Friday my mother thought Daddy was having a stroke. She's seen enough of them to recognize the symptoms in him.
He wouldn't let her call an ambulance, so she called my sister, who in turn called me en route to their house.
The kids and I already had plans to leave early yesterday morning to celebrate Father's Day with Daddy. I hoped we wouldn't be visiting him in the hospital, instead.
With my sister's next call, the relief in her voice soothed my worries. Daddy's blood pressure had already dropped and he seemed okay. She would stick around a little while, but didn't see a need to call an ambulance. Thank you, Lord!
So yesterday we were able to celebrate Daddy with lunch at Applebee's, just as he requested, and then hang out with him and Mama in my childhood home, talking around the kitchen table, dozing in front of the television...
...and giving thanks every single second.
We'll head home early today so the kids can spend time with their dad, too.
I'm wishing Tom's Pop a happy Father's Day in my heart. I can still hear his voice echoing in my mind. I hope it never fades away.
My heart goes out to his sons who are missing him so much today, this first Father's Day without him, wishing they could give him a call and tell him "I love you".
So I'll give mine an extra hug and "I love you" for them, and for all of you who are missing your fathers today.
In honor of Father's Day, I gave Daddy a print-out of "Why I'm My Father's Daughter". I'm re-posting it here. I'm so honored that it was chosen for "Best Lessons from Dad" - a slideshow on Huffpost 50 of posts about fathers. Hop over there and see what other daughters had to say about their fathers.
If Daddy answers the phone when I call my parents, our conversation is a quick one.
"I can't talk," he'll complain.
"You sound fine to me," I'll tell him.
"What? I can't hear you. Here's your mother."
And that's that.
Strokes have taken their toll on his vocal chords. The effort to speak is too much for him and his voice gives out after just a few words. Perhaps his hearing loss can be blamed on strokes, too. (Although hearing aids could help with that. Sigh.)
But he was never one to talk much, anyway, and especially not on the phone. If I wanted or needed to talk, I went to my mother. I could talk to her about anything, and I'm very grateful for that.
Daddy and I communicated in other ways, though. We teased each other and toured old houses. We fought over who was going to mow the yard.
He chauffeured me and my friends to the movies and high school basketball games before I got my license. He taught me how to drive, and tried to teach me how to play golf and be a better bowler...without much luck.
Instead, I tagged along with him on the golf course, satisfied to watch him and admire the beauty of the courses. We took road trips to visit his mother, traveling along the back highways with the windows down, stopping often to visit historical sites or other interesting places that caught my eye or his.
But words still formed our greatest connection. I was seven, maybe eight, when I uttered that inevitable childhood chant: "I'm bored."
"Bored? Here, read this," he said, handing me an old, mildewed copy ofBlack Beauty, "You'll never be bored again."
Well, I'm not sure if those were his exact words, but they should have been. I was hooked, and as long as I've had something handy to read (and I try to make sure I do), I've never been bored again.
Besides Anna Sewell's Black Beauty - and hence, every horse book I could get my hands on - Daddy got me hooked on historical fiction via James Michener and Leon Uris. It's still my first love.
He also introduced me to Leon Hale and his Texas-flavored, rambling, memoirish columns in the Houston Post (and then the Chronicle)...the inspiration for my own personal essays and blog posts, I'm sure. I still read his columns online.
Because of Daddy, I surround myself with books, and I'm partial to old ones.
I read our ancient copies of Black Beauty, Call of the Wild, Daddy-Long-Legs, and A Girl of the Limberlost over and over and over, and to this day the smell of a musty book takes me miles away in my mind to those stories.
When I enter an antique store, I head straight for the book section. Not to buy, necessarily, but just to breathe, feel, and say Hello, you're not forgotten.
Our house overflowed in paperbacks, too, though. Daddy always had one in his metal lunchbox, usually a Louis L'Amour, and when I followed in his steel-toed-shoe footsteps years later, I always carried a paperback with me to work.
Today neither of us consumes books like we used to. Daddy reads the morning newspaper, but then turns his attention to the television when he's not doing laundry or other household chores.
I'm always somewhere in a just-for-fun book, but it takes me forever to finish them, only cracking them open to read while I eat lunch. When I'm at home. And don't have something else I have to read.
But all of those books and words and voices still bind us, and despite the miles between us, and the words we cannot say, I feel him with me every time I open a book.
Thank you, Daddy.
Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.
~Ruth E. Renkel
Tom and I don't have a lot of money, yet we are blessed with riches, thanks to our fathers.
Happy Father's Day to all of you who fills the role of father to someone!