Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Post For Dad

This is for my dad.  Also for family members who may not be up on dad's latest adventure, but the rest of you are welcome to read on, and I'll have a part for you to play at the end.
My dad is a powerful presence with just a touch of comic relief sprinkled in - just to make him mortal and to humble him a bit, I suspect.  As a little girl I remember he was long, long legs to hug when he got home from work.  He was the monster who chased us through a dark house when Mom wasn't home.  He was the gentle discipline - at least for me.  Mom would have thrown up her hands in exasperation and Dad would be the calm listener.  Now don't for an instant believe that he "got " me.  Not at all.  To him, I've always been the enigma, the free spirit.  (The funny part is, if he thinks I'm a free spirit, he's never really met one.)  But for argument's sake - and in my family most particularly - I am the free spirit.  I am the artist, the dreamy idealist, the perpetual optimist.  And the math dunce.
My dad is a math genius.  He can add, subtract, multiply, divide, and get the square root of columns of numbers - and all in his head.  He has dazzled us kids with his math parlor tricks since we were small.  My brothers went on to follow in his footsteps (well, maybe not the surgeon brother, but I doubt he failed as miserably as I did) and they are at least good to brilliant in that subject.  Algebra and I will never understand each other.  Geometry and I don't even speak the same language.  But I have other talents that my father can only try to imagine, except he has no interest in them, so I doubt he even tries to think about what it would be like to, say, hear music as it was written, or sketch a drawing.  He does sing a mean "Come, Come Ye Saints" or "On The Road To Mandalay" but it wouldn't be a tune that anyone, musically inclined or otherwise, would recognize.  He is hopelessly tone deaf, and gave up on all artistic pursuits decades ago.
I can remember when I was a child, though, and he would gather us all in the kitchen on Saturday mornings and whip up a batch of waffles or pancakes from scratch and no written recipe.  We would all take turns dumping ingredients and stirring.  In fact, one morning in the first week or so after I'd gotten married I woke up and laid there in bed sort of half asleep.  And I could hear them all as if they were just downstairs in my old house: my brothers and my dad clanging bowls and stirring spoons, and conversing about nothing in a just barely inaudible level - meaning I could hear them talking to each other, but couldn't quite make out what was being said.  I remember thinking that this was really odd, because I was miles away in our new apartment, wide awake at this point, and yet I could clearly hear the Saturday ritual that had been a part of my life for so many years.  Being newlywed, I suppose I was a little bit homesick, and "hearing" the familiar chatter in my head was comforting.
There were other kitchen forays - the attempt to cook an actual pumpkin and make pumpkin pies from it, and the time he made biscuits with jam baked inside.  Those mostly had the jam a little burned, but it was an exciting experiment in the joys of baking.  I don't think he does much of that anymore - my mother likes a clean kitchen and doesn't take kindly to grand messes in her domain.  But they are fun memories.

He brought home a camouflage parachute one time, and another time an empty (and clean) barrel for us to play with.  We made forts, and we learned circus trick after circus trick as we taught ourselves to walk around on that barrel.  He built us a sandbox to end all sandboxes, complete with a roof to climb up on with an attached ladder.  We made endless sand cakes and castles, climbed up on the top and either sat looking at the view from up there or having contests jumping off.
My dad took us on a vacation every summer, and sometimes in between.  We camped in Yosemite, visited my grandpa in Spanish Fork, Utah, drove down the crazy winding Lombard Street in San Francisco and rode cable cars, and saw Old Faithful.  The saddest trip was when we'd just moved to the east coast, and for Thanksgiving we took a road trip up through a bit of New England.  We had Thanksgiving dinner at a Howard Johnson restaurant, my poor dad trying desperately to make it jolly and fun.  I feel bad about that - I could have tried harder to be happy but I was 14 and moody, and all of my friends were back in California.
The best trip was a sort of graduation from high school celebration for me - a trip to Hawaii - Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.  I was beyond excited, but again - I probably wasn't as appreciative as I might have been because I was 17 and moody and self centered.  And I wanted to appear independent and cool, and there were my goofy brothers dorking around.  In retrospect, I was the one who was the goofy dork, but age really changes perspective, doesn't it?  But I loved that vacation - every minute of it - so thanks, Dad.  And even more, I love the fact that the trip was largely for me.  (Right Dad?  That's how I remember it, anyway, being the narcissist I am...)  I felt that he knew I would be growing up and on my own soon enough, and he wanted to give me something special.  He may not always understand me, but I am always his little girl.
My dad has always been kind of larger than life to me.  Smart, strong, capable.  Solver of problems.  But he is also someone who will walk miles at Lake Powell with a peach pit in his shoe, and only at the end of the day will he say "My foot is KILLING me," take off his shoe, and see that peach pit roll out.
I've never known anyone else who will walk outside barefoot at night and then come inside whining that "I cut my foot on a snail shell!"  He rarely laughs really hard, but when he does it goes on for a REALLY LONG TIME.  His eyes squinch shut and he just shakes, laughing silently and hysterically for several minutes.  It used to scare us when we were little.  We would cry and beg him to stop.  "Stop Daddy... please stop!"

