"Even when you are 70 and I'm 95, you'll still be my little girl." It is amazing how such a statement lingers in my mind and my heart. My father has said this to me more times than I can remember, but each time he says it I can't help but smile and think how lucky I am to have a father that loves me more than life itself.
I remember looking at my father as a child in amazement. When we lived in our little brick home in Pennsylvania I remember sitting on the stairs leading down to our family room listening to him play the guitar and sing Elvis songs. He sounded just like him! I could listen to him for hours. At the age of three I couldn't quite carry a tune, but he was all too happy to let me join in and that was such a thrill for me.
We used to go snowmobiling together too. Sitting in front of him on the snowmobile I would help him steer through the glistening snow. I always felt so safe sitting with him. One evening we were riding through the park, which you were not supposed to do. All of a sudden we were met by red and blue flashing lights. My tiny heart raced as the cop got out of his car and came toward my father and I.
Wearing my ski mask to keep warm I kept my eyes focused on the ground. I couldn't, or should I say wouldn't look at the policeman. I was sure we were going to jail. Being a small town my father knew the cop and we were soon off the hook with only a warning. Breathing a sigh of relief, as I was sure I would be the youngest person ever arrested, my father had saved the day.
As I got older, my relationship with my father only grew stronger. No matter what, I knew he would always be there for me. Whenever I would doubt myself, my father's confidence in my abilities would always push me to try a little harder. If my father said I could do something, even when I was unsure, I trusted him enough to give it a go. And you know. . .he was always right.
Being an only child I got a lot of attention from both of my parents. My father never let an opportunity pass by to let me know how much he loved me or how proud he was of me. I know with all of my triumphs: graduating high school, college, grad school, new jobs, marriage. . .my father's chest grows a little more with pride.
When my husband and I were planning our wedding, I wanted to make sure I did something special for my father. Being in a wheelchair I knew I would not be able to do the "traditional" father daughter dance, however this was not going to stop me from doing something special
I talked it over with the DJ in our planning meetings before the wedding and together we came up with a great idea. I loved the song "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion for our dance. The lyrics truly embody what my father means to me. "You were my strength when I was weak. You were my voice when I couldn't speak. You were my eyes when I couldn't see. You saw the best there was in me." This song was my father!
I remember being at our reception and our DJ asking my father and I to come to the dance floor. My dad asked me, "What's going on?" and I of course just smiled. The DJ then said that I wanted to dedicate the next song to my father. I grabbed my dad's hand as the song began to play and we just listened to the words.
After a few verses the DJ asked for others to join us on the dance floor. My dad gave me a hug as we both looked at each other with tear filled eyes.
"I love you," my dad said to me, "I love you!"
In 2007 my dad had to have his gallbladder taken out. I will never forget this ordeal as long as I live. My mother had flown out just the day before to go to a wedding in PA. My father had been having abdominal pain, yet never let on just how bad it was. My father always hated doctors and was used to playing the tough guy that was immune to pain.
The pain became so intense that he ended up driving himself to the local hospital. They admitted him immediately as his pancreas was very enlarged and he had gallstones. Learning that my father was in the hospital, my hubby and I could not get to him fast enough.
On the two and a half hour drive to the hospital I prayed for his recovery and well being. I remember telling my husband through a stream of tears that I didn't know how I would look at him in a hospital bed. I being the one who has had numerous surgeries was used to being in the hospital, but my father. . .he was indestructible to me and I couldn't see him like that.
That night while I was taking a shower I just lost it. Since I need help in the shower it wasn't long before my hubby came in to check on me. When he saw I was crying harder than I can ever remember crying he just held me.
"That should be me in that bed! If only I could trade places with him! Dear God keep my father safe!"
The next morning we got to the hospital right when visiting hours started. Being that I had seen my father in the hospital bed already I figure the shock would be gone. When we entered the room he was asleep, he had an oxygen tube in his nose and he seemed to be breathing very hard. I FREAKED! My hubby said to me,
"You don't know what is going on. He seems to be resting OK. Why don't you get a nurse and ask why he has the oxygen tube."
From that point on I became my father's guardian when it came to his care. I hurried to the nurse wanting answers immediately as to what was going on. My mind was put to ease when it turned out the oxygen was to simply help him sleep better, and to keep him from snoring. My father could wake the dead with his snoring.
Being the worst pain my father had ever been in, he wanted pain medication. Unfortunately, the high dose he was given could only be taken every 2 hours and he still had 20 minutes to go. I decided I would do the only thing I knew might ease the pain. I went over to his bedside and held his hand. I'm sure in the big picture this didn't do much, but it did seem to put him at the slightest bit of ease. He was able to relax enough to say,
"Will you look at this? Here I am lying in a hospital bed, my wife is in another state and my daughter is sitting here holding my hand." We still laugh about that comment to this day.
Thank the Lord his surgery went well and he is as good as new now. I told him I would give him a reason to be in the hospital if he ever scared me like that again. He of course told me that he was just getting back at me for all those times I did the same to him when I was younger.
A father-daughter relationship like ours doesn't happen everyday. I am truly blessed to have him as my father. The love, safety, encouragement, laughter and pride I receive from my father are priceless. My father tells me how lucky he is to have me as his daughter, but I think it is the other way around. I am the lucky one to have him as my father!
Happy Father's Day dad!!!