My dad just turned 78. He may not make it to 79. He’s held together by a pacemaker, a defibulator, a breathing machine, insulin and a cocktail of other medications. I doubt that he remembers the last day he didn’t have an ache.
Father’s Day is coming up and I wanted to acknowledge him.
I’ve been married for 23 years and a parent for 18. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned to appreciate about my father is that he stayed. He was always there. Nothing against my mother, but it’s hard to stay. The pressures of a husband and a father are immense and then there are the temptations that can lead to destruction. Staying is not easy. That’s why half don’t, even in the Christian community.
But my dad has stayed. For 58 years. Damn, that’s a long time.
We don’t have long, intimate conversations or man to man talks. I’m still waiting on “the” talk, but no pressure. I think I figured it out. We’ve never talked much. I’ m not sure that he knows how to talk to me and I sure don’t know how to talk to him.
But he stayed. His father didn’t stay. His father left when my dad was a young boy. So, he didn’t learn staying from a legacy. He learned it from love. I’d like to say that this staying is love for the wife, but that’s not always the story. It’s love for the kids. I saw this love a few times even though it has rarely been spoken. Once when I was 18 and stupid, I was about to drop out of college. I stopped by his work to tell him. I think he had to sign the forms (otherwise I probably wouldn’t have bothered to tell him). He didn’t tell me not to drop out, but said that he wished I wouldn’t. I could see the disappointment in his eyes. He wanted better for me. I never turned in the papers.
But staying for him couldn’t have been easy. My 2 older sisters gave my parents hell as teenagers. Sorry, sisters, but it’s true.
Even the easiest of kids make staying difficult. Staying is about sacrifice. Putting family first. Doing without the boat to buy the braces. And this is not human nature. That’s why the world is full of leavers. But not my dad. He stayed.
And he’s still staying. To the end. Finishing the race. Teaching his kids that it can be done.
And should be done.