The first true love any girl has is her father. No one will ever replace him as the love of her life. He’s the only guy that lets us dance on his toes or put makeup on him. He taught us that boys are icky and have cooties just to keep us from going near them so we’d forever only love him. Truth is, we grow out of our dad’s laps, but never out of his heart. We are always daddy’s little girl and while we may one day find a Prince, daddy will always be our King.
We all know that saying, “your parents always took care of you and someday you’ll have to take care of your parents.” I never thought I would have to take care of my dad at such a young age. I was 18 when he fell ill. The roles in the house switched very quickly. Dad was always up and moving around. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, you name it. While he still does that, he doesn’t do it as often. He’s weaker. As someone who grew up with this big strong guy that would scoop me up in his ginormous arms, it’s really hard to watch him just whither away, dying, right in front of me. Those big arms that used to scoop me up and wave me through the air like an airplane can barely hold a bowl of soup now. He used to chase me in the backyard and grab me and hug me so tight and swing me around and now just a simple touch will bruise him and it physically hurts him. He’s always been the superior one in the house and he intends to keep it that way. Some days are good days and it’s like nothing happened. Other days I would come home from work and he has been in bed all day sleeping. He can’t even lift his head off of the pillow and with a weak shaky voice, asks me “what can I make you for dinner?” “Nothing, Daddy. I already ate, but thank you!” He’d go back to sleep and I’d tip toe to the kitchen and quietly make something to snack on.
I didn’t understand. It took me the longest time to finally have it set in. I’m going to lose my Dad? My best friend? I didn’t move home like I should have. I waited another four months. I was living in Columbus and to me, it wasn’t really happening if I stayed there. If I went home, it would be real. Staying away from him those four months is the one regret I have. I can never get that time back with him. So, I moved home, transferred schools, transferred jobs, and started my new life taking care of my father.
An excerpt from one of Dad’s stories…
“After a series of me losing consciousness and thinking it had been a dream, I am no longer able to be left alone in the house. So, when my wife leaves for work, our daughter, Angelina takes over. If I am good at convincing my wife that I am fine, I deserve an Oscar for the performances I give my daughter. There is absolutely no way I can stand to see the devastation in her eyes. She comes in every now and then to see if I need anything. I tell her that I am fine. She scurries off to do whatever it is young adults do. I hate that she has put her life on hold for me. She gave up college, came home, and postpones her friends, to sit around all day just in case my body fails me. I fall asleep thinking I have failed the one thing in life that I ever did right. Angelina.”
My father has NEVER failed. At me or anything. He always put me first. He always gave me what I wanted. Of course, the abandoned puppy dog look and a few bats of the eyelashes worked, too! But he was always there for me. I was very involved with the music program in high school. He drove the truck for the marching band and we’d often have late nights and long drives. My dad would get up at 5am for work, after work go straight to the high school to get the truck, drive our equipment to the Friday night football game, yell and cheer me on, drive it back at 11pm, and start all over again. We often had stuff going on until late with the band, especially with competition season upon us. He had long days, no sleep. He never complained. It was all done out of love and support for me. He always supported me and the decisions I had made, even if he didn’t agree with them. He has never been an anchor to hold me down, nor a sail to take me there. But a guiding light whose love showed me the way. With all that he things he’s done wrong, he must have done something right. “To deserve her love every morning, and butterfly kisses at night.”
Most dads don’t like the idea of a guy coming along and taking their litter girl away. I was lucky enough to have found Michael. My dad not only loves him as his own son and would do anything for him, but also trusts him with my life. One of dad’s biggest fears was not being around to see me find that guy. That guy that dad can sense will take care of me and support me for the rest of my life. He’s lived to see that. He makes jokes all the time that I have to move out and Michael will move in and replace me. He couldn’t be happier for us.
His biggest fear now is not making it to see me start my life off as a Mrs. Ever since the day I was born, while living in the moment of being a dad raising a daughter, he was always looking forward to the day he’d give me away. And to dance to a song he already picked out as the father/bride dance. He worries about that often and brings it up to me a lot. I used to love going to weddings. Watch the father walk the bride down the aisle. I’ve always loved that part of the wedding. Now it’s the part I dread watching the most. I can’t hear about it, I can’t watch it. It’s a trigger for me and it just reminds me of how dad’s days are limited and he may not be there for that. So I made the ultimate decision that if I lost him before I got married, I would never get married. I’m sticking to that decision 100%. My wedding day is supposed to be the happiest day of my life. It wouldn’t be without my father. Sure, he’d be there in spirit, looking down and smiling, but it’s not the same as if he was actually there. There would be someone else walking me down that aisle, and I would fee like I’m doing dad wrong. The only people I care about being there are the groom, and my father. I couldn’t go along with it with just one of them.
My dad has survived 16 months longer than the Cleveland Clinic said he would. They said whatever he’s doing is working and to keep it up. His upbeat, positive attitude is what keeps him going. And that is what I believe will allow him to be the first, in history, to survive MSA.
#MSA, #TCOT, #frankcervone