We celebrated my dad’s 82nd birthday today. It was a good day. He is still with us. He can still smile. He can squeeze my hand. He still follows the Grands with his eyes. But he is not himself, still.
I speak of him often. One of the stories I tell at least once a week goes as such:
When I was five years old, my mother dressed me in frippery froppery, dresses with more lace than sense, and panties with ruffles. Good thing, too, because she kept my hair cut so short that if I didn’t have on a dress, then most people mistook me for a boy, and I hated that.
I can remember the day well, the day My Dad taught me a Lesson that will never be forgotten. I had on that lacy red dress with ruffledy panties, and Dad, for reasons known only to him, had given away some puppies or a dog and we (my brother and I) were upset about it.
Said brother was quite upset, and decided that he needed to know why Dad had done this, but he must have realized that he didn’t look as cute as I did in my red ruffledy outfit so he threw me under the bus and told me, “You go ask Dad WHY HE GAVE OUR PUPPIES AWAY!!” I specifically remember him saying it just like that.
So away my flouncy self went. Let me set the stage: My dad was at work, seeing patients and concentrating on their health. Our house was connected to my Dad’s office by a door. A single door. We lived on one side, and he worked on the other. So I opened that door, marched my way into the office and then into the treatment room where my dad was working on a patient and I proceeded to ask him, in a probably not nice tone, “WHY DID YOU GIVE AWAY OUR PUPPIES???” and then I turned around and SLAMMED the door of the treatment room. In the patient’s face.
OH. MY. STARS. If one of my boys did that to me now, I am not sure what would happen, but I can tell you what my dad did.
About 5 minutes after the shot that was heard around my family, when I was feeling pretty good about myself and had waltzed back into the house part of the building, my dad came through that door.
I remember looking up at him, and seeing the look on his face…
So I then got the only spanking my dad ever gave me, and he told me to “Sit on that couch and don’t you get up” and 2 hours later I was still in the same position; my mother says that I wouldn’t even get up to get a drink of water.
And I never talked back to him again. Oh, I disagreed with him and argued a little, but never, never did I show him disrespect. Ever.
And today, I think of those stories. I am so glad my 2 older boys knew him before he was taken hostage by this disease. I am grateful I can hug him still. I am grateful for my 2 brothers, who help me remember my dad as he was, and who are my memory keepers. I am grateful for my sisters in love that love my dad and my family. I am especially grateful for my mom, who loves him still and grieves for him as I do. I have friends that are the only caregivers for their parents, and my Mom takes that burden and does not share it with my brothers and I. She is one extraordinary woman.
Today was a good day. Dad is still with us. He now doesn’t know my name and doesn’t remember the lessons he taught me, but I will not be forlorn. He is still here. That’s more than some of you have. He can’t make a complete sentence, but he is still speaking a little. I am still able to say good bye. It’s taking a long time, but hey…life’s too fast, and maybe this reminds me to slow down. I love you, Dad. You don’t remember my name, but you know I am yours.