6.14.2008

Fathers

When I was little, I remember being a daddy's girl. Somehow, I had it in my mind that my father was the greatest man alive. A hero. The smartest man ever. A rocket scientist (what I considered really really smart at that time). Memories of my father are thick within my brain, and close to my heart. I see:
-The view from my seat next to my father, in his 18 wheeler, back when I was very young. The passing trees & poles mesmerized me, and lulled me to sleep.
-Hiding in the bed, under the covers, when I was about 2 years old, while my father took a shower. I would lie as flat as possible, and try not to wake my mother, just so I could listen to him sing in the shower.
-The smell of his aftershave, and the feel of his whiskers grazing my chin or cheek as he kissed me goodbye in the morning.
-Forcing myself to stay awake long into the night at age 10, when we drove to Colorado to visit his parents. My mother and brother were asleep, and I didn't want him to be alone, so I strained to keep my eyes open.
-My father sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of our fireplace, head down, eyes closed, playing his acoustic guitar, and singing.
-The time my father stopped on the side of I-35, to help pull three men out of a fiery crash. The car was upside-down, and my father and another man were the only ones who actually put their lives in danger to save these people.

I would be lying if I said all my memories are fond. I remember the yelling, the fights, the arguments, the frustration, the panic, the pent up anger. I remember my mother's sighs, and my father's rage. I remember being the mediator, the one to smooth things over, the one to calm every one's nerves. I remember my own angst when my mother would decide to give my brother and I attention, before she even looked at my father.
Things were complicated in my family. From a very early age, I discovered that there are two sides to every story. I began to realize the story of my parents' marriage was different, depending on who you listened to. I remember the first time I realized that others were annoyed or embarrassed by my father. Sadly, I became one of those people too.

For all his faults, I love him dearly. I know, in his own way, he has done the best he can do. And that's all we can ask for, right? He's still my father, and I take offense when others speak badly of him. I also take offense when he speaks badly of other people that I love, so it all evens out, I guess.
He is my FATHER. We don't choose our parents, our parents don't choose us. All we can do is work at loving one another.

***

My husband hates hospitals. Not only was he hospitalized for a long amount of time when he was about 17, but he also had several relatives grow ill & pass away in hospitals. He had several friends die as well, while growing up.

When we met, we were friends first. We spent a couple of Saturday nights in the ER, because he and some of our other friends had gotten into a fight. I always made them all go to the ER, because I knew I couldn't just put a band-aid on the injuries they sustained. We spent about 10 hours in the ER once, while they stitched his eyebrow, his fingers, and took x-rays of his wrist. He laid there sweating. We laid head-to-foot on the ER bed, talking about all the food we wanted when we got out.

My husband took me to the hospital to give my mother a reprieve from her vigil at my grandmother's bedside. We were not even engaged at the time; just dating. He sat patiently in the waiting area for hours, while I lay on the bed next to my grandmother.

My husband took me to the emergency room countless times when we were dating. I had two heart conditions that worked against one another, and that summer, my heart medication no longer worked. Nor did any of the new medications my cardiologist put me on. So, it became 'the thing to do' several times a month: I'd call him and ask him to drive me to the hospital. He'd show up, take me to the ER, and wait with me. Then he'd go into the ER with me, sit & watch as the doctors worked on me, asking the same questions over and over. Then, he'd hang out for the next couple of hours, sweating, while the IV worked it's magic. We would lie head-to-foot and talk about food.

Five years ago, I had heart surgery. My medication was no longer working, and I had recently been in and out of the ER a dozen or more times in the last two months. There were no other medications for me to try. My husband woke up early, and took me to check in. He sat with me in the little exam room, waiting for the nurse to come and drug me up. He took a permanent marker and drew smiley faces on the bottoms of my feet. He held my hand when they gave me the drugs. He sat sweating in the waiting room for about 5 hours. He was the first person I saw as they wheeled me out of the OR to recovery. He stayed with me that night, uncomfortably sleeping in a chair.

Almost three years ago, my water broke in my sleep on a Sunday morning. My husband took me to the hospital, and did all the things husbands do when their wives are in labor. I pushed, and pushed, and pushed, and in between contractions, we watched The Food Network. My husband was sweating.

When they said C-section, I cried. My husband held my hand. He put scrubs on, and stood by as they cut me open. As soon as they pulled my girl out, he left my side, and went to hers. He videotaped her first few minutes in this world, and calmly whispered her name. When I passed out from all the medication, he held his newborn daughter, all alone, in the recovery room, as she cried.

He didn't have to stay in a place he hated, any of these times. But he did. He put himself in a highly uncomfortable position each time he walked into a hospital. That last time, he walked in the same way he had walked in every other time: nervous, uneasy, sweating. But that last time, the result was something far different: He became a father of a little baby girl, who stole his heart.
My husband is an awesome father. He is laidback with her. Adores her. Is so affectionate with her. Lets her make tea for him in her little play kitchen. Lets her put things on his head. Reads to her when she asks. Buys her cute clothes. Makes her laugh, wipes her tears, and kisses her boo-boos'. Gets rowdy with her, just the way she likes, and swings her as high as she wants. Calls her his 'love bug', and says silly things to her (like 'booger souffle' and 'mongo head') to make her say 'DAAAAADDDDDDDDD!', as she falls over in a fit of giggles.

My husband works very hard, and I sometimes consider him a workaholic. But he has worked so hard the past year to be home more, to spend more time with my girl. She runs towards the garage when she knows it's him; her face lights up when he opens the door.

Their adoration for one another is endless. It is all-encompassing, and lovely to watch.
I am so very proud of my husband, for the father he has so effortlessly become, from Day One.

2 comments:

Why Mom Drinks Rum said...

Awww, I always find when I am sick or in pain, and in the hospital I re-fall in love with my hubby because he's so sweet and thoughtful then.

mysecondjournal said...

Both parts of this post are AWESOME..

The 2 views of your 2 men.. Bravo