It’s easy to define freedom when you’re confined to the same four walls for more than a month. You think of freedom, and you think of opening the cage’s door and soaring in the sky. You think of freedom, and you think of not being hindered to do what you want. Being free is easily perceived as being unrestricted, unfettered, and unbound.
My father, one of the wisest men I trust, said that this definition is quite right–though he added: freedom is having the liberty to do good, for sin comes with shackles. He then gave this a twist: freedom is being free from one’s limits.
“It applies even in doing the tiniest good things such as chores, obeying your formator or parents, and finishing a task at work,” he said. “There are good things that we are not eager to do, Elaine, and once we overcome our laziness, hesitation, and spite, then we are free.”
My father recounted the days he resented my “neat” mom for asking him too much about chores. He would do them with a heavy heart, or he would first complain of her lack of concern then do as he was told. One night, as he lay sleepless and praying in the quiet night, it dawned on him that tomorrow would surely be the same.
My mom, ailed with Stage 4 cardiomyopathy, will never be capable of carrying out the chores she asked him to do. And my father–who, himself, was aging–could not resent his wife and complain about chores forever. He had to be free.
Roughly a month ago, I rushed my father to the hospital. After a 2- or 3-day hospital stay, I brought him home, free from his swollen appendix. I’ve become the sole house helper, caregiver, cook, and the family’s tribute who ventures the virus-infested street and wears the quarantine pass. I think of freedom, and I think of my father’s joy in chores. Things get exhausting, of course. But when they do, I lie in bed and pray in the quiet night.
I can’t agree more to my father, freedom, indeed, is overcoming one’s limitations to do good. The weeks have been hard, but I’ve never been this happy. And I’ve never been this free.
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