So he is DAD - smart and strong - and yet he is really funny without trying to be.  He is a small town Utah boy transplanted to the big city.
Fast forward to Monday.  He was going to Hoag Hospital for a fairly routine outpatient procedure.  Home by noon.  Well, things didn't go as planned, and there was swelling and pain, and a mass of tissue extracted that was sent to the lab for analysis.  He ended up spending the night in the hospital, alone and (probably) scared.
I went yesterday morning with my mom to pick him up, and he was in rare form.  Barking at the nurses that he was ready to go home, and where were they - had they forgotten all about him?  He is a complete stranger to hospitals and indeed, sickness in general.  He and aspirin are not even on speaking terms.  He's had maybe 2 headaches in his life.  He has had prostate cancer for the last 20 years or so, however. His levels are still ok, but I understand they are slowly on the rise.  He stays fit by going to the gym and by staying semi-active in his company (Larry's Thunderbird & Mustang Parts!) and by reading copious amounts of books.  My mother (the fitness bulldog) makes sure his weight stays down, and that he eats healthy foods.  (And he does, except when he goes with my brother to the local Snarf and Barf smorgasbord by their work, and, away from my mother's watchful eyes, he can gorge on bad macaroni and cheese, and whatever else takes his fancy, including one of every dessert.)  He and my brother have always loved quantity more than quality - they just can't resist a "bargain."  Boys...
But back to the hospital - he was grouchy and more than ready to blast out of there.  And I understand the feeling - hospital stays are no fun at all.  You just want your own bed and a little privacy.  We got him home, and fed him a bunch of Tylenol PM tablets, followed by a sandwich.  He fell asleep right after that and I went home.
He was very worried about whether the lab was going to return a diagnosis of further cancer found in that mass of tissue, and I could feel dark fear grabbing at me.  So I prayed.  I prayed for my dad.  I prayed for my mom.  And I prayed for me.  Because I can't imagine life without my dad here.  I'm not ready for that.  (Are we ever?)  He still has more babies to love, and more children to play with and influence.  More big events to attend and be part of.

And he has a cruise to Alaska to go on, for heaven's sake!   So last night my husband and one of my brothers went down and gave him a blessing.  It's something we do in our church, and it's very special to feel our Heavenly Father's hand comforting and blessing us.  Sometimes we get what we're hoping for, sometimes not, but it's a time when we have done all that we can, and we now place it in our Father's care.  It's a bit of a private spiritual experience so I'll just say that we were assured that dad would heal from the surgery and that the mass removed would not prove to be a problem - and also that he should place confidence in his doctors and their advice.  I just talked to him, and he will go back to the doctor this afternoon for the official results.
I realize that this is all a bit personal for a lot of you, but I wanted to be able to give the account to family members who are out of state.  I'm hoping that all of them will either give Dad a personal call or write him a little message here in comments, and I'll be sure he reads it.  For those of you who are not family, but are friends and interested parties, I welcome all prayers and encouraging messages from you as well.  I think Dad would enjoy reading messages from any and all of the nice people who stop by my blog.  Even though I've not met many of you in reality, we've all traveled some real life roads together through our blogs, and it's been lovely to be able to have these little chats.  So feel free to comment and send him your encouragement.  That is your writing assignment today.
So to my Dad: Rest up, and feel better soon.  I  know it's hard for someone like you to be down - even temporarily - but mind your doctors and Mom, and you'll be a regular terror in no time.  And Happy Father's Day.  I know it's early, but there's never a wrong day to be thankful for your Dad and for the many examples of courage and unconditional love you've exhibited for me down through the years.  And Dad - when I get back from Denver we'll have a big old BBQ in your honor.  I know how you love to eat good home cooking.  Love you, Dad.


  1. karen, this is a wonderful piece about your dad. My father died on Christmas day and, ironically, so did his father before him. I wish my dad was still alive so that I could pay tribute to him the way you have so eloquently to yours. It's never too early to express appreciation for your father. It's never too late to reflect on your youth, own your immature and at times selfish behavior, acknowledge him for loving you regardless and thanking him for a lifetime of devotion to your family. Your dad has every reason to be optimistic no matter what today's test results reveal. Modern medicine, coupled with the support of family and his own zest for living will pull him through this. His dear daughter promised him a BBQ and, by golly, he intends to hold you to it. Bless you all! Yours is a family that many across America and around the world would envy. Happy Father's Day to your dad, and to you, dear karen, much happiness and a safe trip ahead.

