Sunday, June 18, 2006

Daddy's Day...

When I was just a day old, my dad could look down at me in his arms, and make me smile wide enough to show the two front teeth I was born with.

I can remember thinking as a little girl that my dad was the most handsome man ever. I can remember playing games and going camping and fishing. I don't have any brothers, so my dad often enjoyed my tomboy inclinations. He'd take me fishing, toss my line into the water in just the right spot. And after telling me NOT to touch the pole a half billion times, I'm not known for my patience you know, he'd coach me on how to watch for a bite and then hook a fish and reel it in. Without fail, I'd catch something bigger than him.

We lived on the edge of a forest that was part of a state park when I was young. He would take me on walks and tell me all about the plants and animals we saw along the way. A native Tennessean, he was a true outdoorsman. On one of those walks, he taught me about acorns, and how when planted, they'd take root and grow into a tree. We planted one and sure enough, not long after, a small sapling broke ground. That was nearly 25 years ago.

Fourteen years later, I graduated from high school. Despite my parents divorcing when I was three, they'd maintained an amicable relationship so that I could have them both in my life. And they were both there in the audience to cheer me on as I walked across the stage. That evening we all went to dinner and my dad got his first crack at the new man in my life (who is now my hubby). I asked if he approved. He said that he always wanted me to remember how special I am and that as long as I'm being treated with the love and care I deserve, he would approve.

My dad was always a healthy guy. At just under six feet tall, he weighed an athletic 160 pounds. He played basketball and baseball with my sister and me and our little cousins. It was a shock to us when a month after I graduated from high school, he had a massive heart attack. Thankfully, he miraculously pulled through after spending months in the hospital.

He'd suffered some damage to his short term memory ability due to lack of oxygen. Thanks to some cruel and thoughtless kids, the street sign to my grandparents house (where he was at the time) was missing. As a result the ambulance got lost. He was "normal" when he came home. But sometimes, he would think it was six years prior and I was twelve. But he'd see me and the most wonderful smile would spread across his face and he'd say, "Wow, you've grown and you're beautiful..." He complained that sometimes he felt foggy, as though he had all the memories, but couldn't always put his mental fingers on them.

I'm so thankful for the two and a half years I was graced with him after his heart attack. It had served as a warning that loved ones wouldn't be here forever and I got to do and say all of those things many people don't get to do and say to and with a loved one before loosing them. I spent most weekends traveling fourteen hours back and forth between school here and his home in Tennessee. During the summers when I didn't have classes, I could stay for longer periods.

He passed away two years and five months to the day from the time he had his heart attack. He was suffering from rapidly developing pneumonia, which was in part related to the ARDS he'd developed while in the hospital two years prior. He was comfortable, cared for and surrounded by loved ones when it happened.

That was eight and a half years ago. In the years since, Father's Day has of course not been the same. My dad's words and memory are a constant companion to me. And it isn't something that I've set aside a special day to think about. Maybe in part because I wasn't sure I could handle putting that sort of focus on it.

This year I'll be celebrating Father's Day with my hubby's family. He had to remind me tonight that it is tomorrow. And I'll admit that celebrating Father's Day for the first time in eight or so years will be awkward and maybe even a bit painful. But his dad is a wonderful man. And I couldn't be happier to celebrate with him tomorrow.

I think after we leave there though, I might ask hubby if we can visit the state park and take a nature walk. I'm sure the little sapling we planted is no longer so little and probably mixed in with hundreds of others. But it would be a way of remembering a special time I spent with my dad and I think he'd like that...

For those of you who are still Blessed to have your father here, I hope your time with him is as special and magical as the time I spent with mine and for those whose father has passed on, I hope you also have special memories to cherish on Father's Day.



Michelle said...

Awwww, April, that's a sad story. But I'm glad you had such a wonderful relationship with your dad.

Nicole Reising said...

April - Its too early in the morning to be making me cry!

That was beautiful!


Stephanie Bose said...

April, I cried too! Am still crying as I write this. My dad is coming to visit in 2 days for my wedding and I will think of your words and hold him extra tight when he steps off the plane.

Your Dad sounds like a great guy... he would be so proud of you. You're an awesome person!

Karen Erickson said...

April that was a touching remembrance to your father. And I love the picture. Cherish your memories you have of him. He sounds like he was a wonderful man.

Now on to my question - You were born with two front teeth?????????


Stacy Dawn said...

Ya, okay, no tears here, none mmm-mmm...oh darn, just pass the tissue already!

He sounds wonderful April!

(two front teeth??)

Silma said...

April, your dad isn't gone if you can remember so many things about him. The good and the bad. Nothing wrong with that. Keep in mind people are truly gone when they are no longer remembered. As long as you remember your dad, he'll always be there.

Julie S said...

April, what a beautiful tribute to your father's memory. I hope your visit to the park was lovely and that your day was special.

April said...

Thank you everyone for the sweet words. Sorry for causing tears. I hope I didn't bum anyone out too bad.

The day went well. Our parents live about six houses away, so I spent some time with my mom too.

Hubby and I decided to go to the park next weekend and I'll take along the camera and take pictures of the area where we planted the acorn.

And yes, wierd as it may be, I was born with my two front, bottom teeth. To say the least, breast feeding was difficult for my mother. And no, I wasn't born late, I was right on time and not overdeveloped. I was actually around six pounds, I believe. Just a tiny wierdo :-)

April said...

And Bosey,

I'm so glad your dad will be there for your wedding! I hope you have a beautiful day and a terrific honeymoon!

MaryF said...

April, you were so fortunate to have such a wonderful dad. You paid him a lovely tribute!

I cried, too.

Sue aka MsCreativity said...

April, thank you for sharing such a hearbreakingly beautiful story.

mary beth said...

This is a wonderful tribute to a man who obviously loved and was loved in return. Thank you for sharing.

Shelli Stevens said...

That was very sweet to read about. Your dad was indeed very handsome. I think it's good for you that you celebrated father's day with your hubby. I hope it went well and you got that nature walk in. (Hugs)

Anonymous said...

April, that was just sooo beautiful. I'm glad I'm not the only one who had to blink back tears.