When I was five years old, I thought my Daddy hung the moon in the night sky, just for me. When I was ten, I thought he was the best baseball coach out there, always ready to pitch me another ball for practice. At fifteen, I was convinced my Dad was out there to ruin my life, and I’d never be able to wear the clothes I wanted or see the boys I liked. Twenty came and went, and Dad was always there…no real angst in our relationship, but nothing spectacular either. When I was twenty-five, he was walking me down the aisle and giving me away to the man who would now become first in my life, the slot that Daddy used to hold. A few years ago, when I turned thirty, I really came to terms with Dad’s mortality. He’d just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and I knew it was only a matter of time before he wasn’t around any more, so I had to make each moment count.
Today, I celebrated my Dad. I went home to my parents’ place, spent time with them, and took my dad out for a good ol’ fashioned steak (lunch was his choice). We talked and laughed, and I tried to ignore when he called me by my sister’s name, or when his hands shook too much to cut up his meat. And on the way home, with J behind the wheel, a tear or two might have slipped down my face, hidden by my sunglasses. Dad is still there, for the most part, but there are times when he’s just a shell of who he was. I console myself with the fact that, overall, his quality of life isn’t terrible. It’s nowhere near where it was, and I’m sure it kills him to have me help him out of the car like an invalid, but I think we could both agree that it would be worse. A LOT worse. And “worse” might be right around the corner, or it might never come…we really don’t know.
So…while today might be Father’s Day, and I wish the best to all the father’s out there, I am making a conscious decision to celebrate my father ALL days. Because, sadly, we never know how many days we have left. And I’d hate to look back on my time with him and have regrets that I didn’t do enough. Didn’t tell him I loved him enough, didn’t hug him enough, or laugh with him enough. So, starting today, I’m going to go into every day making sure that he knows that he’s always going to be my #1 Dad, no matter what.