  2. What a beautiful, loving tribute to your dad. I'll add him to my prayer list. You really look like him!

  3. Oh no! Hope you get better soon Grandpa! It was so great seeing you while we were in town. I'll call when I get back in town.

  4. Dear Karen,
    What an extraordinary person your Dad is! I am praying for good results and for healing for your amazing father. I understand what it feels like to have a dad with Cancer. We prayed and prayed, and worried and felt sick and helpless inside. Fathers like your dad make this world a better place. May he be blessed with an abundance of love during his journey.

  5. Oh Karen, what a wonderful description of your dad. I remember him always dressed in business attire and always SO nice. May you have many more Father's Days together.

  6. a beautiful tribute to a great role model...
    your family pictures are beautiful!!
    hope all the tests results come back ok.

  7. Dear Karen's Dad...thank you for raising such a wonderful daughter. I haven't 'known' her long. We haven't met in any way other than this delightful medium of blogs. She brings a freshness and her very own quirky sense of humor to my life that I relate to and appreciate. I feel she may have learned/gleaned some of that from you. It takes a very loving man to raise a daughter that feels so good about life and able to look back at her life with you with such love and happiness. Happy Father's Day to you, dear Karen's Dad. I wish mine was still here to give a hug and a kiss to. I'm gonna ask Karen to give you a big one for me...I'll just bet she does it as well as I would for mine.

    Karen...prayers and love to you and yours...

  8. How blessed you are to have a dad like that and how you are blessing him now with your appreciation and prayers

  9. Lovely post, Karen. Your dad is so handsome and he sounds like a wonderful person. I would LOVE to hear him laugh. :)

    You are a great daughter. You obviously love him with all the energy of your soul.

  10. I was happily reading this post about your Dad and was surprised when it turned to medical news. But, I kept reading and when I finished..it felt like everything would be just fine. I can tell you have a wonderful Dad. I do too!

    Happy Father's Day to Karen's Dad!!

    p.s. I always wanted to be the free spirit in my family :)

  11. Dear Karen's Dad,
    I adore a man who can be a pain in the a$$ when sick. Makes me feel right at home since I lost my dad when I was 14 and desperately wish I could have him now to pester to take his meds, holler at him about drinking, and mostly just nag him to get out and exercise.

    Consider yourself nagged!

  12. I loved reading these beautiful words about your dad, Karen. Thanks so much for sharing him with us, and also for allowing us a chance to add our prayers to yours.


  13. Karen, this brought me to tears. Happy Father's Day to a wonderful dad!

    p.s. I am the free spirit in my family too, aka The Blogger. They are still not sure what that is! ;)

    Sending love to you, Karen.

  14. I will be sending lots of positive thoughts and prayers to your Dad and your whole family.
    This was a lovely post that brought tears to my eyes. This will be my first Fathers Day without my Dad.

  15. Because we've never met in person, I enjoy reading little bits and pieces of your life to get to know the real you..and this was great! Your Dad sounds so special and I will add him to my prayers and wish him a quick recovery. I hate hospitals too..and I work in one! So my motto is "stay away from them, or if the worst happens and you find yourself in one..leave ASAP!" Ok, so my real motto is "Are you kidding me?" but if I had a second motto, that would be it! Great Father's Day tribute Karen!

  16. Karen, your dad is so good looking!! I can see where you get your good looks. I loved reading all of your comments about him. You are so very fortunate to have such a neat dad. I lost mine when I was only 10 so am always a little jealous when I know that most kids have their dads for a long time during their lifetime.

    And to your dad:

    What a lot of loving support you are getting from your family. I know it must be wonderful to know how very much Karen loves you!
    I will definitely have you in my prayers and I just know you are going to have a very happy Father's Day tomorrow. And, by the way, I would love to hear you sing, so there!!

  17. AWESOME BLOG, I love how beautifully you write about your dad!!! :)


  18. Karen, I read your caring words with such enjoyment. The love poured out with every word for your dad and your descriptions were vivid and rich. My prayers will be for a happy fathers day tomorrow for your dad and many more years to have him nearby to love and enjoy life. xoxoxo

  19. Happy Father's Day Grandpa. We are thinking of you, and we'll keep you in our prayers. We love you.

  20. Thank you for introducing us to your great Dad. He has given you wonderful life experiences, but most of all I feel the love as I read your words. I pray the future is bright for him.


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