Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Best wishes to all those wonderful dads out there. 

In honor of Father's Day today, I thought it fitting to repost an earlier submission written back in March. 

A friend has said to me that I mask my disease and it's symptoms really well. I thanked her for the compliment, but in all reality this is not true. The REAL master of this ability is my dad. I am such a wimp compared to him. 

Dad is an eighty something dairy farmer living in the midwest. He is the toughest individual that I have ever met. On first meeting, this isn't immediately evident. He is a little on the short side, moderate build, wears glasses, and recently has started using a cane. 

Dad's toughness isn't apparent until his medical history comes to light.

My favorite Man of Steel story about Dad, and there are too many to write here, happened several years ago. He had been in his tool shed and showed up at the house with a huge bolt hanging out of his cheek. One can only guess how this happened. We suspect it was related to some of the power tools he has in his shed, but Dad wasn't sharing that information. 

Later, in the emergency room, after Dad refused any attempts to numb the area, the ER doctor was mulling over his options for removing the bolt. He told Dad that the best plan of action would be to send him to surgery, where it could be removed with the least amount of pain, and then a plastic surgeon could repair the wound without leaving an enormous scar. 

Naw, Dad said, and patiently explained how threaded bolts work - lefty loosie - righty tightie. Then he told the doctor to start twisting the bolt out, or he would start himself. It took a few minutes for the doctor to realize that Dad was serious. This is exactly how that bolt left Dad's cheek. A few simple sutures later, he was on his way home. 

Last fall, Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. The diagnostic procedures that led to this diagnosis were difficult and they led to an even more difficult surgery in which one third of his lung was removed.  I flew home to be with him and to help Mom care for Dad after he returned home. 

The day of his discharge, which took place two days before he was advised, Dad was glad to be home. He still had considerable pain, and I was prepared to spend a sleepless night keeping watch over him. But Dad popped a couple pain pills and hobbled to bed. He and Mom said their prayers and cashed in. 

I woke up eight hours later, and sat up in shock. Where was Dad? Did he actually sleep through the night? Then I heard the familiar sound of early morning news drift in from the living room, and I relaxed. He must have gotten up early and was probably sitting in his favorite recliner. I threw on my robe and headed for the living room. Dad. I checked his bedroom, but Mom was sleeping quietly alone in their bed. Not in the kitchen, basement, or bathroom. 

I was beginning to worry. He couldn't have - no, he wouldn't - I made a dash for the garage. Dad's car was gone. I woke up Mom and we both began to throw on clothes, in anticipation of issuing an all points bulletin for my AWOL father. 

Just as I finished lacing up my shoes, we heard the garage door close, and a very pale, very weak Dad came through the door. 

He held up his hand to stop our tirade from beginning. 

"I made it through this surgery. I am home safely. I decided that I needed to go to church to tell the Lord how thankful I am." 

He walked past us and went back to bed. 

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