On this Valentine's Day I felt it was appropriate to profess my love for someone who is not my husband. No, I'm not talking about some hidden boyfriend, I'm talking about my "OGV", my Dad, my Original Valentine.
Every little girl has a man constantly by her side as she travels through this life, her father. I was lucky enough to grow up with both of my parents in the same house (married 47 years and still going strong), and I was lucky enough to grow up with a father who cared for and loved and supported my sisters and I every single minute of every single day.
I vividly remember one Valentine's morning in our house, I was maybe 7 or 8 at the time. My parents, mom especially, would go all out for breakfast on Vday, St. Pat's Day, Easter, etc. Red oatmeal with strawberries in a white bowl sitting on top of a red paper heart with a doily. Conversation hearts scattered across the table, cards on each of our plates, chocolate tied up in little bags, and a little gift for each of us. I remember my dad coming into the kitchen, as mom was hurriedly trying to get us all to eat so we could get to school on time, with a bag full of surprises and an armful of flowers for my mom and us girls. After he gave mom and my two sisters their gifts and flowers, he squatted down in front of me and presented me with my first Valentine's Day flowers (at least that I remember ;). I can remember the scene as if it were yesterday; I thought my heart would burst with love for my father, as I'm sure his was bursting with love for me.
As I get older with each passing year, I understand his love and concern for me even more because now the tables are turning and it's becoming MY turn to take care of my original Valentine, my daddy. It's the nature of the beast, the way the world works. They take care of us as we grow from infancy to adulthood, then we in turn take care of our parents as they descend into "old age"...that's such a horrible phrase but it's true isn't it?
I remember the day with perfect clarity that I was told my dad has diabetes. This was the first chink in his armor, the first tear in his superman cape, the first time I looked at him through the eyes of an adult and saw the reality that my daddy, my valentine, was a human being and not some superhero who would kiss my scraped knee and make the world better with his smile. After my mom told me the news I went out into the living room to find him asleep in his recliner with his beloved Chigger in his lap, and I was struck at how my childhood glasses were ripped off my face and I saw how, in the blink of an eye, my dad had aged, and he seemed incredibly frail to me at that moment.
As life would have it, we all proceeded along the course that has been plotted out for us. I was finishing up college, dating my future husband, planning our wedding, obtaining my first job and generally just coasting along in life thinking all was hunky dory. I hadn't given the diabetes a second thought, and had pushed from my mind the fact that *both* my parents were getting older and more problems were cropping up each day. Mom's back surgery, dad's cartroid arteries had to be cleaned out, both of them had to start wearing special shoes, their eyes were changing where driving at night isn't such a good option anymore (that must be incredibly frustrating).
But there were great times as well, along the way. The first grandchild, my nephew, was brought into our lives and I have had the chance to witness my dad be a *Dad* again. They laugh and play, kiss and hug, and of course "TB" gets taught a lesson or two from ol' "Nampa" along the way. I hope that my father's diabetes doesn't get out of control because I really hope he gets to see TB graduate from high school and get married, but if we don't *all* own up to the fact that the boogeyman is under the bed....well....you just never know what can happen.
But after a while the other shoe has to drop doesn't it.
All of our lives came to a crashing halt when first mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, then me a little over a year later. I can only imagine what that did to my dad. I remember calling them after I had gone into the ugly cry over the phone with Julie. Dad answered as mom was driving and I remember him laughing and saying "This is funny. I have a daughter in each ear" (Julie was on his phone, I was on mom's) *laugh*. Then I had to sucker punch him in the stomach because the words "Daddy it's breast cancer" had to leave my mouth and change our lives forever. http://stoutspontaneousevolution.blogspot.com/2010/05/how-it-all-started.html I remember being sucked into the vortex of time and feeling like I was five years old again, afraid of ET in my closet, calling out for my superman in the middle of the night to come and chase the boogeyman away and make me feel safe.
The father's day right after my first chemo I wrote a poem for my dad about how he was helping me realize that cancer would not beat me, or us. I wish to take a moment to remind him of what he said to me when the boogeyman was under my bed.
A little girl needs her daddy
To give her a father’s love
To soothe her when she’s hurt,
And keep her safe from harm.
A girl needs her dad
To show her a man who’s good,
To help her make right choices,
As only a father could.
A woman needs her father
To diligently be aware,
He’ll always be there for her
To sustain her and to care.
I love you because you're my father,
But you're really so much more;
You're a guide and a companion;
My first shining knight with his mighty sword.
You pay attention to me;
and listen to what I say.
You pass on words of wisdom,
That help me along my way.
When trouble rears its ugly head,
You always have a plan.
You flex your mighty muscles and tell me that
“Yes in fact you can!”
You’ve been all these things and more to me,
And I hope that you can see
How much I treasure you;
You mean everything to me.
So on this Valentine's day I just want to say that I love you more than you'll ever know, just as your love for me is beyond my perception. We all go through rough times, and we all have our own demons to fight and that's okay because we *WILL* win. Let me be your knight in shining armor (a girl can be a knight in this day and age right:), your superwoman with her cape, your boogeyman chaser. Whatever you need, whenever you need it is only a phone call, text, or email away. There's nothing I wouldn't do for you as you have done for me.
I'm with you every step of the way so let's put on some bada$$ shoes and kick some serious rear.
Happy Valentine's Day Daddy! I love you!