Friday, July 27, 2012

A Father Story

This was my first attempt at a "short" story about my dad that was to be submitted to for his awesome series of #RealFatherhoodStories. I kept it because I really like this story and obviously it means a lot to me, so while I was happy with the end result, I cut out so much from the version to dwindle it down to around 500 words. A major edit. So here's the original. Enjoy!

The most recent time I hugged my father was very awkward. I only did it because my wife gave him a hug and I didn't want to be outdone; and perhaps I expected him to make a note that my hugs are like being tucked in between the wings of angels. Prior to that specific incident, I really can't say when we hugged last. My family is not one for showing emotions physically or verbally. Regardless, I never questioned if we loved each other. The saying goes "actions speak louder than words" and I can get behind that, but in retrospect we probably should have been slightly to extremely slightly more outwardly caring with one another.

If I trace back my relationship with my dad, I would say that the moment that solidified my knowledge that he loved me and would do anything for me was the day after my 21st birthday. My brother, who really wanted to bond with me through alcohol, had taken me out drinking. Despite the fact that I am not a drinker, I agreed because that's just what you do when you turn 21. After a long night and a total of two drinks, I drifted off to my happy dreams.

Pain. That's what woke me up after a short four hours of sleep. The kind of pain that numbs your mind to anything but how much pain you're in, and it would not stop. I had this moment of thought that it might be normal. Maybe this is what happens when you drink? Why the hell do people do this to themselves?! As the minutes crept by slow enough to make me question if my clock was working, I decided that what I was experiencing could not possibly be a hangover as 1) I just plain didn't have that much alcohol and 2) I wasn't having the massive light-sensitive headache issues I always heard about. I had pain that wrapped around my mid-section, relentlessly stabbing my senses. Something was really wrong and I needed help.

As I lived alone at the time and had grown accustomed to being able to walk, I had only one phone and it was located in the kitchen. So it was rather surprising when going to stand up that I was quickly met by the floor. I just could not stand up with the level of pain I was having. As I army crawled inch by inch across a floor in desperate need of vacuuming, I had a little giggle in my head thinking that I just wouldn't make it to the phone. I don't know why I found it funny. I just had this notion that this could be what death felt like and hopefully the authorities would figure out the cause so that whoever rented the apartment next would understand how important it is to put a phone closer to the bedroom.

After certainly a long time and with a constant feeling that I was going to black out (maybe I did), I made it to the phone and frantically called my dad. I was really unsure of what state I would be in when he arrived, and my mind kept drifting back to the thought that two alcoholic beverages (both were very girly, one even had the word calypso in the title) would be the death of me. My dad probably bent a few speeding laws getting to my apartment because I don't think it was very long till there was a knock on my door. I was given a strong shoulder to lean on and I hobbled slowly outside to figure out the least painful way to climb into his SUV. I've always been short, but never had I felt so small as those few moments dragging myself into the passenger seat. Then, we set off for our adventure.

Something you need to know about my dad is that he is not cheap and he was very aware that I needed to be seen by a doctor, but he is also very much the type of person who looked at my situation and said, "let's get this done quickly." So while not exactly convenient to the guy squirming in the front seat hoping for any moment of relief, it was perhaps not surprising either that we stopped at two locations in the longest detour ever before finally arriving at the hospital. One was a private doctor's office that was clearly not open at 5 in the morning, a fact which actually infuriated my dad, and the other was one of those limited care places who wanted nothing to do with me after discovering enough blood in my urine to attract a sparkly vampire. So at their insistence, we finally went to the hospital.
In the end it was a fairly nasty kidney stone, but while my situation has garnered some sympathy and/or laughter over the years, it took years to realize the level of dedication my dad possessed that day. My adventures in kidney stones really sums up my dad as a parent. He will always try. He will always be doing everything he can think of to keep his kids happy and healthy, even now that we're all very much adults. He will always believe that he can protect us from everything.
The people in the emergency room initially sent me home with no pain medication and said to sit tight for a few days and see if the pain subsided. I was really excited that they didn't give any pain meds to a person in extreme pain, but they were too busy to actually look for the kidney stone. That's right. The initial diagnosis was, "Meh. *shrug*" After a full day at my dad's house I wanted to go sleep in my own bed, and he begrudgingly agreed. The next morning I was in serious agony yet again, and called my dad to say it was time to head back to the hospital. He actually said to me (yelled at me) that if I had not left his house, I would have been fine. To his very soul, he thinks he has the power to protect all of his children from everything in the world. He will always try to do anything we need of him, and even if his methods include a very pain-filled one hour detour, he does it because he loves us. He tries with every fiber of his being, and I love that about him.

So I don't always get the teary hugs or hear the words "I love you" from my family, and it's always been that way. We do what works for us....

...actions speak louder.

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