There aren’t many men like my Dad, and not many Dads like him either. Today (another) of the nurses told me how she’d wished she had a Dad like mine. I know. Everyone does and always did.
My Dad’s children weren’t PART of his life: they WERE and ARE his life.
He always told me my children would do more for me than I did for them.
I can definitely say that wasn’t true in HIS case: he did INFINITELY more for me than I ever did for him.
He never needed anything and was willing to give everything and beyond what he had.
He was never “too tired” or “too broke”.
He didn’t stop working when he came home… he was the Dad working late into the night. He was the Dad making the most awesome ice skating rink ever out of our entire back yard, every night squirting it down and patching the holes. Our family didn’t have the most money, but we definitely had the best parties around! We had circuses in the backyards, and had vacations every year, even if it meant making a list of places around our home and doing different things together each day.
My Dad worked hard and played hard. No other family was taking picnic outings in the wintertime. He was a truck driver, but made sure his family wanted for nothing. Our home was always open to friends, and they didn’t care if we were home or not as long as they could talk with our parents!
He took us to work with him, and I was so proud of how everyone loved my Dad. He was never too tired to stop to pick up rocks or fire hydrants or anything to surprise my mom. He was always there to give money to his friends in need.
He tried to make life easier for everyone: helping my mom with housework and chores constantly, encouraging us to do our “teamwork” together in work and sports, and helping each of us with anything from homeschooling to painting.
Some people don’t get to say bye to their Dad. But our family has a chance for a very long goodbye. My Dad began slipping away from us a little at a time when he began to develop Alzheimer’s over twelve years ago. Little by little we watched him tire more easily, struggle to remember things, and not be able to keep everything impeccably in order.
Now he is in a home. He has given his life for us, and we have a chance to walk with him during these last times he has on earth. It is hard for us not to see our Dad as we knew him, but he’s still there: folding his bib neatly today, saying “where’s your Mom?!” “you’ve always been our Angel” “when’s everyone going to get here — call them and tell them to meet us here!”
My heart breaks to leave him alone EVER. I hate going to the nursing home and finding him sitting in a chair facing the water fountain alone. I wish he never had to be alone. Although he doesn’t remember if you were there that day, he is obviously and definitely happier when we are there with him.
And each chance I have to see more of my Dad I cherish — and he never disappoints me. He may come up with something like “see if your mom is making spaghetti today? when Daniel comes we’ll have some together” or tell the nurses “after this I’ll get you some donuts!” Or he’ll meticulously go to arrange his mustache (which they mistakenly shaved off and is now growing back).
I want to be with my Dad as much as I can. Although it is a long goodbye, I know it is a goodbye. And I cherish each day he knows me and I can find him there. I want more and more of him to rub off on me. There’s no one else like him in the world.