A Different Kind of Father’s Day Gift

I had a craptastic Mother’s Day. Not because my husband didn’t buy me anything or my kids were climbing off the walls or the house was a mess. I spent the day (and the two following) in the hospital with gastritis due to an adverse reaction I had to pain medication. Nothing says Happy Mother’s Day like an endoscopy.

My husband, bless his heart, took my three daughters to my favorite store earlier that week to find the perfect gift, because you know if you can’t find me something I love at Tarjay, you don’t know me at all.

Unfortunately, in the whirl of holding my bed pan to catch projectile vomit,  transporting our kids to and from their activities, and trying to keep his job, somebody forgot to actually give me the  special gifts.

A few days later I returned from the hospital, feeling weak but ready to get back to the world of the living, or at least those not on a liquid diet. I noticed a Target bag sitting in our laundry room sink, but figured it was one of my kids’ dirty practice clothes. Because my mom is staying with us during my recovery, and had generously offered to do our laundry in my time of need, of course I left it there unchecked. If I looked and didn’t do anything with whatever disgustingness lie in there, then I’d really be a jerk.

What I did find later that night when I decided it was time to start eating again was a stash of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Three cardboard containers of Vermont’s finest just calling out to me from the freezer in the garage. The pint of Half-Baked seemed to shout “eat me”  the loudest, so my spoon and I nestled deep into my lazy-boy for some quality time.

A few days later, I saw the bag out of the corner of my eye again, this time with the gray slipper sticking its nose out of it. Of course I let it sit there again, thinking maybe my mom had bought something that needed to be returned.

Then one day, my mom finally yelled said to me, “Will you please take your freaking Mother’s Day present upstairs?”

And so I did. I unwrapped the bag to find pair of fancy pajamas and a sweet pair of coordinating slippers. As opposed to my normal boudoir attire of stained yoga pants and a t-shirt that usually has a hole in it, this was an outfit I could proudly wear to the mailbox  and not get heckled by the neighbors.

Now, one would think that being in the hospital would be the perfect time to give me those pajamas, right? Not so much.

It was only later that night when he saw me modeling them as I was brushing my teeth that he remembered. I thinks his exact words were, “Oh yeah, whoops!”

To rub his nose in my  gifting superiority, I asked if there was anything he wanted for Father’s Day.

“No, but you can leave my gift in the sink and then eat whatever else you get me that’s left in the freezer.”

That’s when I found out that he let each of my daughters pick out a Ben & Jerry’s flavor for me. And while I was a little bitter to find out he plowed through the entire carton of Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream, I decided to forgive him, but only because there was some Boom Chocolatta left over.

Truth be told, my husband gets a pass on this one. I’ve been sick for the past three months and he takes care of me, my kids and our home without a complaint.  He stays up late every night catching up on work he missed because he left early to take my daughter to horseback, soccer try outs, a birthday party, haircuts or whatever else they need that I used to take care of regularly. The pajamas were a present, but the real gift is his love and commitment, about the only things you can’t get at Super Target.

Although I did find some great gifts that I plan on having the kids present him on Father’s Day, I think the real win is I am forever indebted to him. When a man takes care of you for three months, I mean really honoring that in sickness and in health part,  you can’t really needle him for forgetting some of the details. Plus he can never un-see some of the things I’ve gone through the past few months and he still wants to share a bed with me.

That means he leaves the toilet seat up…..I’ma gonna let it go. Wants to watch a marathon of Ultimate Fighting Ridiculousness? Letting it go. Leaves his wine glass in the sink every night even though the entire kitchen is clean and the dishwasher is four inches away?  I’m going to take several deep breaths, and it’s gone.

But eat my ice cream again…dude, then it’s on like Donkey Kong. Even love has its limits.

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Doing his favorite thing in the whole world, with his three favorite ladies.

Happy Father’s Day to my number one, and to all those men out there taking care of kids. It’s an important job you have!

 

 

Five Things My Husband Does Better Than Me

The other day my kids delivered a crushing blow. They told me that their dad was funnier than me. In fact, they called him “hilarious.”

What? How is that possible? Do they not read my blog? I am a hoot and a half.

After the initial sting wore off, it got me thinking….how do my kids see their dad? Am I missing something? Yeah, he’s kinda funny, usually more when he drinks, but he can be funny like making me chuckle every once in a while. But hilarious? Was I missing something?

So I decided to do some research. Using a very scientific methodology, I asked my children what else their dad did better than me. Here’s what they came up with:

+ Play soccer/running. Well, duh. He’s only been playing soccer since he was like five. He should be better. And I am sure he is part Kenyan, so no wonder he can run 47 miles without stopping.

Getting up early. Ouch. This one hurt. Apparently my kids have caught on that I’m not a morning person.

Boogie Boarding. OK, I had to give them this one too. He’s got mad skills. And I’m not a fan of getting in unless the water temperature is above 80 degrees, so he actually just wins be default.

Putting movies on in the car. You learn something new every day. Apparently even though they are only driving three miles to Ace Hardware, my husband will put on a movie. Sorry, babe. You’re busted.

Tickle fights. Yeah, mom isn’t into this one that much. I do often hear a lot of giggling right before they go to bed. And sometimes there are epic battles that include launching stuffed animals across three rooms. It’s pretty impressive.

Dad doing one of the things he does better.

