Thursday, January 31, 2008

I Love You, Dad

Tomorrow is the third anniversary of my father's passing. He was quite a man, my dad. Not rich by monetary standards, but rich in all the things that mattered. Rich in friends, rich in talents, rich in family life and rich in God's love.
Growing up, my sister and I spent more than the average time with our father while mother was working. She was a nurse and took night duty while we were young. He took us with him wherever he grandma's house, or my uncle's house, or another aunt's house. He came from a large family and my dad was a family man. Dad built the house we lived in and went on to build one for a sister and her family and a brother and his family. I can still see us in my dad driving with me standing on the seat of the truck in the middle (those were the days of no seatbelts) and my arm around his shoulder. My sister 2 years older than me was by the door. We usually sang songs most of the 10 miles home so my dad wouldn't have two sleeping girls to carry into the house. I found this out at a much later age! And I thought it was just for love of singing songs such as "Standing on the Corner" (watching all the girls go by), How Much is That Doggy in the Window" or "Hey Good Lookin!"
As the years passed, my dad played softball for our church team as well as an independent league. And he was the pitcher. He could throw hard, hit hard and run fast. I was totally amazed. That was MY dad! He and Mom were youth group leaders for our church for years and dad was always taking us somewhere, skating, bowling, or church. Dad and Mom always took us to church. Mom sang in the choir but Dad was a quiet kind of guy. He sat back loving the Lord and let others talk or sing.
Dad was diagnosed at 45 with rheumatoid arthritis. He continued to play softball until he was 51 years old. He was a fighter! He lived 37 years getting progressively crippled up and trying every pill or treatment for the disease the doctors ordered, many with intolerable side effects. Hydrocephalus was discovered at a late age and incontinence became the greatest insult to his dignity. Stroke after stroke didn't take him down but finally, at age 82, his kidneys shut down and he lay on a respirator for 2 days until my sister and I could get to the hospital from out of state. Once there, my mother had the doctors remove the respirator according to my dad's wishes. He was conscious with a scratchy throat and dry mouth. But the first thing he asked my mother for was a "mooch". He got that kiss and one from each of his girls. And more kisses as we sat with him.
If there is one regret I have, it would be not telling dad more that I loved him. I wish I had told him... he was my hero. In my eyes, he could do anything. He was larger than life! I was so proud of him and the way he lived his life. My mother is living close to me now and I am her caregiver. I won't have any regrets this time.

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