Monday, November 15, 2010

Dad's Time

We don't know how long dad has left but it's matter of days now. He's in pain and he's suffering. He's on a lot of pain medication, so he's incoherent or asleep most of the time. But we figure that's better than him being in more pain.

To say that he doesn't deserve this is a vast understatement. He's a wonderful and generous person. For the 25 to 26 years that I've known him he exercised and ate well and encouraged me to do the same. He practiced yoga, meditation, and tai chi. At 61-years-old, he looks ten years younger.  He helped all his elderly neighbors. He gave money to people he didn't even know who needed his help. Even now in the hospital he worries about my mother and me, and even about the nurses. Some of the nurses have cried for him.

That's the easy stuff to explain. It's so hard to explain what he's done for me and for my mother. I can't speak to the entirety of my parents' relationship, but he is the kind of husband other people envy. He worked and he also cooked and ran the household chores. He was devoted and faithful to my mother for over 25 years. She tells the nurses and anyone who will listen that he never so much as raised his voice to her. The evidence of their mutual love is that my mother has been at his side every day all day throughout his illness, and she has never considered it one minute more than he deserves.

Charlottesville, VA 2007
With mom in Charlottesville in 2007

My dad has always put me before himself. Without him, I wouldn't be half the person I am. I read the books he gave me, learned the big words from him, and followed him around the house to talk to him. I would talk to him about everything, from the possibility of alien life forms to boys and kissing. He chaperoned my enrichment trips. He came to my field hockey games even though I wasn't very good and sometimes he had to see me get hurt. He came to my concerts even though I was worse at music. When he got kidney cancer the first time in 1999, his biggest concern was that I be able to finish college. I was blessed that I got to keep him for another 11 years and that he was able to walk me down the aisle and dance with me at my wedding. (I waited for 30 years to marry a man who I thought was as wonderful as my father.)  He came to my graduations for kindergarten, eighth grade, high school, college, my masters program, law school, and to my bar swearing-in ceremony.  When I told him I was pregnant he cried with happiness and kissed my hand because he couldn't reach up to kiss me from the hospital gurney. At a foot taller than me, he has called me "Shorty" my entire life.

Thanksgiving 2004
With me on Cape Cod in 2004

Occasionally, I explain to someone that my dad is actually my stepfather, but I never once heard him call me his stepdaughter, and not once did he ever make me feel like anything other than his child completely. When I look around I see that not only do I have a wonderful father, but I have a better father than almost everyone else. The expression, "you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family," doesn't apply to us. My mother asked me who I would I like to have as a father and I made an epically good decision for five-year-old. Just as he and mom chose each other, we chose each other to be family. I love my dad.

8 comments:

Robin said...

This is a beautiful post, Ericka. My thoughts are with you and your family.

nabzmcleod said...

E-

Beautifully spoken. Hang onto those thoughts for the coming days. All my love and prayers to you and your family. I don't know what else I can say other than that. Please call or email if you need anything, even if it's just a hug.

Christina

michele said...

so so so much love. and a hug (or 10). i am sorry ericka. if nothing else can be said you do him justice by being the thoughtful and loving person that you are.

Ash said...

Thank you for sharing, E - what a wonderful way to commemorate your father's life and love.

Anna C.L. said...

Ericka, what a lovely, well-written tribute to your father! He must be so proud of you. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

kathy said...

Ericka, that was one of the most touching tributes I've ever read. You have been so blessed to have Jim in your life. That beautiful love will stay in your heart and sustain you through this very difficult time and for the rest of your life. My love and prayers to you and your mother.

Rebeccah said...

That brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful tribute to an amazing father. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, I wish there were more we could do.

Kat said...

Ericka, What a beautifully written tribute honoring your dad and the love you and he share. You have been blessed to have been so loved. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time. Love, Kathie

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