Update as of 5:30 pm, 12/13:
The following post predicted the imminent demise of my Daddy. Well…
His kidneys are still failing. And his heart is still in bad shape. But when my dad went to see his doctor this afternoon, expecting to get a hospice recommendation, he instead got some pills and some more time. Every day is a gift, and I am incredibly grateful tonight.
I’ll leave the original post up, though. You can never say to many nice things about your parents.
I’m heading to Virginia today to be with my family in what appears to be the end of my father’s life. My heart is shattering, even as I try to hang on to the faith I have worked so hard to cultivate over the last thirteen years. Gratefully, my faith is not so much dependent on me as it is on God.
In lieu of a new post today, I am re-posting what I wrote in April, when my Daddy’s kidneys first began to fail.
MY DADDY, originally posted 4/11
My daddy is in the hospital. My great, great daddy is sick. So musings on homeschool take a back seat today. Today I will tell you about my daddy. If you’ve been reading the blog, you’ll recognize him in his eldest daughter.
My dad is a Patriot. He repaired radios in the Air Force as an enlisted man. That’s when he learned how to play chess and ignite farts. He was in the last class of Officer’s Candidate School that didn’t require a college degree. (Which is a good thing, because my dad is also a college dropout.) After that he flew B-52 bombers.
He proudly hangs an American flag in front of his house, which I used to think was ridiculous. When I was in college, I said something stupid to him about how evil the military was. His shot me his signature rage glare and said, “Six million of your ancestors died because they couldn’t defend themselves. So don’t be so quick to criticize the military.”
My dad is Jewish. He has a mezuzah hidden in his bureau and uses Yiddish that no one in our gentile town understands. He married a shiksa and raised three Christmas-present loving daughters. When my first mother-in-law wanted me to baptize my baby, my father told me to go ahead and “do the hocus pocus if it makes her feel better.” Which is less dismissive of religion than his Giant Baby In The Sky theory, which is equal parts disgusting and funny. He doesn’t talk about it, but my guess is that he gave up on the whole religion thing when he parents split up.
My dad is a Child of Divorce, who defied the odds and stayed Married to my mother for almost forty-five years at this point. His mother was married at least three times (long story) and his father twice. He isn’t easy to be married to, but when my mom casually mentioned that she wanted a pool, there was a hole in our backyard the next week. And his smile is never broader than when he’s watching my mother enjoy herself.
I have that smile too. I look just like my Father. And that’s not the only negative trait of his that we share. We are both quick-tempered and scare our kids with that anger. We are always right. We act like the universe has mistreated us if the light stays red too long. We think the same things are funny and some times I can finish his thoughts.
My dad did the grocery shopping and cooked dinner Monday through Friday. He took the Rolling Stones to play pool when he was driving a cab. He went on raids with the FBI when he worked for the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. And he never let us use the black pens he brought home from work, the ones with the words United States Government on them, because we had not paid for them. And even though we never had any money, my dad took us to museums and taught us how to play chess and paid me to read encyclopedias.
My dad is a Scientist. He was an assembler programer for the IRS long before assembly programming was cool. He watched NOVA, helped us build lie detectors, and built his own telescope. He woke us up in the middle of the night to see comets and eclipses. He had a subscription to Scientific American, until the letter from the editor called it a men’s magazine for thinking men. He wrote the editor about what an idiot he was and cancelled his subscription.
My dad is a Feminist, even though he probably wouldn’t call himself one. He raised three daughters to get seven degrees. He bought us stilts and models and chemistry sets. And he paid for cheerleading uniforms and modeling classes and perfume atomizers. Whatever we were interested in that week. He is proud of the Doctor of Physical Therapy at Duke, and of the two who have foregone bigger careers to spend more time with his grandsons.
My dad is a Grandfather. He doesn’t tire of hearing stories about them. Which you cannot say about him spending time with them. That he definitely tires of. But he taught them how to play chess. And takes them to IHOP. And listens to their stories and laughs at their antics and goes to their games. The only thing that makes him smile even remotely as much as watching my mom have fun is watching his four grandsons have fun.
My dad is just another Human Being. Pretty amazing in some ways. And a big jerk in some others. But he’s the human being who is my daddy. I’m too old to hand out Greatest Dad in the World buttons. But I adore him. I love him and need him to get better.