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Hanging On, and Letting Go

September 8, 2008

[I’ll add more photos tomorrow – they’re in my other camera]

Sunday was my son’s first birthday.  It was nothing like my daughter’s first birthday.  What is it about kids that makes you attach to them in different, yet very special ways?  I have a bond with my three and a half year-old Darling Daughter like none other I’ve ever experienced.  Yet, I feel this growing attachment with my Smiling Son.  I’ve never snuggled with another male like I snuggle with him.  Just as I’ve never cuddled with another female, like I do with my daughter.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll most likely say it again:  If I’d known having kids was this cool, I’d have started a lot sooner!  I had no idea being a parent was going to be this much fun and rewarding.  This is awesome!

Now I know why all my previous coworkers used to look at me like I was an alien.  I was driven to keep working and finish the task(s) at hand, but everyone else just wanted to go home to their families.  No wonder the fire chief sent me that nice letter telling me not to work so hard and to seek balance.  I wonder if I would have gotten married any sooner if I’d followed his advice?

As we celebrated Smiling Son’s birthday yesterday, some thoughts crossed my brain.  In an age where infant mortality isn’t really a concern, we tend to forget that a first birthday used to be a really big deal.  In fact, we have some very close friends who have lost babies in the last couple of years.  I don’t know if I could survive the loss of one of my kids.  Yes, I am that attached to them.

I never knew I had the capacity to love anyone or anything this much.  It is something supra-natural inside of me.  It is this wholistic, meta-love thing.  So totally outside of my own capacity.  I’m not sure where it comes from.

But then today, everything came crashing down.

My Dad, who now lives in Colorado, has been out here visiting for the past month.  I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed him, until after he arrived.  It was a great visit.  Mostly, because I’m learning to “accept the Dad I can’t control.”  This is huge.

Usually I get quite frustrated with my Dad.  Probably no more frustrated than he gets (or has gotten) with me, but it is hard when two strong personalities come together.  However, I’m learning to let him be who he is.  This proved to be a good thing.

For instance, my Dad has never been a good money manager.  So, when he buys things he can’t afford, or spends money on things he shouldn’t, I’ve tended to try to correct him.  Or, if he associates with people I don’t think he should, I judge him.  Though I’ve really never made much progress in changing him, I’ve done a great job of alienating him – and creating walls in our relationship.

But in the last month, I didn’t say a word when we came home from a weekend away and discovered he’d had a sattelite dish installed.  I never said anything about all the “dates” he had while he was out here.  And yesterday, I didn’t say a word when he told me DishTV charges him $180/month just so he can get Mariner baseball games in Colorado.  Wow – maybe I’m learning (and growing).

Today was hard.  I genuinely was sad depressed about my Dad leaving.  First of all, his health is failing and it seems like he is “taking care of business” – as if preparing to die.  I hope I’m wrong, but he is selling things and making amends with people.  Second, I have really missed my Dad.  I haven’t seen him in over six months – and that wasn’t a quality visit.  He is my hero and I’m not used to going so long between visits.  And finally, related to the first, I have this premunition that I might not get to see him alive again.  I hope I’m wrong, but the thought just made me sad.

My Dad had open-heart surgery about 18 years ago.  Then a followup complication that nearly killed him.  Then 10 years ago he had a stroke that left him quite debilitated.  He can’t walk well, even with a cane.  He can’t stand very long.  He’s lost quite a bit of weight, and he seems very weak.  I might be wrong, and I so hope I am, but he quite frail and not very healthy.  I hope he lives a long time, but, one never knows.

All my life my Dad has talked about how tough he is – and he is.  Though his body has betrayed him, he is still tough.  However, on this visit, he never once talked about how tough he is.  Instead, he kept referring to himself as “a decrepit old man.”  He has also talked about how he is going to live as long as his uncle – who was 103 when he died.  But on this visit, he never once said that.

As we said our goodbyes, I just hugged and hugged him.  I almost cried – but unfortunately, tears don’t come easily for me.  As he backed out of the driveway, he glanced up and our eyes briefly connected.  It wasn’t long, but volumes of love were spoken.  I have been thinking back to a conversation we had when he first arrived – a month ago.

My Dad said: “It was hard to lose your Mom, and I’ve been struggling, but if anything ever happened to one of you boys, I don’t know what I’d do.”

I know he loves me – and that’s enough.

After he left, I got very melancholy and sad.  I went back to bed and the family left to go visit my The Wife’s aunt who is in town.  As I lay there, tired, but sleepless, a thought came into my soul:

Do I have any control over whether my Dad lives or not?


Then I need to let it go.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

With that, I let it go and got up and fixed the bathtub faucet.

One Comment
  1. September 10, 2008 10:38 am

    I understand about the whole thing with your Dad.
    I have a similar disconnect with my own Dad.

    He and I got to the point where he would try to control me, and then we had the first daughter and he changed a bit.
    My dad could never understand why I chose to be the stay at home parent for years. He thought I was a bit “fruity” and was scared that I would bring the family to ruin.

    Well, thanks to the girls, and God, my Deist dad has cooled a bit and is seeing what good has happened with me staying at home for 8 years.

    As for having kids late in life, I had my first at 32, I find I was much more prepared to take care of children. I was less selfish. And I get more from their hugs, and my wife’s hugs too, than I do from anything that I can buy.

    Enjoy this time.
    It’s well worth to have kids at a later age.


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