My heart has been heavy this week. I've been trying to remain stoic by keeping up a happy demeanor so Robby doesn't become upset. Despite appearing to be status quo, inside I have felt like pulling out my hair and rage--screaming to the heavens: My Dad is sick, and it is extremely serious. Talking to him several times a day, I have the sense that he is trying to maintain a similar strong facade to protect me. Strange how parents always want to protect their children.
Scott has been a rock, listening to me ramble endlessly while conveying no new information. When I finally verbalized my worst fear, that my Dad was going to die without his knowing how much I loved him, he held me while I sobbed. I finally fell asleep from exhaustion.
When I woke, he reminded me that my Dad is sick, but right now is still very much alive. Scott's dad died suddenly when he was in college. He never had the opportunity to tell him how much he loved him. I know that I would burst into tears if I tried to tell my Dad, so I decided to write him a letter in this blog. He is one of my biggest fans, and no matter how sick he may be, he still hasn't missed reading a post. So please excuse this highly personal post, but I don't have the ability to express myself to him any other way.
I feel heartbroken when I contemplate the possibility that you will not always be on the other end of the receiver when I call you. I have become so accustomed to calling you throughout the course of my week, sometimes to exchange work stories (good and bad), to ask for advice, or just to complain. I have learned to rely upon your professional guidance as I navigate through my career. You have always understood my passion to help, and you have fostered and nurtured me as I stumbled to find my way.
Even though you may not always be on the other end of the receiver, rest assured that I will always carry your wisdom with me. As I find myself at professional crossroads, I know that I will continue to be guided by the advice and insights that you have already imparted. When I was staying with you during my internship 20 years ago, you told me to become the co-worker that brings donuts to the office. "It never hurts to have people like you, and spending a few dollars for a dozen donuts every now and then will go a long way." Well Dad, I've been taking the donuts (and cookies) to work ever since and that isn't going to change.
Although you moved away to Easton when I was in the second grade, you remained present in our lives. You weren't there for everything, but I can promise you that you were there for everything that was important. I don't remember the highlights you missed, but I vividly remember looking into the bleachers at my All-Star softball game and seeing you cheering me on. You were there when I won Miss Tip-Tam, when I was "girl #2" in the school play and for my graduations. You took me trick-or-treating, and endured more than your share of WWF wrestling matches. Remember you were given a speeding ticket as you drove to my amputation? But you made it in time to see me before the surgery.
You probably don't remember my 14th birthday, but it ranks among my favorites. You had just moved back to Harrisburg and drove over to Mom's house before I caught the bus for school. We went to breakfast for my birthday, just the two of us. Sitting in the booth at Burger King, happily munching on my french toast sticks, I felt like I was the most important person in the world. Although our relationship hasn't been perfect, I never felt abandoned or unloved.
I smile when I recall your reaction upon learning that you were going to be a grandfather again. You uttered the exact sentiment when I called you to tell you the same news 7 years later. "Holy shit. Are you shitting me? You're pregnant?"
You were at the hospital when Robby was born, passing the hours I was in labor by filling out crossword puzzles and chatting. You were the second man to hold my son, which in retrospect is appropriate. You were also the second man to hold Timmy. The stars certainly aligned that day, didn't they? You happened to be at a meeting in DC when he was born. I loved that you could visit us in the hospital that first day. I probably never told you how much seeing you meant to me, but please know how happy it made me.
I feel like our relationship was taken to a unique level when you moved in and lived with us for 8 years. I enjoyed putting dinners in the refrigerator for you to eat when you came home late at night. When we moved and were no longer near the donut store, I had fun baking you cookies to take to work. More than anything, I just enjoyed seeing you and having you in our lives. Robby adored having his Candy Papaw live with him. Remember the games the two of you would play? His face still lights up when he sees you!
Dad, there is so much that I want to say. There are just too many memories to recount, and I feel too much love to put into words. I think what I really want you to know is that I am lucky to be your daughter.
Please know that you will always remain present in our lives. Robby and Timmy will know their Candy Papaw and will learn about the impact he made on millions of people through his career. You could never be forgotten.
I know someday I'll pick up the phone to call you and you won't answer. I also know that you will still be with me, even when we can't converse. I will remember all of the professional advice you have given and will always consider what you would do when I am contemplating a professional decision. And yes, I will always bring donuts to the office.
Someday I am going to be overwhelmed with grief. Losing you will cause a hole in my heart that will always remain vacant. But please rest peacefully knowing that I will, eventually, be okay. I will keep it together for Jae, Sheri, and Jeanette. I know that you would want me to become their rock, to support them through their grief. I promise you, I will be there. After all, I'm your daughter.
Thank you, Dad, for everything that you have done for me and for all of the love that you have given me. I'm now 40 years old, but I've come to realize that I will always feel like your little girl, your Gupper. I love you, and I will always try to make you proud.
- I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.