When I was a little girl my Dad was the strongest man on earth and the tallest one too. He’d take my sisters and I for swing rides and taught us how to ride bikes, swim, and skate. All three of us skated like hockey players because that’s how Dad learned. He showed us grooves in the solid rock underneath us while hiking, explaining how that rock was scraped by a glacier thousands of years earlier. And he was always willing to give piggy backs and airplane rides.
Every car ride with my Dad would catch him singing, “Me and my motor-sicle” because he wanted a motorcycle, which was totally impractical for a family with three kids. When he spoke, knives never had a silent “k”, same with scissors and its “c”. One time my parents were visiting friends in England and were taken to a fancy restaurant, the kind where waiters roam the hall in tuxedos while offering guests items on silver platters. One such waiter approached Dad.
“Sir? Would you care to take a leek?”
“Why yes,” Dad cheerfully replied. “Could you tell me where the little boy’s room is?”
And he routinely claimed to be perfect, often while singing “Oh lord it’s hard to be humble…”
In elementary school I had to write an essay about my hero. I wrote about my Dad and how he got a call to try out for the farm team for the Montreal Canadiens except he’d hitch-hiked across Canada and was busy fighting forest fires in BC at the time. Dad’s lived an interesting life.
I was heading off to college when Dad decided to start his own business, showing us it’s never to late to chase your dreams. My Mom organized a combined surprise birthday and retirement party for his 60th birthday and invited all his friends, figuring we’d end up with a reasonable amount of guests. Every single person happily accepted the invitation, meaning we had seventy people stuffed inside a four bedroom suburban home. It was beyond crowded. Dad loved it. Somewhere I’ve got a picture of Jeremy wandering around the party with a lampshade on zir head, showing zie’s definitely related to zir grandfather.
Dad immediately began volunteering with Meals on Wheels, driving a small community bus, and transporting seniors to medical appointments. Even so he had more time than he knew what to do with. Karen lived two towns away back then. She’d be busy with her toddlers only to find Dad at the front door. He’d gotten bored and biked over. Could he get a drive home? Finally he got a full time job driving a school bus, which cut back on his biking time (and dramatically cut down on Karen’s impromptu taxi service).
This Christmas was quiet as my parents took a train across Canada to spend the holiday with Amy and her family. They had a good visit but Dad started feeling bad while he was there and his Crohns was upgraded to severe once he got home. He’s since been put on steroids and an anti-rejection drug usually given to organ transplant recipients.
Dad’s 71st birthday was on February 1st, a date he eagerly looked forward to…
Emma, Jeremy, Mark and I all showed up for dinner as did Karen and her family. Dad picked out angel food cupcakes for his cake and happily opened up all his presents. We left as he settled in to watch football. He was tired and sore but otherwise fine.
Then came yesterday. I called Mom to let her know I’d hurt my wrist at work and was going to see a doctor, half hoping she’d volunteer to drive me home. She worriedly informed me that Dad was feverish and exhausted. He had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon, which relieved me as I strongly felt he needed to get checked out. Karen stopped by and convinced Mom to take him to the hospital. It took both of them to get him into the car. He was discharged several hours later with nothing wrong but “mild dehydration”.
I got off work today to find a message from Karen saying Dad’s in the hospital. Once again he was feverish, exhausted, and incoherent. This time Mom called an ambulance and he was rushed to the hospital where blood tests show no infection. The doctor on call was all set to release him again when my Mom asked what she should do tonight when he wakes up feverish and delirious. This prompted another meeting. Thankfully Dad’s gastroenterologist stepped in and had him admitted. Now we wait for more tests and some different medications.
And now I sit here wondering when my Dad stopped singing.