Happy Birthday to my father Michael Hayes Sr today. He is a young 81 and still drives his car and is in generally good health--good enough to continue to care for my ailing mom, which is an inspiration to me and a lesson for all of us.
I think my dad has been a great example of not merely being a good father to his children but an excellent husband to his wife. My parents have been married for nearly 59 years! For those unaware my mother has been riddled with many health issues since I was about 10 or so. Nearly 30 years later my mom is still at it and more importantly, my dad has always been at her side. It would have been very easy for dad to run, afraid of watching his love grow old and frail--but instead he's faced it head on.
I wrote an article about him when the movie Million Dollar Baby came out. As an Irish immigrant, the Clint Eastwood character in the movie, a boxing fan like my dad, showed the tortured nature that caregivers all go through. Some have a deep inner resolve that helps them get up each day and face the hard truth--that this person is not getting better and that it's their job to be cheerleader, nurse, psychologist and short order cook all rolled into one. Some can hack it, like my dad and some succumb to the temptation to end their pain by ending the life of those they care for by assisted suicide. (spoiler alert) While I obviously don't agree with what Clint Eastwood's character did in the movie, I did feel for him. Caregivers go through so much and the temptation to end suffering is indeed great.
But at their age, with each passing year, in which every day is a gift, I realize how lucky I am to have a dad with the strength and inner resolve that he has had.
I hope I have half the strength he has as I grow older and as I travel my years with my love, Marion--who my dad truly adores as if she were his own daughter (that's how I knew she was "the one", by the way!). It will be more than enough.
Your humble blogger is Mike Hayes, a well-known expert in the world of young adult ministry (20s and 30s) in the Catholic Church. Mike is the author of Googling God (Paulist, 2007) where he explores both the chaotic world that young people live in and their religious reactions to that world. He also explores the age of instant gratification and how churches can respond to the needs of the young adult age by using technology alongside more traditional ministry methods.
Mike founded the award winning BustedHalo.com® in 2001 and continues to contribute to it as the editor of their catechetical section appropriately named Googling God.
Recently, he left BustedHalo® to focus on more direct ministry with young people at St Joseph University Parish as a Campus Minister for the South Campus at the University at Buffalo.
He has only two loves: his adorable wife, Marion and a nine pound chihuahua named Haze, who still find him amusing enough to let them live in their home.