Growing up, I considered myself a Daddy’s Girl. I loved my dad. He worked his tail off to provide for us but, when he was home, he was my go-to guy. He was a quiet man but, had a great sense of humor. Many of my friends thought he didn’t like them because he didn’t say a lot. Over the years though he would come out of his shell with a few of them, mainly my college friends who would always ask about him.
My dad was a very special man born with Hemophilia, he faced a lot of challenges. He required numerous blood transfusions, meaning long stays in hospitals far from home. If he got hurt or even bruised he ran the risk of extensive bleeding so, he wasn’t able to play sports. I don’t know a lot about my dad’s childhood because he didn’t talk about it much. I do know that his youngest brother was also a Hemophiliac and struggled as my dad did. My dad was a natural leader and took care of my uncle in their long hospital stays.
Over the years, crazy things would happen to my dad. Things that shouldn’t happen to anyone. When I was four years old, my dad was working in the garage, standing on a ladder when it collapsed beneath him. I was the only witness. He fell and hit his head. Days later he had a brain hemorrhage and stroke, leaving him paralyzed on his left side for the rest of his life. He spent nearly a year, from what I remember, in the hospital and wasn’t supposed to make it. After he came home, he was in physical therapy, had visiting nurses, and still went back to work. My mom once told me that if he hadn’t have had to go back to work when he did, he may have been able to regain more use of his left hand. A year after, he was home from the hospital my dad fell down the stairs, breaking his right arm.
Through the years, hospitals became the norm for my family. With the progression of time and technology my dad was able to get his transfusions at home and didn’t have to visit as often. But, it always seemed like there was another surgery for deterioration or a random fall.
Through it all my dad was a pillar for our family. He was my hero.
When I started high school I was in the marching band, meaning long days and nights at football games and competitions. My dad went to all of them, even some of the away games. When I hit my senior year of high school my dad got laid off from his job so, he was home a lot more. Every day after school I would come home and have lunch with him. The day that I got my acceptance letter to TCU, I opened it with him in his study.
When I went to college it was a hard day when my parents dropped me off. Even my second year, I cried when my dad left me there. But, just like high school except that my school was now 4 hours away, my dad came to every football game to see me in the marching band and afterwards he would take me and some of my friends out to dinner a tradition that continued until my brother graduated from the same school. He never missed a game. Every home game the band would march around the stadium before going in and my dad was a permanent fixture at the gates waiting for us before he would go to his seat. My friends would wave and every time tell me they saw him. During our pregame performance one of my spots was directly in front of where he sat and I would stick my tongue out or wave.
When I got my own apartment, he would come and stay with me. When I got married, he had his own room at our first apartment and then our house. We would go to the TCU games together when I wasn’t working. I would talk to him on the phone every 2 days and if he hadn’t heard from me, he would call to make sure I was okay.
After graduation, and even before, my dad was sick. During the 80’s blood scare my dad contracted Hepatitis C from tainted blood products. It lay dormant for many years but, had finally started attacking his liver. All of his life, he never complained, never said he was feeling bad, so you never really knew how sick he was. But, over time you could tell by his face and his mannerisms that he didn’t feel well. He was constantly going for tests and check ups.
In October of ’06, I had been married a little over a year, Mark and I had just moved into our first house and I had just been promoted to store manager for the company I worked for. I was also taking on the Breast Cancer 3Day, 60 miles of walking for 3 days through DFW. That weekend my dad was supposed to come stay at my house to go to a TCU game while I was walking. The first night of the 3Day I got a call from my dad that made no sense, he was experiencing dementia brought on by liver issues from the Hepatitis. I was in a tent in the middle of no where. I called my brother who was living near my dad at the time and he sent my uncle over to check in on my dad. That was the beginning of the end.
My dad went into the hospital and never came back out. He needed a liver transplant and a partial wouldn’t do (I checked because I would have given him my whole liver if I could have). There are a lot of gory, agonizing details that I would rather not relive. We spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in the hospital with him. My brother missing school, my mom and I taking off of work or driving down 5 hours on our days off, it was painful. I remember watching the SuperBowl and talking to him in his hospital room.
On February 18th, 2007 they found a liver for him. We all rushed to be there and there was excitement in the air. Then they opened the other guy up. .. the liver was too fatty. My dad had to have a perfect liver and this one wouldn’t do. It was hours before anyone came to tell us. It was excruciating when they did. I remember my dad starting to sing Happy Birthday to me because my birthday is the 24th but, I told him to stop because I was coming back on Friday to celebrate with him.
I went home the next day, only to come back the following. My dad passed on February 20th 2007.
I couldn’t believe it. My hero, my DAD was gone. The person that I went to for everything. He could answer any question.
But, I know that he is in heaven and he’s playing baseball. He loved baseball. I know that there he is comfortable and well. He is happy and doesn’t suffer any more. I also know that I will remember him as my hero not, as a sick man with numerous problems. I will remember him as a family man, a believer in God, a true friend and father figure, a natural born leader. I know that if he could he would tell me that is how he would want to be remembered.
I miss him now more than ever. I’m sad that he is missing out on his grandchildren and my brother’s awesome accomplishments. But, I know that he knows and I know that he’s proud.
I can only hope that Mark and I can be the parents that mine were. That I can live up to the standards my dad set. I love you Dad. Happy Father’s Day.