There are all types of dads out there. The fun dad, the strict dad, the goofy dad, the intellectual dad, the stay at home dad, the working dad, the single dad, and the every other weekend dad (sometimes by choice- others times not). Sometimes you aren’t biologically a dad but for all intents and purposes you are a dad. Sometimes you are a single mother who fills the role of mom and dad. Whatever kind of dad you have, let me let you in on a little secret, they won’t be around forever.
Take my own dad, pretty easily dubbed the “goofy” dad, you could catch him dancing around in his tighty whiteys on a Saturday morning in the living room, or sneaking McDonalds happy meals as an after-school snack. He was the first to volunteer at the annual Christmas tree lot sale at church, and was front row at all my basketball games. He relentlessly embarrassed me by jiving around the house when I had sleep overs, much to the chittering amusement of my friends.
He paid out weekly allowances in crisp $2 bills and never skimped on book fair funds. But don’t even think about ordering a drink at a restaurant (“that’s where they get ya is on the drinks!”) water only for the Barlows. He took me on my ever fist roller coaster ride (and promptly instilled in me a fear of heights… to which I still cannot get over to this day) and terrorized me while watching Nightmare on Elm Street (really who lets a 3rd grader watch that?!) but he never complained when I faked falling asleep in the car so he could carry me inside and put me to bed.
So many people tell you to enjoy every moment with your children, “they grow so fast” they say. “Don’t blink or you’ll miss it” we are constantly reminded as we watch our children enter various stages of development and growth. What we don’t hear enough of, is to enjoy our parents. We take for granted that they will always be there for us with a quick call or drive across town. Words of wisdom to calm pre-motherhood jitters, or interest rates and home loan questions when you purchase your first house. We simply take for granted the one constant in our lives, the one thing that’s always been since we’ve been old enough to create memories, our parents.
My dad is terminally ill.
I have had to watch as the past decade has eaten away at the goofy, loud, tighty whitey dancing man that I have loved. Due to a degenerative brain disease he has slowly faded away both physically and mentally. The big tall man I remember from my childhood looks so small, frail in comparison. While that light and fire can sometimes be seen beneath the medicated sleepiness in which he so often finds himself, he is relegated to a bed, or a wheelchair unable to walk, needing help with everyday activities of living. Gone are the days of bookfairs and dancing.
So readers I leave you with this, enjoy your parents, they won’t be around forever. They may not be perfect, in fact they are most likely equal parts infuriating, embarrassing, and loveable, but they are yours.
I would gladly ride another million roller coasters to have my dad back, healthy and happy.