. I asked him if they thought it was tuberculosis? He said that they thought so, and would keep him a few more days. I told my dad I would call him back the next day. That’s when I found out that he had lung cancer.

I asked my dad one of the dumbest questions I have ever asked, “dad, how do you feel after the doctor telling you that you have lung cancer”? He said that he was going to fight this and get better, so he could go fishing. My dad lived for walleye fishing in Minnesota his boyhood state. He had over 50 years experience of fishing, and lived for it each summer since he retired from the army.

So, dad and I had to talk about his options for treatment, one was Chemo, another radiation, or surgery with Chemo. My dad opted for the partial lung removal surgery. We talked about it, went through the risks with the lung specialists, his family doctor and then picked a day for surgery. The operation went incredibly well, recovery went fine, he was healing well. He went home 5 days after the surgery, and was talking about his fishing trip in May as he did his Physical therapy. I spent a few days with my parents making sure everything in place and him being comfortable. I then headed back to Wisconsin.

My wife and daughter went to church that Wednesday evening. I had just got back from men’s softball practice when I decided that I would give my mom a call just to see how my dad was doing. When we talked she said that his blood pressure was down a little bit and that he would be fine, but they had to admit him just to make sure he was OK. I didn’t want to call him at the hospital and bother him, so I went and sat down in my chair and rested. 20 minutes later the phone rang, I picked it up only to hear my sister screaming on the other end of the line that “DAD WAS DYING, DAD IS DYING”. Then she hung up the phone! Can you imagine what would go through someone’s mind after getting that kind of phone call, and not being able to ask questions! I paced the floor, and started making bargains with God, just to keep my dad alive so I could drive down to Chicago and say good-bye to him. Your mind, body, even your soul goes ballistic, nothing makes any sense, your world is torn apart, and then you ask why..why..why??? The doctors said that he would have a long a fruitful life, he would enjoy years of walleye fishing in Minnesota, and enjoy watching his family grow up. I walked in circles on the main floor wondering what was going on, then the phone rang, my heart raced with the fear of bad news I was going to hear. I slowly picked up the phone and placed the receiver to my ear, only to hear my oldest brother say in an exasperated and quivering voice that “dad is gone”. I dropped the phone and fell to my knees and started to sob, just as my 6 year old daughter walked into the front door with my wife right behind her. She jumped on my back and started to cry as well, not knowing why her daddy was crying. I explained through the tears that her grandpa had just died.

When I had time alone and composed myself, I asked God what was the purpose of taking my dad just when I was starting to get to know him as an adult? That night I drove my family down to Chicago to be with my mom and help her out with funeral arrangments. The funeral plans were made the next day, and our family waited for the Friday evening visitation the next day. At the visitation is when I found out that my dad was a wonderful and incredible man from people I never knew. Many of my dads friends came up to me and had told stories on how my dad helped them in so many ways. He gave money when people were down on their luck, he brought grocery’s for many who had no food, he drove several to doctor appointments. He was always there for anyone who needed his help. I knew that his life made a difference for many hurting and unloved people and he was loved by many.

So, as we look at the worst day of our lives, what was yours? How did you deal with it? Do you use your bad experiences to help others who are going through the same process? Or do you sit back and say or do nothing? Many of us struggle with bad days, and many who have suffered similar circumstances will sit silent on the sidelines knowing that they have some wisdom in helping a friend or a family member through a tough time, but do absolutely nothing.

How can we help those who are going through tough times?

1#. Be an encourager, let those who are hurting know that you are available to talk anytime.
2#. Be a listener, do not try to fix anything, just simply listen and hear what they have to say.
3#. Offer advice if asked, only if you are asked. Don’t interject any of your idea’s and thoughts, you don’t have all the details and don’t know the entire history, so stay out of it.
4#. Call and check on your friend or family member often, let them know that you care and are available for them.

These are a few steps to take to help those around you who need your help. If you are struggling with big hurts and want someone to guide you through the process of taking back your life, you can contact me and set up an appointment to talk. You can contact Mike at 303.456.0555, If you need more information about the Professional Accountability Partner Program or Mike’s other services, call him at 303.456.0555 or go to contact Mike link to set up a free consultation appointment. My website is www.applicablecoaching.com all calls are confidential and your privacy is protected.

Check out Mike’s new and exciting Blogs at applicablecoaching.com/blog/, if you want to share your story about your worst day ever, let me hear from you on Worst day ever blog. You never know how your story may help and encourage someone in need.