As the sun has set on another Father’s Day, I sit in a contemplative mood. For so many years, Father’s Day revolved around my Dad. There were traditions, whereby we would go to a restaurant here in town (usually a steakhouse) that Dad would never go to on his own. We would eat and laugh, and talk about old memories and funny stuff. Then we would make the trip back home and everything was good. Those were the years before the Wheelchair.
After the Wheelchair, everything changed for all of us. We all had to learn a greater understanding of handicap accessibility and how it related to where and when we could frequent certain establishments. Winnie’s Tavern was a favorite of mine and my dad’s as well. But we couldn’t stay too long because Dad couldn’t fit in the bathroom. And if you didn’t know Dad, he never wanted to be a burden. So if we got Winnie’s afterward, I had to pick it up.
Dad tried to use his prosthetic leg, but he came across another problem. His prosthetic leg was placed on his right leg, which had an arthritic hip that could not support the extra weight of walking. So he became accustomed to being confined to a wheelchair.
The most painful day to watch was when the DMV denied his drivers license. Dad had driven with one leg after the amputation. He engineered a way to drive using a long wood slat to push the brake. When the DMV told him that he had to get the wheelchair out of the trunk, and he could not do so, that was the beginning of the end. Dad was never the same after that.
After these occurrences, Dad’s health started taking nasty turns. He was in and out of the hospital and nursing homes. We did manage to make it to Longhorn one year, and the last Fathers Day when he wasn’t in the hospital, he was right here at home. We grilled steaks and he had the best time laughing and joking with me and my wife and girls. After that, it was hospital and nursing home, then on to the twilight sleep.
My best memories of Dad were those times. Sometimes we would stay up late and drink beers and watch tv or movies. And we were occasionally too loud, so Mom would come out and casually remind us that it’s 330 in the am. And we would just laugh and drink another beer. Toward the end, Dad preferred Bud Light. I teased him, but I figured his body couldn’t do with regular/craft beer and his bourbon and Diet Pepsi’s. And besides, Bud Light isn’t so bad.
As I’ve gotten older, I realize that many of my peers have also lost their fathers. I guess we have finally reached the age where we no longer have dads. We are dads. I appreciate my two girls every day, and will help them in any way. I am sure that my peers feel the same way about their children, to help them along the way and keep them from making our mistakes.
So Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. Stepdads, grandfathers, and even fur baby dads. Dogs and cats need love too. And to all the dads in Heaven, including my wife’s and several friends’ dads, enjoy the silence while you can. We will be there, just not too soon I hope. And to you, Pops…we miss you, and we love you. Old Man