Most of us have had someone special in our lives whom we admired, emulated, and respected. Add love, and for me, that person is my Dad. Sadly, he is very ill at this time. He has been suffering from dementia for several years, and we recently discovered that he also has cancer. His health worsened a couple weeks ago and kept declining until he ended up in the ICU. Many are praying and providing healing thoughts for his recovery, and the family is very appreciative.
That said, this post is not about his condition. This story is about my hero and his beautiful contribution to the world. I do not know one single person who has not referred to my Dad as kind, selfless, strong, or charitable….or all of those things. When my sister and I were young, life was not always easy, as my mom had a severe drinking problem. My Dad kept us all together despite the challenges. He was always kind and fair to us. He was strict and stern when he needed to be, and with me, he needed to be, trust me. I was not the golden child, and that is for sure.
Once I was grown and entered the Air Force, my Dad was so proud of me, and I could see it on his face every time I went back home to Georgia on leave to see him. When I earned my bachelor’s degree, I was told that he took my picture and bragged about me to every one of his buddies and his boss at General Motors, where he worked. I have lived away from Georgia since I was 18, and on every birthday, he would call me and sing “Happy Birthday” to me, no matter how old I was. What can I say? He was and still is the best Dad ever.
When I came out at 35 and told him, I fully expected him not to understand. I was so wrong! Not only did he tell me he loved me no matter what, but he also attended a PFLAG meeting to try and understand more about the gay community. PFLAG means Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. I was so touched by his doing that; I remember crying with my then-partner.
He totally got me. He gets me. He always has. He is my hero, and although he forgets things every few minutes, I still hang on to his every word. He always gave good advice, and a better shoulder on which to cry was not to be found anywhere else.
I often look at him now and wonder what is going on inside his head and what he thinks about forgetting things and all that is happening around him. I will never know, of course.
I love my Dad, my hero. The man every man should aspire to be. The person every person should aspire to be.
I love you, Dad, and I hope you are with us for as long as you can be without suffering or pain.
**I am very sad to report that my Dad passed away this evening (1/20). My heart is broken, but I know he is no longer in pain. I love you, Dad. Rest in peace.