In my mom’s birthday post I explained why I made the scrapbook page for her and wrote some things I remembered about her. That was in 2004, and her birthday was the day before Thanksgiving that year. The very next day my dad went to the hospital with respiratory problems. This is not uncommon with him. When I was little, I remember spending hours and hours days on end at the hospital because he had pneumonia. There were many winters I thought would be his last due to it. So a trip to the emergency room was nothing out of the ordinary.
But what WAS unusual, is that his breathing was so bad he was put on life support. Then they discovered he was septic in many places in his body and had a very bad strep infection in his lungs. His organs started shutting down. He was in Missouri; I was in New Mexico. I did not go. Many of my family and friends were more than somewhat unhappy with me for not going, but my point was that unless they could wake him up and I could talk to him one last time, there was no point for me to be there waiting for him to die. My mother’s situation would require a lot of time to sort out if he died, so I could not leave and take extra days waiting for him to die. Call me cold, but he was in a coma.
What I did do at this time was make a list of reasons I loved him and things I remembered about him like I had done for my mother’s birthday just a few days before. I e-mailed it to my mother’s caretaker so someone could read it to my dad–just in case in the far reaches of his mind he could hear something.
Well my dad is tough, and he pulled out of that to the amazement of every doctor and nurse caring for him. I DID go visit then and arrived the day he was discharged from the hospital. (The picture you see in this post of my dad and me was from that visit.)
Below is a list of things I wrote then about my dad. Like my other lists, it is certainly not all-inclusive, but it gives you a peek into why he is so special to me. (A lot of these will not make sense to a lot of you, but I decided to leave them in anyway.)
The pictures are from a small (3-1/2″ x 3-1/2″) book I made for him for Father’s Day the following year that included everything on the list. (The best picture here of him is the black-and-white one. It just looks like who he is. It is the photo I held while he was in the hospital and I did not go.)
Things I remember about you….
-The maroon Dodge.
-Always wearing safety belts, years before the rest of the population did it.
-Saturday nights at car dealerships.
-Your calling my boss at my first job in high school to make sure I was doing a good job at work. (I answered the phone.)
-NEVER late to church!
-Fireworks on 4th of July.
-How you put your all into everything you did.
-Taking us to see Mom at night when she worked at the nursing home.
-Hours at the foundry and DPC when I was little.
-Mason Shoes work boots.
-Home movies and slide shows.
-Visiting you at the academy when you lived there to build the new plant.
-Helping you change the mold on “my” test machine at work.
-Hanging on for dear life on the boat.
-Dinner wherever we pleased on our birthdays.
-The Class of 1960.
-Interesting Sabbath School programs at church when you were the superintendent.
-Your business presentation at Union College.
-Brush-hogging and mowing.
-Driving tomato stakes.
-Your big heart for everyone.
-Steam Engine Exhibits.
-Big M&M’s cookies.
-MO trips: Johnson Shut-ins, Elephant Rocks, Big Spring, Silver Dollar City, St. Louis Zoo, KC Zoo
Things I especially love about you….
-Instilling in me a love of gardening.
-Teaching me that I am responsible for my own life and to not make excuses or blame others for my problems.
-Assuring I had a college education and the ability to support myself.
-Making me believe that no matter what I wanted in life or what I wanted to do, I could have it or do it.
-Your example of standing up for what you believed was right even if it was very unpopular.
-You made sure I was exposed to life by many various experiences and visits to unfamiliar places.
-You made sure we periodically saw all the distant relatives we could, especially great aunts and uncles and great grandparents on both sides of the family.
-Weekend visits while I was at the academy.
-That you never bought me a car.
-You raised me to know right from wrong, but rarely lectured me when you didn’t approve of my choices.
-You made me feel like there could be no better, smarter daughter in the world.
-Providing 16 years of Christian education for me (but making me work to pay for a giant portion of it).
-You are the most generous person I know, probably to a fault, but you passed to me the desire to be generous also.
So Happy Birthday to my dad, whose birthday is tomorrow. And if you have been following this series, that means his birthday was the day after my mother died. He spent his 65th birthday in a funeral home taking care of the arrangements for his wife. But that is life, and we have to make the best of what life hands us. He, more than anyone, has shown me how to do that.