Continuing my series of things that I have cut from my book but think you might like to read, here is the next part. I actually didn’t put the entire section up, because I think I’ve spent enough time on my blog fawning over my dad, but I wanted to share the second part of it with all of you. Basically, I wanted to put the emotion out there, and in my opinion that’s the real meat and potatoes of the entire thing. The raw, unfiltered emotions.
You can never go wrong with a strong emotional outburst.
Quote me on that.
My Father, My Hero
My father taught me other things as well, like how to get everything done quickly so that you can rock out later, and to analyze every story for its barest of components. He taught me that Babylon 5 was better than Star Trek because it was more realistic in it’s dystopian view of the future thanks to human nature, even if technology would side with Star Trek. He taught me that you can only cut so many corners before you end up with a round wall. He taught me that there is nothing you actually hide from the people who know you best, but good parents will let you think you’re getting away with it if it’s important.
My father taught me how to build closets, hang sheet rock and paint drywall. He taught me that with enough determination, you can teach yourself how to do anything from carpentry to physics. He taught me that knowing a skill is more important than knowing facts. He taught me that people who could think would be fine in this world, and would create their own opportunities.
Just a couple of years ago he taught me you can survive anything if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
From my father I learned how to play chess, appreciate a good story, recognize a tall tale, and tell one myself. My dad showed me how to tell the grade on a bolt, and the difference between a bolt and a screw. He also taught me how to swear, and that if I was going to have those kinds of magazines than I had better find a better hiding place or my mother or little brother might find them.
Late December, 2010, I found out that my father had woken up one morning blind in one eye. After several tests with several different doctors, they discovered that he had what is called a “mini-stroke.” They figured out that he had a genetic heart disease that caused the top half of his heart to pump faster than the bottom half. This caused a build up of blood in the lower half of his heart that could then send out potentially fatal clots. He had been lucky that it went to his eye and didn’t cause an aneurysm or hemorrhage somewhere more life threatening.
It was the first time in my life that I can ever remember thinking that my father was actually mortal. He had always been a superman in my mind, and I just knew that he would always be there, no matter what. The idea that he could have died really struck home inside me, and pushed me to examine my own life a little closer. There is a 50% chance that I also have this heart condition. I could also be a ticking time bomb. I don’t know for sure, I haven’t gotten the courage to go to the doctor and find out yet, and even then it is still very difficult to detect.
It wasn’t my own mortality that convinced me that I should really push myself to pursue my dreams, though. Even with the knowledge that I could be in just as bad shape, I still haven’t even started to consider that I might have something wrong with me.
No, it was the thought that my father might not be here when I finally got the gumption to push away from the stupidly easy, comfortable life of unfulfilled monotony and chase the stars that finally made up my mind for me. I needed to do it, do it soon, and do it big.
My father’s health is good, his heart is regulated with drugs, his blood kept thin so it won’t clot again, and he’s been loosing weight. He and my mom moved back to Missouri from Montana in September of 2011, and they say that the difference in the elevation will help improve his condition also. He should be around to annoy his kids, spoil his grandkids and be the life of any party for years to come, decades really.
The scare did it’s job, though. It made us all realize just how important life and family are, and it pushed all of us kids to try a little harder to reach those goals he always knew we would.
I know I work a little harder to get things done now. I want to make sure I can sign a copy of a book for my father, and let him know that I was able to write it because he pushed me to do so.
When I was young, I convinced myself that I wanted to do anything but be my father. Ironically, at age 23, I took over my father’s job when he retired, and took over the house from my parents when they moved to Montana. I pretty much had become my father. I look back over the last five years and think about how little I have managed to fill his shoes.
I once tried so hard to believe I never wanted to be my father, and now, I regret that I haven’t been able to be like him enough.
My father truly is my hero.