Growing up I thought of my dad as the strongest, bravest man I knew. I felt completely protected by him. I remember one night we were all sitting in the family room and my mom heard a noise in the garage right off the family room. She asked me to turn on the light in the garage and as I did I saw a stranger lifting a bike up and was about to steal it. I was only a kid so it completely took me by surprise. I dropped to the ground and was speechless, couldn’t get a word out but my family knew something was wrong.
At the time, I was scared to death but as I got older and retold the story, it was more funny than scary. The funny part was that when he saw me he too was scared and dropped the bike and ran. I scared him as much as he scared me. My dad jumped out of his chair and ran out of the house and down the driveway but the kid was long gone. But as I watched my dad I thought he was my hero, ready to protect our family at a moment’s notice.
As I grew up, I continued to look at my dad as our protector but also I started to appreciate him in so many more ways. As I went for my first interview he gave me advice on what to say and not to say. He gave me advice on how to negotiate my first salary increase, or how to handle different personalities at work. He was my go to guy.
He wasn’t the kind of dad that would sit and snuggle with you or give a lot of hugs but I always knew he was on my side and he had my back. Our relationship grew even closer when my mom passed away. I moved back home to give him some company. We helped each other through the first year or two after my mom’s passing. We didn’t really talk a lot about it but we knew we were there for each other. I taught him how to do laundry, cook a little, even things to buy at the grocery store. He represented stability after my world was shaken by the passing of my mom.
It has been 20 years since my mom passed, my husband and I will be celebrating 16 years of marriage in September. My dad is in his 80’s now and over the last month or so many health issues have popped up. He has been diagnosed with glaucoma, he had cancer on his finger and so they had to do a skin graft from another part of the arm, and his legs started to swell up for no reason. Way too much to deal with for my dad at one time. He has been relatively healthy these 84 years so getting all of these things at once was overwhelming. To be honest, frustrating at times for me and my sisters. We wanted my dad to follow up on things when he would like to convince himself that he was fine when clearly he wasn’t. There were weeks of care for his arm and finger and he couldn’t stand looking at the wounds so I took care of them for him.
Wednesday, I sat in the waiting room as my dad signed in for his post-opt check-up on his arm and finger. I sat there looking at him thinking I am very lucky to have him still in my life. Yes, occasionally we have some hiccups in the health area but he has been very fortunate. We all have.
My husband got news this week that his dad has an aggressive brain tumor and he has to have it removed. When you hear things like that it helps to put things in perspective. His dad has a long road a head of him. But for the last 16 years that I have been a member of their family, my husband’s dad has been his family’s strength. He has been their rock – dependable, and knowledgeable on all topics. My husband has been blessed as well to have such a great role model as a father.
So tonight if you are close to your dad, give him a hug, tell him you love him. If you don’t live close to him call him and tell him you love him. If you are estranged from your dad think seriously about taking a step to repair your relationship. Life goes by so fast, appreciate those around you and let them know what they mean to you. Enjoy your small moments in a day.