So I'm sitting here next to my daddy at his apartment. My friend Tammy is on my right. My son Justin is asleep in the recliner. The CNA from hospice is at the table patiently thumbing through a catalog...which is exactly what I need for her to be doing. See here's the thing. Daddy and I started this thing together and we're going to finish it the same way.
I was born to parents who had pretty much decided that after 9 years of marriage, adoption was starting to look like the only option. My daddy was active as a little league coach for my cousin's team with my uncle. He was former Navy and current civil service. He was a manly man. (For a fairly short guy. LOL)
Here comes this bouncing baby...girl. Seriously? A girl? I think he was okay with it. I like to pretend he was anyway. I didn't grow up in too many frilly dresses but I did my time in tap and ballet class. I wanted to play ball more than ANYTHING because my daddy loved it so much. I could hit and throw and catch as good as the boys...I just wasn't one.
And cars? Oh man... Daddy bought me a go-cart when I was seven. I was a speed demon with a Briggs and Stratton. Did I mention it was bright red? Then when I was 14, we went out and plopped down $1550 on a 66' Mustang. Did I mention IT was bright red? We spent a lot of time working on that car together. I learned about bondo and carburetors and transmissions. I loved that we worked together to make that car awesome.
When I was 18 and pregnant with my first child, I was SO afraid that I was going to break my daddy's heart. I think more than anything he was afraid of losing me. When he saw her in the hospital he was instantly in love with her...just like he had been with me. The other three...I think I terrified him by having them at home. But he was a good sport. He even brought donuts to the first homebirth! LOL
Before I turned 29, my mama got sick. Daddy and I took care of her...along with the hospice staff. Things that might have ordinarily been left to others, became our daily routine. Coordinating meds, cleaning the g-tube, suctioning out her lungs, changing her bed linens. They were things that we did because we loved her and we honored her by keeping her dignity intact as much as possible. We were with her when she passed and I knew for sure how much my daddy loved her when I saw him hold onto her body as he listened to her chest for a heartbeat.
And now it's my turn. I've done everything he's asked of me in the last few weeks. He has learned to rely on me in a way that I think has surprised even him. It surely has surprised me. I jokingly told him recently that all those times he wondered what it is that I actually do as a doula...well this is it. I'm here to offer him physical, emotional, and educational support. I'm here to advocate for him, as well.
It's almost over. It is 2:03AM on Friday morning. He's ready to go home...to heaven. (Another story...another time.) I pray that the Lord takes him soon and that he goes somewhat peacefully. He has struggled for a long time but never once have I heard him question God's will in any of this. From him I have learned what it means to be faithful in the face of adversity. From me he has learned what it means to be faithful in following a calling.
To everyone else he might be James, or brother, or Mr. B, or Herman. But to me he will always be my daddy.
Love you man...