Location: Friendswood, Texas, United States

Monday, August 29, 2005

My Dad

My father will be 75 years old in a few days. He had a bout of colon cancer a couple of years ago. It was all removed with surgery. I was concerned, but not worried. He now has prostate cancer, not unusual for a man of his age. But, they are doing radiation and hormone therapy and I am worried. He just looks older and seems too accepting of the realization that most men his age only have 5 years left. I don't want to accept that he might not be here in a few years. It is selfish of me. He would rather go while of sound mind and still able bodied. I would just as soon him stay here forever to do my taxes, give me advice, be my stability. While he has very definite opinions, he is very non-judgmental and loves all of us kids even though he doesn't always agree with us.

In November, my parents will celebrate their 46th anniversary. Since Dad has gotten older, they seem closer than ever. He is more willing to let her help him with his diet during these treatments, she goes to the doctors and treatments with him, and he shares how he feels and side effects with her more often. He is letting her be more a part of his life than ever. He is even talking about retiring; it is nice that he is making time to spend with Mom.

When I was about 5 and on the high dive board of the pool, I remember being frightened. Then I would look down from the edge and see my dad's face looking up at me. I knew that I was safe then no matter what. Sure enough, I'd pitch myself over in what I imagined was a graceful float through the air - then slam into the water. I'd be all turned around, not knowing which way was up, he'd grab my arm and push me toward the side of the pool, giving me the bearings I needed to find my way.

We moved to a new neighborhood when I was nearly 7. All the other kids there, even the little ones, rode bikes. Getting on the big purple bike with no training wheels was scary, but I was determined that if all of them could do it, so would I. Dad steadied it as I climbed on. He must have run miles alongside me just in case I needed to be caught to break my fall. I trusted that as long as he was there, nothing really bad would happen.

As a teenager, we jogged too many miles to count. Sometimes we talked about stuff; sometimes it was just a nice, comfortable silence. Neither of us really knew astronomy, but sometimes we'd check out the diamonds in the velvety sky and find the dippers. Then, he'd point out other stars that he had learned.

My first date was to a high school dance. Before the event, we practiced several types of dances going around the living room. It felt like floating. We had "danced" before when I was younger at weddings, with him either holding me up by his chest, or when I was a bit older, me standing on his feet while he danced us around. When I came home that night, he was waiting for me in the living room watching the Johnny Carson show. He asked "Did you have fun?" and when I answered "yes", he seemed a bit sad. Then he asked "Was he nice to you?" I remember saying "yes, but he stepped on my feet a lot - he just doesn't dance as good as you". We both laughed then.

When I married, he managed to walk me down the aisle without ever looking at me. I kept wishing that he would look at me to reassure me, but didn't realize that it was harder on him than me. As he walked around the dress and veil, he stepped on it twice - nearly tearing my hair out. He was so upset, he could hardly see, I wanted to go hug him, but my legs were shaking.

The only time I remember seeing my dad cry with tears rolling down his face was when my Mom's dad died. Gramps had been a wonderful man to lots of people. Much later, when my children were born and we were discussing what the grandkids should call my Mom and Dad, I suggested they call him Gramps since I had loved my Gramps so much. He looked startled and concerned - as though he couldn't fill such great shoes. Then he looked pleased and proud that I thought he could and said "why yes!". I can't imagine that my kids could have had a better, more loving Gramps in their lives.

Gramps makes the best hot chocolate (from scratch) and milk shakes of anybody. A Gramps will take a carload of grandkids to the movies on a too-hot to be outside or rainy day. A Gramps can even convince a willful, stern parent that taking kids out of school for one day to go on a cruise with them is in their best interests. My Dad loved being a parent, but revels in being Gramps.

Friday, August 12, 2005

A friend finding directions

I am tall,in blue, on the far right. N is in green next to me.

One of my very best friends who I met through our daughters years ago is wanting to date again. She was married to a wonderful husband that died all of a sudden a year and a half ago. Reminded me of that Billy Joel song, "Only the good die young". Anyway, although I think it is healthy for her to realize that there is life after Howard (they were both only 50), I feel inadequate to help her. I've been divorced for 13 years now and hadn't managed to ever find "mister right".
Mister first husband of 12 years was an alcoholic. Everyone is entitled to their problems and faults - after all, he had to put up with me! But, after he broke our son's arm, it was time for him to go. At least I have two great kids from the marriage. Since then, prospects have been bleak.
For a couple of years, I dated a fabulous British man. He made me feel as though I were a better person when I was around him, I would have liked to make that a permanent state, but he didn't. Unfortunately, he raised my expectations of men. I now think that if I am ever lucky enough to have a second try at marriage I would very much like to feel cherished as I did at that time.
I have tried the internet personals, Houston symphony singles evenings, am involved in my church, and in my rowing club plus I work full time. None of these has produced any possibilities for me, I believe my chances of meeting someone are really slim. How can I help give directions to someone else when I don't know the way?