Then and Now

I wrote this a few days ago as my dad was going through “unexpected” surgery…

Twenty five years ago I was in the same place. Then, it was waiting for my mom to get out of open heart surgery. Now, it is waiting for my father to get out of open heart surgery. Then, mom was only 45. Now, dad is almost 80. Mom never made it out of surgery and I am praying dad does. As my brother said, “lightning can’t strike twice.” It can’t. Right?

I wasn’t nervous then. I did not know I should be nervous back then. Strangely, I am not nervous now either. I am eerily relaxed right now. I should be nervous, right?

Dad is in good hands. The doctors seem very good. But the hands of God are the ones that he is really in right now. And, they are the hands we are all in. As I try and think of why I am not nervous, the only answer I can come up with is Faith. Don’t get me wrong, I am not looking forward to the next 5 hours of waiting to hear how the surgery went and the expectations of recovery post surgery. But, I do have faith that all will be well.

It is a strange feeling, not being nervous in the midst of trying times. No doubt my heart will jump when he doctor comes in the waiting room to give an update. I remember that night vividly when the doctor came in to tell us that my mom did not make it out of surgery. She died a few days later. It was a late night surgery similar to dad’s tonight. I never imagined being in this situation again, but here we are.

The night of my moms surgery shaped my life forever. On the day of her funeral I shaved for the first time. I don’t remember having much facial hair at the time, but that was a “big boy” day for me on so many levels. It also brought with it the new relationship I developed with my dad. Up until that day, dad was the guy who worked hard, came home, ate dinner and then relaxed each night. We were not to bug dad at night as he had had a long day at a construction site. Mom managed the house and our school work. Dad was our guy on the weekends. Pretty typical relationship for many during this time.

Dad became Mr. Mom the day she died. He was now home before us each day, making dinner and coming to all our games. Who knew he could make a dinner that was not on a grill? He was a pushover when it came to academics so Uncle Dip (don’t let the name fool you..he is a smart one) gladly stepped on us there. Dad took us for college tours, gave us advice as we entered the working world and has been a proud grandfather of his five grandchildren. I could not envision the guy I know now when I was 14. I did not know he had it in him. But, he did. His heart is big.

He used to tell me he was “not the smartest guy in the world,” when I would try and argue my way in or out of something as a teenager. “Your mom would be better at this”, was another line he would use in the same light. Well, I would argue he was flat out wrong (not taking a side here mom). I am just saying, dad is a smarter man than he ever realized. He is one of the smartest men I have ever known. As much of a curmudgeon as he is (he would complain about the Pope being in town because the traffic it caused), he has the biggest heart in the world. A heart that told him how to be the great man he is. Ironically, one that is being operated on as we speak. He worked it hard, especially the last 25 years.

His heart is what has guided him all these years. He gives off that “tough guy New Yorker” attitude, but it just a show. His heart is what taught me so much. I did not have the good fortune of mom and dad working at this game of parenting together for too long, but I am blessed to have the best tag team in the history of the game.

My life was changed forever in one day. On that one day I learned I needed to grow up, become more independent and treasure what my mom had taught me (and she taught me so much). That same day taught me that the man of the house is more than capable of “keeping house”, that you can think with your heart and some people are just born to complain (sorry dad, I never said you were perfect). So, as I sit here tonight, I know that dad’s heart is in good hands now. It isn’t a heart that is broken. It is a heart, like the engine of a favorite car, that never let you down and needed to be rebuilt. It got a lot of use.

And now that it is rebuilt, here’s to another 100,000 miles (dad came out of surgery fine and is recovering comfortably…poor Sondra, his nurse). Thanks to all for their thoughts and prayers.

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