The Importance of Fathers
- Originally published July 27, 2011
I was at the funeral of a friend’s husband recently and I had a moment of ultimate gratitude and realization. This man was not just an ordinary man. He, most importantly was someone’s father. Though I barely knew him, I cried and cried. Even continued to cry once I got home. Just thinking of him, made me think of my own dad and his mortality….
Growing up, I didn’t realize how important my father was. I should have seen it after all it was he who stayed home with his two girls while his wife worked. His discipline was strong and as a child, I thought of it as cruel, but I have an even higher respect for it now than I did then. My father was the heart of our home. He took care of us. I never imagined I would one day have to take care of him.
On the very first day of 2000, my father had a stroke. I was eleven years old, my sister nine. The image of my father pulling himself across the floor of our home is forever embedded in my memory. Mom asked us to stay in our room, but I remember peeking out the door, terrified, not knowing what was happening. My grandparents came to take him to the hospital but knew there was no way they alone could get him in the car. I listened as Grandpa told the 911 dispatcher, "Yes, I believe my son has had a stroke." My sister and I huddled together in our small bedroom. I could hear a paramedic scolding my mom. "You work in the medical field and you didn't call sooner?" I couldn't blame my mother. My dad is a stubborn man. He calls the shots. Minutes passed and as I heard the sirens take off and go into the distance, I knew this was for real. We spent the night at my brother's New Year's night. I didn't sleep til I heard the call that my dad would be okay.
The very next day, my sister and I went to see him in the hospital. I'll never forget seeing my father, the rock, the man, my hero, lying in bed, tears in his eyes as he saw his girls. I clutched his hand. "I love you," I choked out. He tried to be strong. "Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere." No one, not even he, knew if he was right at the time.
The following months after my dad's stroke consisted of serious life changing moments. A man who now had to be taken care of like a baby because he had to learn to walk again. A man we helped dress, feed, and just care for day after day. Since his stroke eleven years ago, my father has endured more pain and suffering than anyone should ever have to endure or witness. Dad is a diabetic, and dialysis patient. His kidneys began shutting down in 2003, finally giving up all together in January 2009. The things I saw as a child are things no child should ever have to witness, but because of the love from his wife and us kids, he is still here today. That morning in 2000 changed us as a family forever.
Every time I see my father, I tell him I love him. Every time I see my father I hug him. Every time I see my father I kiss him. The role of the father is an enormously influential part of a child's upbringing. After the viewing for my friend's husband, all I wanted to do was go home and tell my dad how important he was to me. The truth of the matter is, I know, he already knows.
Update: My father lost his long fought battle with kidney disease on March 1, 2016.