Today I miss my dad a little more than the average day. I am grateful that the last birthday he celebrated on earth was not brought down by his battle from cancer. Though I know it was only days later that he found out that he had leukemia, at least this day in 2013 he was able to celebrate fully.
Its hard to bring myself back to that point sometimes. Generally speaking, I ' m not the most expressive person when it comes to showing emotions. In fact, looking back, I am appalled at the lack of empathy and support I had for my dad. I was so practical and careful over the details and timing of meds, hospital visits, doctor appointments, ER stays, and the day to day trivial details, that I would only rarely REALLY check on him. He, however, was always checking on me. Perhaps it is the nature of the relationship between father and son, perhaps it was the nature of my dad to ensure the people around him (including nurses and doctors) were always taken care of, despite the toll cancer took on him. I tend to think it was both.
Even when the time came for him to pass, I was the only one to not cry and the last one to say goodbye privately. At the time, I wondered if he was still conscious enough to hear me. I like to think that he did, even though he could no longer communicate by then. I know, that if he could have, he would have been making sure I was going to be okay and not given a single thought to how he was feeling or that he was about to die.
I'll never forget that the day before he was to be admitted to the hospital to begin the transplant process he took me shopping. Now, you have to realize, I was a poor missionary kid having fresh from 3 years of rarely being home and more or less living all over the place and spending my nights on couches in peoples homes, the seat of a truck, or a thatched hut in the jungles of Ecuador. I was pretty use to having very little to no money. However, my girlfriend, now my wife, was flying into Seattle and I had begged, borrowed, and scraped the lin ing of my pocket to take her to the Space Needle --an excellent restaurant that spins a full 360 degrees in 59 minutes , giving you an incredible view of the Seattle skyline, the Cascade mountains, the Olympic Mountains, and Puget Sound. However, all the reservations in the world wouldn't help me if I couldn't get through the front door of the place.
My dad notic ed my faded and worn attire as only a parent does, and he knew I wouldn't make it though the front door even with my explanation that “Katelyn is pretty enough for both of us”. After a new pair of shoes, button down shirt, and paints, I looked like a whole different person. I was still an ugly duckling, but a well dressed ugly ducking. We took my dad into the hospital and got him all settled in with my grandmother , who would be spending the night to look after him , when he noticed my belt. My faithful belt, that I still wear to this day, looked every one of the hundreds of thousands of miles it had traveled. Without a second thought, my dad took off his belt and let me wear it, adding some comment of about the belt not really going well with the hospital gowns.
The following months were some of the toughest of his life, but also gave us much more time to spend with each other than we had in years. From the exploration of the underground Seattle tour, to the amazing Aviation museum. Like father, like son, we both love flying. I still have his wings from his navy days as well as his watch which I wear on days like today, even though it doesn't work. I really miss you dad, thanks for everything you did for me and the quality time we had in Seattle. That city will always mean the world to me because of our time there.