Three years have passed since I wrote this, and thankfully, my father is still here. His health continues to fail, and he's had more than his share of hospital and doctors' visits. He complains - he has aches and pains everywhere, and as soon as one is identified and calmed, another pops up. It's hard to have a deep conversation with him, but he tries, and his children try. He's a good man, a generous man, and it pains me to see him frail. His smile doesn't wane - he has a nod and a smile that say, "I'm trying," and I so appreciate that. He's taught me so much.
The card I purchased for his day tomorrow says, "Strong Fathers Strong Daughters."
Thanks Dad - I love you -
Monday, October 28, 2013
The phone is ringing. It's too early for a conversation. That means one thing - something has happened to my next-door neighbor. I walk to the kitchen, not even awake, and answer. It's my mom. "Everything's OK. Your dad has crumpled by the side of the bed, can Scott come help me get him back into bed?" "Yes." And I wiggle Scott, soundly sleeping, and ask him to go help Mom. He does. I look at the clock, 6:15am. Too early for a Sunday. Scott comes home, we go back to sleep.
8:15am. The phone rings. It's my mom. "Tyler's here. Can Scott and you help me get your dad down to the hospital?" "Sure, now?" "I want to shower first, in 30 minutes." So I hop into the shower, quickly dress. Scott takes his turn, and we run next door to determine how our day's happenings.
I love, love, adore, my dad. He's 83. He water-skied until he was 75 years old. He's always been busy - and he's taught his children how to be hard workers. He always hated seeing us sitting. He'd make us work hard then play hard with us. He's a demanding father. When he wants a project done, he means "now, not tomorrow, not next year, now. Hop to it." From him I've learned how to be bossy, demanding, and a hard worker - "Get off your butt and do something besides complain!" From him I've also learned how to be honest - "If I ever catch you in a lie . . .", sincere - "I love you," and generous - "We are blessed. I need your help (usually right now) to weed/mow Sister, or Brother so and so's yard/garden." I've also learned to be organized - "Put it where it belongs, now." And my dad is devoted - to his wife, his church, his God, his family. He's also a great cook - "Taste this, tell me what you think,"and a great craftsman. He taught me, "Give it a try, what's the worst that could happen?" And to "Measure twice, cut once." He taught me how to use his tools without any gender issues, at all. Dad doesn't hold grudges, "Forgive and forget," and he believes in acceptance - "You don't have to approve, but you do have to accept."
He loves having his children around, and more than that, he loves having his grandchildren and great-grandchildren visit him. He speaks lovingly and positively about them. He's usually the first to give a grandchild ice cream, always wanting to hold and hug and smooch with them, and he gives and receives hugs and tons of smiles and laughs.
His health hasn't been the best these past 4 years. He has 15 stents, a pacemaker, neuropathy in his feet, shortness of breath from congestive heart failure, and a bad back, and today, pneumonia. He hasn't let that stop him from being MY daddy. This past year he has checked on me almost daily, walking over with his walker (a Walker walking with a walker), knocking on the back door, and then, not waiting for an answer, wandering on inside, talking as he makes his way to wherever I'm at. There have been times when I've had to shoo him away because I was getting dressed or in a meeting, but for the most part, he has a bit of news to share, something he wants me to read, or "I haven't seen you for a couple of days, are you alive?" "I need you to . . ." or "When will Scott be home, I need him to . . ." He's said to me, more than once, "How is work?" "How is class going?" And even, "Your mom won't let me drive, but I can come and sit with you if you ever need me to."
I've learned a lot about him during the past 2 years. My pains have taught me about his pains, and he has taught me how to handle them. He may have chronic pain, a lifetime's worth of pursuit of a perfect night's rest, and he does his share of complaining about those aches. But - he doesn't talk bad about people, doesn't blame God or anyone else for the life he has. I haven't seen him grumble, wonder or "why me." He makes time for us kids, and he has taught me how to make time for others.
He's a good man. Today when the doctor asked Dad if he had a living will and a DNR and DNI order, Dad replied, "Do it all. Keep me alive as long as you can." I teared up a little and sent those same words to heaven, "Do it all. Keep my daddy alive as long as You can."