I don’t believe I ever saw my dad cry.
I was by his side for so many life events, yet never a tear. Until one day, a rare event where he and his three girls were assembled, coming together to make sure everyone was on point for the inevitable events coming, the progression of his dementia.
He told us for him to be upset about what’s happening to him would be a waste.
He sat so calmly and spoke of one day losing his license and the need to live close enough to walk to the store. He fielded questions and listened to my mom and sister announce what would have to be done. Mind you, neither very subtle. Neither one was hearing him. No one was talking WITH him; they were talking AT him. No one was getting what we
should get from him…
“So,: I asked, “Dad, knowing what you know today, what would you like from us? Is there anything you want us to do for you moving forward?”
His answer was one of the most beautiful late in life answers anyone could ever hope to give.
He told us for him to be upset about what’s happening to him would be a waste. He told us, his life has been so full, so complete, he can’t be angry knowing what comes knocking at his door. He told us, his heart is full though his mind slips.
He proceeded to tell us, he was so grateful and lucky to have three outstanding women in his life. With his breath taken away, and his heart bursting, his words came choppy as he expressed so much love and gratitude for us. Until that day, I had never seen my dad cry. (I am 48.)
As he composed himself, he drifted back into his lifetime love affair with fire and his career – here – words once again flow with ease… as THIS is his comfort zone; THIS is his arena – the fire department and his life long journey and pursuit of being a firefighter. Amidst the stories, he gushed appreciation for a life well spent, in a career he loved. No regrets. Moving forward with appreciation for everything this life has given him.
I am so lucky to have drawn a winning ticket from the genetic lottery to have my dad as the man who showed his wife the most respect and admiration a man could. A man who would say, semi serious semi jest, if she ever leaves me, half of everything is hers.
We built this together. I think he said it because he could drive my mother to the brink, but his commitment to her was 100% solid. He would never leave her, though she could equally drive him crazy. He would acknowledge her sacrifice and hard work that made family what it is. I am so lucky to have had a father who gave to his two girls every opportunity a boy would ever be afforded and then say to us, I never lacked for anything having had girls.
If I take anything from my dad as a life lesson, I take this today… a goal. A goal to be able to look back, not because I am going that direction, but to be able to look back in pure appreciation for the life I have lived. To be able, at any moment in time, to do THAT… would be amazing. This may be the largest gift my dad has ever given me. A drive to move forward in
pursuit of a life I am grateful for. A life well spent.
My dad is not perfect, and he tells me that, and I reassure him, none of us are…