Saturday, June 18, 2016

Happy Father's Day

Father's Day is tomorrow and I never know what to get dad. Not just on Father's Day, but any holiday that implies something must be gifted: birthday, Christmas, etc.

What do you buy the guy that has everything? Two years ago for his birthday we set him up with a Beta fish. It was one of the girls' ideas. I think he liked it: he named it Brady, as in Tom Brady. (He's a Patriots fan and his birthday is near the SuperBowl)

Dad soon changed the fish's name to "Boring" because the fish did nothing. Mom was always checking if it was even still alive. Dad fed it and mom joked about it. The girls would change the water when we visited. Then Mom and Dad went on a trip and turned the heat down. Tom Boring died. I think the Patriots lost that year too.

Last December Dad had a stroke. Scared all of us kids into action. We can be a mighty force when we come together. We don't get all huggy and mushy and we'll tear each other down in a heartbeat, but if one of us gets hurt, we're as tight as Gorilla Glue. Sarah and Emily flew in to Connecticut and Tom,  Andy and I took turns visiting at the hospital. Dad recovered quickly and came home.

On the day Sarah flew back to Kansas, Dad had another stroke. This one had me being the "ambulance" and Sarah upon landing at the airport, simply boarded another flight back to Connecticut. This stroke was more severe and came with complications.

At one point he couldn't really speak but he was trying to ask me a question. He kept saying, "I don't know..." After he tried a few more times to make the sentence, I just said, "I don't know either Dad, but I know I love you." He responded by laughing a funny "hahaha" kind of laugh. Two thoughts went through my head at that moment. First was, "Typical Dad. He's still in there. Everything that makes him him, is still there." My second thought was, "I don't want him to think that my saying 'I love you' is a joke. Ever."

When Dad came back home, I moved into my parents house for a few weeks to help Mom get Dad, literally, back on his feet again. We spent a lot of time together just sitting in the living room; Dad doing his speech therapy or resting and me on my ipad. Occasionally one of us would be inspired to share something and then we'd settle back in to our comfortable silence. As much as I wish my Dad hadn't had the strokes, I am grateful for the time it gave us to be together in our own quiet way.

It is our relationship and it's a reserved one. Dad and I have never had big conversations. We just don't need them. I have great memories of doing stuff with my Dad. He taught me my first constellations in the night sky and took me out to watch meteor showers. We tried to see Halley's comet, we observed lunar eclipses, and he showed me how to make a pinhole camera for solar eclipses. I'll never forget the night he woke me up around 2 AM when I was about ten years old. We went out and observed a comet that's orbit was estimated to be about seven million years!

 Dad loves science and he taught me to love it too. He took us to the Boston Science Museum and the planetarium. For science fair, he taught me about electrical circuits and we made one that worked! The following year we made a more complicated circuit. It was my Dad who showed me that "learn by doing" is sometimes the best way. Talking about it doesn't always get it done.

Dad has nearly fully recovered from his strokes. A stranger would be hard pressed to think anything had ever happened. It's a gift I am not taking for granted. Not much has changed in our relationship. We are still not huge conversationalists. But now when I leave after a visit, I give my dad a hug and a kiss.

For Father's Day I think I'll get my Dad a bag of bird seed. He likes to watch the birds come to the feeder while he has lunch. And while I still don't know what to get the guy who has practically everything, I hope he knows how much I love him. Enough to not get him another fish...

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