Today is a beautiful day in Charleston, SC. Blue skies, a slight breeze, and gorgeous bright sunshine. Today is truly a day of appreciation — for life, love, family and all that we in America are blessed with, especially on Father’s Day.
To all the fathers, and the fathers-to-be, I would like to extend a blessed and loving Happy Father’s Day. My wish for you is that all of your children and wives will appreciate all that you are and will spoil you just a bit today. Let us all make the time to say, “Happy Father’s Day,” and to make the time to do something special for Dad. Even if it is only a short phone call to say, “Happy Father’s Day,” please make the time to express your love and appreciation.
Father’s come in all shapes and sizes, all temperaments and there are times when father’s may not have the patience they need. Becoming a parent doesn’t come with a guide book of instructions, nor do we take classes for parenting. We simply become a parent, hoping we will make the right decisions.
I lost my father on Tuesday, July 6, 1999. For two years I watched him fighting the debilitating disease of esophageal cancer. I watched his body slowly melting away from him. At first, he was robbed of health, then his strength and independence. Gone was the ability to eat food. His body was attached to a feeding tube, he commonly referred to it as his umbilical cord. He detested it! After his body refused to allow his independence to return, we admitted him to a convalescent center. He coped with his new residency, but was never happy there. Daily, I visited him. At first, he welcomed me with open arms. A few months before he died, he became angry, shouting at me…telling me to leave, and not to come back. His roommate said he was mean to me. No, I said. He isn’t mean. He just wants me to leave.
On July 4, 1999, I saw my dad for the last time. Walking into his room, he was sitting in a chair, reading his Bible. His head lifted to look at me, but he did not welcome me. He continued to recite Bible verses, telling me to ‘go on… get out of here. I don’t want you here.’
Exhausted, I left in tears. On July 5, I returned to work. Working a bit late, I drove home, completely exhausted. Early in the morning of July 6, I awoke from a frightening nightmare. I had dreamed my dad was dying. I looked at the clock. It was 3:45 am. I reached for the phone. Dialed a portion of the phone number to the nursing home, stopped dialing, and hung up the phone. I did not go back to sleep. That day at work, I phoned the nursing home several times. I was told my dad was doing well, or ‘as well as to be expected.’ Before arriving for my visit, my dad took a fall. He was eating dinner when I arrived. Placing my hand on the door of his room, I met up with a nurse, with an oxygen tank by her side. She motioned for me to move away and not to come inside. I knew what was going on. I screamed.
I looked at my watch. It was 5:45pm. Standing next to my dad’s doorway, I listened to the actions of the nurses. They encouraged me to tell them to bring him back. I declined. “No,” I cried. “Just let him go with dignity.”
The death certificate recorded his death at 6pm. In all reality, he died at 5:45, when I was about to enter his room.
This year will be the 13th anniversary of his death. I no longer have a Father to wish “Happy Father’s Day.” Today, I will think of him, as I do every day. I will pray that he will enjoy today with his identical twin brother, his parents and other siblings and relatives. Yes, I miss him, but I know that he is in a better place…no longer attached to an umbilical cord, and now he can take his daily strolls and he can sing again.
Happy Father’s Day to all of you Dads. As for me and my husband, I intend to take him to dinner and to spend the day with him. How I wish I could spend the day with my dad, and I wish I could spoil him a bit on Father’s Day. Let us all appreciate the fathers of the world. Let us share kindness and love to them. After all, we never know what tomorrow may bring. Happy Father’s Day!