Dad doing one of the things he does better.

Well, I guess I can sort of see why they think he might be fun. And in retrospect, there are some other things he does better than me that I don’t always share. He actually could change a diaper faster. And made better airplane noises when feeding the girls pureed squash. And had more patience when teaching them to ride a bike. And grill.  And he slices cheese better (mine are never even.)

And while my ego is still a little hurt, it just fuels my desire to win back my crown of being more funny than Dad.  But for today, I’ll let him have his glory. He’s sort of fantastic, and it is almost Father’s Day after all. Everyone deserves a bone sometimes.

May all the Dad’s out there feel the love this weekend. You are appreciated, even if we don’t tell you because we don’t want your heads to get too big.

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Today’s post was inspired by Mama Kat (makatslosinit.com).

It’s been 10 years, and I am still mad at my father

My dad was an amazing man. He was a high school drop out but extremely well read (he would always win at Trivia Pursuit.) He worked his way up in his company to become an award-winning sales executive. He made the most amazing egg sandwiches, and he baked cakes so delicious we called him Billy Crocker. And he could stomp you at ping pong, miniature golf or horse shoes without playing for years.

He was the type of dad that bought a pin ball machine on a whim and would go out of his way to visit McDonald’s just to collect a set of Star Wars glasses. He would write inspirational quotes on my lunch bags each day, some of which I still remember verbatim. He never said this, but I think he put in a 1-800 number at the business he started — at age 60 — just so his kids could call him whenever we wanted. He loaned money to those in need, and if they didn’t pay it back he would say, “They needed it more than I did.” He loved his family with all his heart and drove my mom crazy. He was just special.

He was also a smoker. And loved greasy, cholesterol-laden foods. He would only look at a salad if it came with a gallon of blue cheese dressing on it and thought chicken wings with a sauce called Napalm slathered on it was eating light. He never exercised and stopped drinking only because he had a bleeding ulcer.

He died January 1, 2004 from emphysema and lung cancer. And by lung cancer I mean a tumor the size of a grapefruit. And I’m still a little mad at him.

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Not that his expression shows it, but he was so proud when I graduated college.

It’s been ten years and I still pick up the phone to call him to share a joke or ask about what kind of auto insurance we should purchase. It’s been ten years and he is still the first person I think of when I look at my daughter’s baby pictures or watch a football game or play cards. It’s been ten years and I am still a little angry that he couldn’t give up those cigarettes that he tried to quit at 40, 45, 50, when he had an ulcer and they told him to stop, when he started getting emphysema and they told him to quit, when they put him on oxygen and we were scared he was going to blow up the house.

Although I try to reflect on the good memories — as there are so very many — it is hard not to remember how difficult it was for my dad to have self-control. It’s hard not to feel that he loved his cigarettes more than us. It’s hard not to be a little angry.

When I think about my dad, it’s easy to see why I don’t let myself get addicted to anything. Not coffee or television or chocolate or even my beloved wine. If I ever feel like I am getting too reliant on anything, I make sure I can quit, and I normally do it cold turkey. I was never very interested in drugs — mainly because I don’t like feeling out of control (poetic irony, wouldn’t you say?) and certainly not cigarettes.

And while writing this, it dawned on me why I even chose to spend my life with a man like my husband. A man who is so driven and has so much self-control, but also reminds me so much of my dad, from the way he teases my daughters and never lets them win to the way he proudly displays their artwork and gifts in his office.

It’s hard not to get angry thinking of what he missed. The birth of three more grandchildren that he would have loved playing crazy eights with or trivia games or chess. Three little girls that would have showered him with kisses and love and adoration. Three amazing reasons to quit smoking.

But I know I also was lucky. Although my dad was told he had three months to live, he ended up living another three years. And although it was painful to watch him deteriorate — struggling to breathe like a fish out of water, coughing so hard he passed out, and edema to the point we feared he would lose his limbs — it also gave me a chance to say my good byes. I visited often and called nearly every day regardless of where I was. We talked about sports, my career and my marriage. We discussed politics, world events and religion. I told him what a great dad he was and how much I loved him.

And somehow, I never told him how hurt I was, or that I was angry.  I’m a little surprised that I still am ten years later.

Loving someone who you know is hurting themselves is one of the most difficult things to endure. Watching by silently as years of self-abuse takes its toll is gut wrenching. And when I’m angry I think of all the things I’d like to say or change or do differently, but I know that the time I had with my dad was an incredible gift. Even a second you shared with him would make you smile.

So it’s taken ten years, but I’m finally letting my anger, my resentment, my bitterness go. I no longer want to think if only my dad had stopped smoking, he would still be here with us today, because I am starting to understand that I was given more than I realized, more than maybe I even deserved.  And his death, like his life, made me who I am today.

My dad and I in  1975.

My dad and I in 1975.

Yes, I finally understand that my dad did not do this to me, my mom or anyone elseHe unfortunately did this to himself.

And in letting go, I choose to remember his greatness, and promise to learn from his mistakes.   I want to continue sharing his memory with my kids and teach them how to love life as he did. I want to remember all the good — the kindness, the humor the generosity — because that far outweighed what we endured. And I want to encourage and empower other people to quit smoking — if not for their families, than certainly for themselves.

Because it’s been ten years since the most amazing man I’ve ever known has been gone.  And I’m still missing him.

 

 

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