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Monday, May 12, 2008

my hero

this is my dad.  born in 1921.... i guess that makes him 87 years old.  he had a near fatal accident involving a head injury 11 years ago today.  prior to that, he was exactly like the 70+ year-old swede on the 'participaction' ads Canadians of a certain age are so familiar with, who was in better shape than the average canadian man half his age. ("don't just think about it, do it!  participaction, get with the action"  all about keeping physically fit, and active) he'd been a trucker all his life. at that time had 2 sons and a couple of other employees doing the driving, and he still did most of the service work on 4 big semi tractor trailers, and their various trailers.  

after a 200 lb piece of metal fell on his head, narrowly missing crushing his brain, he spent 6 weeks in intensive care, and came out of the hospital an old man.  he sold the trucks, and the business, shortly thereafter. 

today he told me he and my stepmum are considering moving to a seniors' residence.  and he thought maybe he should get a cell phone so he could keep in touch with her when he's out running errands, getting groceries and such like.  she doesn't go out anymore. she's not admitting it to anyone, but she's dying of lung cancer.  despite a problem with double vision, from the accident 11 years ago, and the irretrievable loss in strength and vitality suffered then,  he's still a very independent man.  this was a very big thing, admitting that keeping up the house and yard are getting to be too much for him..... and admitting that they might need a lifeline... the cell phone.... 

so this afternoon, my youngest son, one of the family technokids, and i picked Dad up a cell phone. we programmed all the family numbers into it, and showed him how to use it.  in his big, calloused, blue-collar hands, the phone looked like a toy.  his fingers are so big and square there was no way he could punch those little bitty numbers to dial out, so programming the numbers in wasn't so much a convenience as a necessity.   and this man who has been my pillar of support for 51 years felt awkward and incompetent with the silly little thing, but he was determined to master it.  because it's a way for him to know the obstinate, and fiercely independent woman he has loved for 48 years is as safe as he can keep her without humiliating her.  

when i was a little girl, my dad was my hero.  today i understood that he still is.  


11 comments:

Cicero Sings said...

Your Dad sounds like a great man! I'm impressed that he knows his limits and is willing to move to a seniors' setting. Great also, that he is willing to branch out into the techy world ... master yet a new thing!

susan said...

You Dad shares that same look of tenderness that my own used to have. Thank you for a lovely post and a lovely memory.

gfid said...

cicero - i'm impressed (and surprised) too. techy new things haven't appealed to him, generally. and, well, i might be a bit biased, but i think he's pretty great.

susan - i'm the only girl, with 4 brothers, so i guess he has a soft spot for me. truth be told, i took advantage of years ago. the brothers called me, with some justification, a spoiled brat.

susan said...

and I was the only child - born after the war when my Dad was nearly 40 and Mam 30. the entire neighbourhood thought I was spoiled and they were all correct.. but life straightened out my egotism. what's remained is astonished gratitude/love that they never left me in a cabbage patch and walked away.

lindsaylobe said...

I love the way you wrote the story about him and especially your introduction. also the phrase -massive calloused hands that held the cell phone, determined to master it paints a rich picture.

Best wishes

gfid said...

susan - i don't think any child was ever 'spoiled' by being loved... though they often go through a period of not appreciating how blessed they are. we only learn how to love by being loved. it's the unloving things that damage us.

lindsay - i guess it's my years of being raised with rednecks. i find strong, work worn hands a very attractive feature in a man.... or a woman. and, i suppose i should be ashamed to say, any person who can't use his or her hands in some useful way is diminished in my eyes.... but i'm not ashamed of it. all my favorite people are intelligent, and not above manual labor.

susan said...

An explanation called for, perhaps. What I meant was that I was the only child at a time when most families were big - plus, both my parents (being older than the norm) worked since they didn't have the luxury of waiting around to establish the necessities like buying a house, car and affording trips to visit the family. So I got spoiled (according to the neighbours) with better clothes and trips to England now and then. The love was never a question on anyone's part.

clairesgarden said...

thats a lovely post about your Dad. I think fathers always have a speial love for daughters.

Gary said...

Very nicely written gfid. And you can see it all in his face - so much character. Hey! Maybe that's where some of yours comes from :)

gfid said...

su - i think you were the kid down the street i gazed upon with secret and fervent envy. i grew up in ill fitting hand me downs from the neighbors. no trips other than what i took in my fertile imagination.

claire - maybe more so if the fathers have many sons and only one little girl. i wore way too much pink back then... balk at the color now.

gary - yes, he's a character... but i think he'd prefer his daughter were a princess instead of a character, i fear.

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