What makes a great Dad

June16

I think a lot about my Dad on Father’s Day and what being a great Dad really means.

When I was 18 months old I contacted spinal meningitis and then shortly thereafter, the measles.  I understand that I spent weeks in the hospital on intravenous medications that I would attempt to pull out on my own, so the medical staff’s solution was to secure me into this handy little device that they borrowed from a different area of the hospital-a straight jacket.  Hospitals had different policies and approaches in those days, parents were restricted to the same visiting hours as everyone else and my parents were able to visit me for an hour in the afternoon and another hour in the evening.  They spent most of this time trying to coax me to eat as I was notoriously picky while a child (ironic).  I refused all hospital food and my parents would sneak up bologna and 7 up during their visits.  I have been told that there was some concern during this time, that I may die as other children had succumbed to the condition, while still others were left deaf or blind or with mobility issues.  I survived unscathed, with the exception of night terrors while I was growing up, a fear of men (ironic) and an exceptional close relationship with my Daddy.

Years later, I have married a man who has many qualities of my Dad and we have two beautiful children.  Daughter #1 is coming down with what we though was a flu so D and J1 head down to Minneapolis for a short vacation without us.  My Dad helps me nurse her back to health.  We were told to get any calories into her as we could because her violent vomiting seems to have subsided.  Dad comes over with fish sticks and freezies and suggests that he stays while she has a nap and I try to take a bath.  While I am in the tub, I hear her give a little cry from the couch in the family room.  I go to her to find that she is completely paralysed.  My Dad follows in his car while an ambulance whisks us to the hospital.  Daddy sits in the corner of the emergency room while murmurs of meningitis and brain tumors are being discussed with me by the doctors.  I remember him saying something which I could not make out.  When I asked what he said, he spoke up “Oh God, not again”.

After a day of various tests and a ct scan, D and J1 leave our car in Minneapolis and fly home.  My Mom and Dad are with me when he arrives and we get the news that there is no tumour on the brain.  Our beautiful, smart and perfectly healthy 5 year old has meningoencephalitis, a combination of swelling of the meninges (the tissue that surrounds the spinal column) and the brain.  They will not find out for a number of weeks what has caused the infection.  They set up a bed for me in the hospital room and indicate a chair for D.  That was the only night that I tried to sleep beside her.  I was pregnant with our youngest and our little 3 year old son was waiting for me at home.  D slept in a chair for a month by her bedside, would shower in the morning and then head to work for the day (we owned our own restaurant at the time) until one especially kind, family doctor encouraged D to go home with me and sleep in our bed.  He reassured D that they would be there every time Daughter #1 needed something through the night.  My Mom and Dad were there every day for afternoon visiting hours to bring little gifts of encouragement for our daughter and food for me.

I get really annoyed when I hear the phrase: “It is the thought that counts”.  My friends, it is not the “thought”, it is the act of being there every day; it is sleeping in a chair, it is “action”, not “thought”.  For me and for my children: action and devotion is what makes a great Dad.

How do I honour my husband on Father’s Day?  It is hard, no-impossible, for him to know what he means to me and our family, so I do what you all do.  I buy him a weed-eater and a nice pair of shorts and I fix him a dinner which he requests.  But then the next morning I am compelled to write something to share with the world.  He is the BEST Dad I know and I was loved by my own BEST Dad too.

Kath’s quote: “The father who would taste the essence of his fatherhood must turn back from the plane of his experience, take with him the fruits of his journey and begin again beside his child, marching step by step over the same old road.” ~Angelo Patri

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Love-that is all.


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