Father’s Day was a little rough. My father has been in the hospital for two weeks now. I thought about him all day, but we didn’t go visit. When I called, he didn’t feel much like talking.
My dad is quite a man and he’s been through a lot. When my dad was 16, he lost his own father. Even though he never really talked about losing his dad, I know that in many ways, it affected how he related to all three of his children.
When I first learned how to drive, he decided that I should at least know how to drive a stick shift vehicle. He took me for a drive in my brother’s little 5-speed car. We left our neighborhood and kind of went exploring on back roads where I could practice shifting gears, stopping, starting, etc. He didn’t have a clue where we were, and neither did I, when all of a sudden we came around a curve and were headed down a steep, curvy road that made me panic. He took a hold of the gearshift and said, “clutch when I tell you to.” So I clutched and he shifted from the passenger seat until we were back on normal roads.
I was 18 when he was diagnosed with cancer. I dropped him off at the doctor’s office on my way to school for his endoscopy and colonoscopy, not thinking there was a thing wrong with my dad. From that day it was a whirlwind of tests, surgery and chemo all mixed in with recognition banquets, prom and everything leading up to my high school graduation. I can remember going straight from school to work to the hospital to visit him after his first surgery. During my freshmen year of college, I took him and my books to chemo where we would sit and talk about my classes during his treatments. Even during those times, he kept working.
When Brad and I were planning our wedding, there was some controversy over the color of my shoes. When I asked him what he thought, he said told me to wear what I want. “If you want to wear blue jeans under your dress, I wouldn’t care. Wear what you want.” I’ve never been a little princess and I’m by no means spoiled or indulged so that was a significant statement to me. Dad wanted what I wanted.
When he finished his most recent round of chemo therapy, it was the week before my college graduation. I could tell it took a lot of will power, but he was there for me. And he wore his fedora. My dad has less than typical taste in hats. Every summer he would wear a wide-brimmed straw hat to protect his head from the sun, because he didn’t have hair to do that job. Then he started wearing a fedora when he was dressed up.
When he turned 50, I bought him a black bow tie. He had always wanted to learn how to tie a real bow tie, so I also sent him a YouTube video with instructions and he learned how to do it. He emailed me pictures step-by-step. On the day of my wedding, my mom came into my dressing room a little frazzled from dealing with a “melt-down.” Dad was having trouble tying his bow tie and really did not want to use the pre-tied one provided by the tuxedo place. By the time he arrived to walk me down the aisle, he was wearing his perfectly tied bow tie and was stable and ready to give me away. The man who walked me down the aisle was my dad, the same one who carried me on his shoulders and taught me to drive. He put 100% of his energy and will power into my day to not only walk me down the aisle and dance with me, but also to take my mom for a spin of the dance floor as well.
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