“Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a daddy.”
My mom is smiling right now after reading that quote, I know it. Growing up that saying was stitched into a framed needlepoint that sat on my father’s dresser. My mom, not much of a sewer or crafter, had taken the time and hours to infuse that piece with as much love for my dad as stitches in the project, and then wrapped it up and gave it to him from me.
Many do not know that my dad is not my biological father. They wouldn’t know because I have grown up knowing exactly what the above quote means, and who my “real dad” is. For those of you who don’t, his name is Tim Bevan, and he’s pictured with me below at my college graduation.
I grew up with a dad who probably loved me more because we didn’t share the same blood. He loved me because he chose to, not because he had to because he helped make me. He would often tell my mom and I that he fell in love with me first, and then my mom. And I’ve always believed him.
It easy to forget the biology when it comes to my dad and me, because even without his DNA my mom managed to conceive a daughter that carried the genes of her future husband through and through.
We are both competitive and stubborn, short-tempered and intensely loving. I wear my emotions on my sleeve, and he wears his deep inside until they well up during a showing of “The Champ” or “Old Yellar,” at his daughter’s weddings, or during the birth of his grandchildren.
Because of our likenesses, my dad and I have had a rocky go of it at times, probably starting at age 1. I challenge him when he’s being an ass, and he does the same in return. We often agree to disagree and move on, and sometimes that moving can take a little time. We bitch and moan about each other, but deep inside we both carry a deep love for each other that rarely reveals itself to others, but is no less special because of that.
When I think of my dad, his bouts of sarcasm and temper are usually the first childhood (and adult) memories to cross my mind, but I know he would be surprised to know that right up there with those are memories that relate to the deep affection I have for the man who scooped me up at the neighbors after I had fallen in their driveway, brought me home, sat me on the closed toilet seat in the bathroom, and cleaned the gravel from my knee. I had to be about 4 or 5 I think.
Those memories are also accompanied by memories of my dad coaching my softball teams, attending every sporting event I ever competed in, teaching me sportsmanship, teamwork, and commitment, setting curfews that I never dared break, being chased by a bull in the pasture of my husband’s childhood home, playing horsey with a horse that just never seemed to go anywhere, being high school coaching rivals for local swim teams, Papa giving up smoking before the arrival of my twins before he was even known as Papa, and the list goes on.
My dad and I may be too much alike and too stubborn sometimes to tell each other how much we mean to each other, but my dad’s words, actions, and fatherly wisdom have been ingrained in me since my earliest memories, and they have since been passed on to my own children (unfortunately my boys have “inherited” his inability to spell). See I told you I had his genes.
Yesterday, I was flooded with memories of my dad and I, when he had a health scare that had me driving him and my mom to the ER to have him checked out. He was numb on his left side, and was feeling “off kilter.” You know he has to be feeling extremely awful for “The King of Minimization” agreed to let us take him.
We entered the hospital at 2 p.m. Within minutes they had taken my dad’s information and medical history, checked his vitals (his blood pressure was pretty high), and led us into a small cubicle with enough room for a hospital bed, chair and a stool, and pulled the curtain, assuring us someone would be with him soon.
Thirty-minutes later his nurse appeared to evaluate him, took his vitals again, and asked him questions about what he was feeling. He explained, giving excuses and his own diagnosis of what the problems were — minimize, minimize, minimize. The nurse took his vitals (his pressure was down a little), and she gave him a stroke evaluation. His strength was good, their was no weakness whatsoever on his left side, and armed with that information the nurse left.
Thirty-minutes later she came in to introduce us to our new nurse. It was a shift change. Great! With the brief introductions done and the first nurse telling us she had informed the doctor of my dad’s condition, the two left and we didn’t see ANYONE for another hour and half.
That’s when a paramedic student dared show his face beyond the curtain, and asked if he could do a brief assessment of my dad for his own educational purposes. What else did he have to do but wait, so my dad agreed. Once again he was evaluated for a stroke, and his blood pressure was up again. This was becoming a bit concerning with his pressure up again, and his symptoms indicating a possible stroke or heart attack. So why was he sitting there with no one monitoring his vitals regularly or even some probes on or something to check if he might be having a heart attack, because up to this point no one had even listened to his chest except the student who said he was listening to see if his lungs were clear. WHAT?!!!
Five minutes later a nurse’s aid came and checked the pressure again. Thanks!
Please understand I am not trying to bash the hospital employees because I know they are overworked, underpaid, and still, the administrators continue to make staff cuts, but I sat in our little hole in the wall for an hour and a half and watched our new nurse (who was very pleasant the two times she talked to us) visit with her co-workers about their families, and play around on the computer. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say she was probably doing some sort of work and not checking her Facebook page or Twittering about how boring her day was, but my parents and I were beginning to wonder.
Finally, THREE AND A HALF HOURS LATER, the doctor arrived (not the one the first nurse had mentioned speaking to earlier) and guess what he did? EVALUATED MY FATHER FOR A STROKE. Seriously! He sent him for a CT Scan (which took two seconds but another hour and a half to get the results) and thankfully my father wasn’t having a stroke, but he surely would have been dead or seriously debilitated had he been, and let me tell you the whole process scared the living shit out of me!!!
I’m not ready to lose the first man I ever loved, the dad who means so much more to me than any father could, and the sometimes grouchy but loving Papa of my three kids. And I hate that it brought this health scare to make me remember that.
I’d tell him, but he and I don’t do that kind of thing, so I’ll just let my mom show him this post so I don’t have to see him cry.
So now we wait. We send dad off to his primary care, and we don’t let him stop going to doctors until we figure out if he’s just getting old and needs to deal with this kind of thing for the rest of his life, or if we can find a way to get him healthier and feeling better. Because right now my family and I need him, and I can’t imagine a time in my life when that has never been, or never will be true.
I love you dad!
P.S. I’m seriously thinking of writing a letter to the hospital. At the very least shouldn’t a nurse have been stopping in regularly to check his vitals? I don’t think that would have been too much to ask. Anybody want to weigh in on that?