From the very beginning I have always been a daddy's girl. My daddy could (and probably still) do no wrong. I have always respected my dad and valued his opinions on just about everything...we may have had a difference of opinion when it came to thoughts on an acceptable curfew during the teenage years, but otherwise he was the one I went to for advice about life. My mom was always there for the girly stuff, and is still the one I turn to for mom to mom advice and fashionista chats. Being an only child, I was always the center of attention. I didn't have to fight a sibling for my daddy's attention, it was all mine!
He, in no uncertain terms, has always demanded respect, but in return has always given respect right back. He showed me that being a parent can mean being a strict disciplinarian, and at the same time a loving teddy bear. They always say that a girl will marry someone like her daddy...boy did they hit the nail on the head for that one! My husband is like my dad in so many ways, yet just the right amount of different. People often learn about marriage from watching their parents. We say things like "I'll never be like my parents!" or "I hope I have a marriage just like theirs." When it comes to marriage and my image of what a husband should be, there were some pretty big shoes to fill, and they keep getting bigger.
My mother has been sick for most of my life. She suffers from Crohn's Disease as well as Peripheral Artery Disease and Degenerative Disk Disease. I have watched her suffer through illness after illness, and every single inch of the way my dad has been by her side. Never one to be overly emotional, I have watch him stroke her hair and tell her that he loves her just before she is wheeled back for yet another surgery. He has sat in more waiting rooms in more hospitals than most people do in a lifetime in their almost 43 years of marriage. I've watched him silently pray, although he never knew I noticed, while waiting for the doctor or surgeon to come and give us the news about whether a surgery was successful or not. Refusing to leave the waiting area for more than the amount of time it takes to use the restroom, afraid that he will miss the doctor, or they will need him and he won't be right there at that moment. I've watched all of this from the time I was in elementary school and all through my adulthood. Unfortunately, when you grow up with a sick parent, you become almost numb to the routines of hospitals and doctors, but nothing could prepare us for what we were all about to face.
Almost 3 years ago, my mother lost her left leg just below the knee due to her peripheral artery disease. Since then, she has been through physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care, holistic medicine and everything in between to help her walk again. None of it is working. While she suffers through the physical pain of her illness and loss, I watch my dad take on the roll of husband, housekeeper and caregiver. For the past 3 years he has had to do everything. Due to the pain she has and the injury she incurred after her amputation, walking with a prosthetic has not been possible. So, he has the responsibility of all things domestic (he likes to say that he makes a great housewife...hello 1950!), along with keeping track of her medication, which is a full-time job by itself. He does all of the shopping, all of the errand running and makes sure that she is as comfortable as possible. So why does this make him a hero? Because for my dad, there was never any other option.
I've tried on numerous occasions to ask him to hire someone to help with the daily house chores (I live 3 hours away and can only do so much through the phone). I've suggested hiring a nurse to take care of the medical needs and medications so he can have a break. My mom has said time and time again that she wants someone to help him. His answer is always no. He wants to take care of her. This is what he signed up for. Is it always easy? Certainly not! Are there days where I can hear the frustration in both of their voices? Absolutely! Let's be honest, no matter how much you love someone, spending all day every day with them can be a bit daunting! And yet he continues. He is a hero because he is what every little girl should expect from a husband and a daddy.
His devotion is boundless. His love, never ending. The sacrifices he makes to care for those around him are truly awe-inspiring.
As a wife and mother of two young boys, I know that I have married someone just like my daddy. Devoted, loving and awe-inspiring. I can only pray that I have the wisdom and knowledge to raise my boys to be remarkable and inspiring men and following in the footsteps of their daddy and grandpa.