Since it’s father’s day and all, it’s about time I talked a little about my Dad on this blog. I’ve written quite a bit about my mom… but, not as much on my dad.
First of all, yes – he was an atheist. This was only something I was very aware of, because my mother made sure everyone in her circle knew it. To her, it was a BIG deal. But, “atheist” wasn’t a word that my father used much and isn’t one of the top adjectives I’d use to describe him (other than in this blog). It wasn’t like he ran around town with a sign or anything. He simply told us he didn’t believe in God… and he wasn’t going to go to church with my mom… and he gave us our choice to go with her or not. Ok – I have mentioned that part before…
But, lets go way back…
My Dad was a survivor. He was in a major fire when he was 12. He was burnt on 70% of his body. My great grandmother kept a scrap book, and there are articles… newspaper clippings… pictures… where they called him “Miracle Boy”… and said he was never suppose to have survived. But, he did.
He spent 3 years in the hospital… and many MANY visits after that. I’ve heard many stories about those times. Some terrible, but, true to my Dad’s nature – many were very funny. Like, how they wouldn’t let him eat before surgeries, and he was hungry, and how someone had given him a fishing pole as a gift, and how he had tied the bed pan onto the end of it, with a note begging for food and lowered it down to the street. :) He said folks would give him money, candy bars, whatever… LOL Or the time, he tried to escape in his wheelchair, and wound up in the maternity ward by accident… or when his dad smuggled in his pet dog, Toby.
Anyway – he wasn’t suppose to live. He did. Then, he was in a wheelchair for a long time, and was told he’d never stand. He forced himself to use crutches. They said he’d never walk again without aid. He did.
My dad told me stories of how he’d take his dog, and go out in the woods where nobody could see him. How he’d try and fall and try again to walk. Until he could do it.
Yeah… he was a survivor.
They also told him he’d never have kids. My mother already had my oldest brother when he met her. He was just a baby. My dad fell in love with both of them, and they married. Then – viola! My other brother and I come along a few years later.
Moral of the story thus far? Never listen to what “they” say.
Now – some might say my Dad should thank God he survived. And, some think my dad turned against God because of what happened to him. My dad said, and I believe him, that neither was true.
My Dad and I had many in depth, serious conversations on such topics. He told me the main thing that made him not believe in God was when he was in the hospital. Not because of the pain and suffering he went thru, but because of how much pain and suffering he saw close up that others went thru.
He said, he couldn’t get out of bed, but he could use his arms, and the nurses use to let him help out with the sick babies. They would let him hold the babies who just wanted that comfort of being held. Many of them dying from cancer or other long term diseases. He watched them suffer… and the many treatments they went thru. and their parents pray and pray… and watched them die. One baby in particular had a lasting effect on him… where the baby had some kind of metal thing on it’s head that was like a clamp. He watched that baby suffer, and saw many die. He couldn’t understand how any God would let this happen. This wasn’t his only reasoning – but, it was when he first lost faith and began questioning things.
Of course, I only heard stories of all this – and saw that scrap book. But, I never thought of my Dad as a survivor or “miracle”. He was my Dad. As far as I could always remember he walked… with a limp… but, other than that – he was strong, and tough, and I thought he could do anything.
We didn’t realize that his scars were strange. Or how much he had overcome. Or how his legs and feet, just scar tissue and bones, hurt him immensely every day. He winced every once in a while when we jumped on his lap, or banged into his foot… but, he never went around complaining of pain or talking much about it. We never noticed how he stood still as a rock when we played catch. But, wow, did he have long arms! Us kids never noticed how he never wore shorts… and only went swimming in our pool at night when it was dark… or changed the TV channel whenever a movie showed someone on fire….
It wasn’t until I was older that I learned more about his scars and what they all meant. I never really noticed them before that. But, as I grew older – we talked more – I wanted to know.
My Dad taught my brothers and I to:
– treat others the way we want to be treated
– put ourselves in other’s shoes to understand how they feel
– do the right thing – not the easy thing
– speak up for what we believe
– stick up for ourselves, and each other
– respect him AND our mother (and grandparents, etc.)
– not to believe everything we hear… and only half of what we see
– be kind to animals, and those smaller or weaker than us
– have pride and believe in ourselves
– the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence
– that money doesn’t grow on tree’s…. and other life’s valuable lessons.
– that family comes first
Oh – and this one was just for me…
– “A guy always wants what he can’t have, and then, once he gets it, he doesn’t want it anymore”.
Of course, there’s more… but that’s it for now on Dad…