Lately he's getting worse. Changing it seems everyday and certainly not for the better.
Growing up I was cherished by him. When I was very young I didnt know what it was, this feeling of well being, safety and nothing could hurt me. As I grew older I learned the it was love. Lots of it. Always Unconditional, as it should be. I am his namesake and daddy's girl. Yes, I was number 5 of what eventually would be 6 kids in the house. But I was his first biological child. Hence the reason I was named after him. I think I was "supposed" to be a boy but no one will own up to having said it out loud at the time. I just get the feeling.
Ginger, also beloved by him, was probably a surprise. The cherished last child of the mother who had born 6 before her. Ging almost didnt make it through the childbirth. I think this fact combined with the "last child" mantra earned her her the mommy's girl tag. We had our roles even at a young age.
My fathers and my entire name is different by one letter. I have an A at the end of my first name to obviously make it the feminine version. Same middle name (a family surname from his mothers side) and the same last name (obviously). If I had a nickel for every time I've heard the first line of the song "Hey Paula" I'd be rich. Ten times over.
He loves all his kids. Dad met my mother when she moved back to NJ from Louisianna into an apartment over the tavern across from his house. She had 3 young children and one more on the way. She'd escaped back home to get away from an abusive Army husband and soon after her return she divorced him. My parents fell in love and they were married on July 1st 1961, right after my brother David's first birthday. My brother was born right around Fathers day and its kinda appropriate because our father is the only father he's ever known. Yes, the big 50 Anniversary is coming up for them a year from this July.
A kiss on a cruise we all took about 5 years ago
My dad raced inboard hydroplanes over 120mph on water when I was younger and it created some of the best memmories ever of weekends over summer vacations. I want to do a whole post on that, so more later.
Dad had his own business when we were growing up which meant he worked long hours. He was usually up and out before we even woke up in the morning. He ALWAYS came home for dinner, Every Night. My mothers rule that it took an, "act of god" to miss dinner in our house applied to him too. During his busy season which was May thru September, he would come home to eat but go back out to work until dark. He worked a lot. I do remember that about my childhood. But, there were always hugs and kisses galore before he left and when he came home. =)
When I was around 11 years old I begged him to let me mow the lawn. I really wanted to use the ride-on mower and he kept saying no. Eventually he gave in with the usual precautions and some rules. 1. No doing the front yard near the curb. 2. No doing along the driveway either because the car was parked halfway on the yard, other half on the driveway that day.
Our driveway was rocks. Grey quarry rocks. All was well until I decided I could do around the car. Just a little to help him out and when he saw how good I did around the car he'd trust me and let me do the lawn all the time. yeah.
Long story short, when I went around the car my leg got stuck between the lawnmower and the bumper, causing the lawnmower to twist around so its now on the rocks and kicking up some serious projectiles. Dad heard me yelling and ran over to help and in the process of untangling me from the car his foot somehow slipped under the mower. I remember seeing his white sneaker flying 10 feet away and the look on his face. There was a lot of blood and neighbors running up with towels to stem the flow. My mom was angry and sent me to my room. I watched from the window as the ambulance came and took him to the ER.
The blade had sliced his foot on the side of his big toe all the way to his heel. DEEP. A Filleting if you will. Over 350 stitches inside and out and he was back home. I was sooooo afraid to see him. I knew I'd screwed up. He called me into his room where he was laying in bed with his foot up on 4 pillows. He asked what I'd been thinking?? I told him I just wanted to help and then he told me thats why he didnt want me to go near the car. He kept saying thank god I wasnt hurt. Hugs and kisses and assurances that it was an accident, but accidents happen when you dont obey. Lesson learned. I listened to him much better after that. I assure you I did.
He is a great father. He still worries (too much) about every single one of us. Sometimes sticking his nose into business that he shouldnt. He's just trying to help I'll tell my sister when he does something that pisses her off. I have way more patience with both my aging parents than any one of my siblings. I'm not sure why but I do.
They were always there for me. Not just my mom but BOTH my parents.
When I went to college in NC and then moved back home a year later because I missed my family. No questions or yelling about my failure.
When I got my first big girl job in NYC as a receptionist for a stockbroker they took me out and spent tons of money on new "business" clothes so I would look good.
When I came home one day at 21 years old and announced, "I'm pregnant" and No, you dont know him and No, I'm not marrying him.
He adores his grandchild even more than me I think. In fact I know! lol He has been the father figure her own father refused to be. He watched her every Friday night I was on shift when I was a paramedic because that was my moms Bingo night. He and Lauren would go to Denny's and get dinner then go get Ice Cream. They'd take their treat and sit at the end of the runway at Fort Lauderdale Airport and sit on the roof of the car as the planes came in for a landing only 100 feet above their heads. For hours they'd sit there. He did this when she was a toddler all the way until she was 10 years old. Friday night was theirs alone to do their thing. Some times they'd mix it up and he'd take her to old car meets. Her love of planes and old cars comes from him and him alone. Lauren still talks about those nights and her eyes light up when she does.
About 6 years ago he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It wasnt good either, he was stage 5 level 4 or Level 5 stage 4, I cant remember exactly but it was pretty far gone. I took him to many doctors. I wanted many opinions on what could/should be done. We finally settled on a doc that was recommended by a doc friend that I had. This doctor did the equivilent of a male histerectomy on my father. They took everything and anything close to the area. It was a long recovery but it appeared to do the trick. 6 years later he is still cancer free. His PSA's come back 0 which is good and except for some "funky" cells in his bladder at one point, nothing has returned.
Lately he's also been in and out of the hospital with breathing problems. Probably 5 times in the past two years. He has emphysemia and refuses to stop smoking. Actually I think he cant stop smoking. Its like crack rock and I know exactly what he's talking about. =/
He has not been the same since all this started with the cancer. My normally strong, vibrant, crazy hard working father was a shell of a guy for a while after surgery. While the shell went partially away, some of its still there, and I dont think it will ever be fully gone. His sense of humor is all screwed up. His patience which he always had a ton of is gone. I know some of this is his age, 72 but the cancer took away the man I knew. Made him old before he was supposed to be. His memory is getting really bad. On bad days he will ask the same question 3 times in a 1/2 hour period. I keep answering because I dont know what else to do. He is angry too. He was once so sweet and gentle. I can remember seeing him really angry like twice in my life when I was younger. He never yelled. He yells all the time now.
We rarely fought in my 44 years. Or at least rarely until a few years ago. Like I said, I have lots of patience with him but my goodness he can get my blood boiling sometimes. He is so obstinant and thick headed that it makes me crazy. I will 9 times out of 10 walk away. Its not worth it most of the time to fight with him. He's always right and wouldnt admit if he was wrong anyway. And I really dont want to wake up one morning to find he's gone and we fought the day before. I love this man with all my heart and its breaking my heart to see him so different than what my mind is so used to.
Pops sportin someone's Oakleys.