Being There For My Dad

25 Mar

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For years my dad would threaten to move down to Arkansas from Chicago. So as to spend time with myself and my sisters. He finally did so in 2010. It’s been great having dad around to watch big games or races with. Or to just take out to lunch. Around 2 o’clock today I got some news that just absolutely gutted me, it was that my father had throat cancer. First thought was oh crap, and then my aunt told me that it was inoperable because it was now attached to a main artery. Now starts a new chapter in my life, helping dad beat cancer. When I wrote about Michael Wanser back in October, I mentioned life being cruelly unfair, I always had that nagging thing in the back of my mind. Will it, can it, and when will it happen to me. I had hoped it wouldn’t ever, but today life reared its head to show me again that it’s still a cruel evil thing.

Dad and I have always joked around about the what if this happens, or keep up smoking I’ll get your hot wheels collection sooner. To be honest I would never wish ill harm to my dad. I want him to watch my daughters grow up and get married. I want him to see my sons grow into the fine gentlemen that I’ve raised them to be. But, today one phone call put all of that in check for me.

Two weeks ago I took my dad out to lunch and noticed he was eating diffrently. Usually he’ll smoke my ass at eating quickly, then I looked across the table after I got done eating and he hadn’t finished half his sandwich yet. He openly told me he had trouble eating because of this lump in his throat. I pleaded with him to get it checked out. He wanted to but he just didn’t want to hear the dreaded “C”. Today when I got off the phone with my aunt I got angry. Not Hulk style throwing a crazy fit angry. But a strongly irritated angry. I couldn’t help but think “dummy had you gone in sooner…”. Ya know, after a long drive to Northwest Arkansas I realized none of the past matters now. It can’t be changed, I need to look toward the future. The future my friends is getting my dad healthy.

I look at old photos on his Facebook and see the dad that cared for me when I was sick myself. When I was born I had club feet, and my dad took blame for it because he had it too. After some coaching from my aunt and uncle my feet were fixed. Better than what everyone had hoped. When had asthma attacks that would put me in the hospital for days he would come and stay with me for hours on end. One time he built me a Phil Parsons Skoal model car as a coming home present. We even built a Chevy Bison Semi in my hospital room. There are other countless memories of growing up. One of my favorites was my mom punishing us and sending us to a race at Road America with him. He questioned who was truly being punished.

Me, my dad, and my sister Meghan

He taught me how to be a dad. I don’t know how he put up with some of the stuff we pulled on him. There were times when I know I let him down. He sent me to the grocery store with my mom to get a Super Chevy magazine. I put the $5 in the bib pocket of my overalls, that was my only duty was to get that magazine. I dropped the magazine at the rack and bent down to get it. At the same time the money came out, got to the register and there was no money to buy the magazine. Mom went ahead and bought it, but I had to tell dad I lost the $5. For sure the worst thing ever.

Another time I was being a complete asshat to him. I didn’t want to be disciplined so I ran, he hopped on my bike to catch me. He tried to follow me down a dirt path and wiped out on my bike. I felt horrible after that one. Not soon after that I was riding bikes with my bestest friend in the whole wide world…..well when I was 11 he was. We were racing, he had this sweet 12 speed mountain bike, I had a precursor to the trick bikes that are popular now. Going into a corner I was carrying to much speed to make it and I drove straight with no speed scrubbed off I hit a fire hydrant. I launched over the handle bars hit the hydrant, I mean I messed myself up fantastically. Not a minute after hitting the ground I felt two arms pick me up. Some how my dad got there quick, don’t know how but he was just there to carry me home.

For all of my dads faults, he was always there for me. Now it’s my turn to be there for him. I hope I don’t let him down.

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