My dad drove down from Michigan to be with me. He was going to come down for treatment #3 on Oct 11, but “Immune Gate” as I like to call it, threw off my whole schedule, so when I decided to go in for treatment this past Friday he called and said “can I come down this week instead?”
I know I’m 35 and a big girl (although it might be hard to tell from the duckie neck pillow I now use at chemo thanks to Charlie,) but I have to admit, it was really nice to have my dad here. He drove me to chemo, told me jokes (that somehow seemed a lot funnier once I got the benadryl) brought me ice, and later when I got tired and cranky and stopped appreciating his jokes, was very patient with me.
He even brought me a shirt. My stepmom actually gave me a shirt last month from she and my dad that says things like “strength” and “love” and “hope” on it. I adore it, but I guess it didn’t capture that certain jen e se quoi that my dad was looking for, because he came up with his own and had it custom made at a little t-shirt shop on Mackinac Island. It’s a white shirt with a bunch of blue iron-on letters that say “Could I Get This Cocktail to Go?” I had to write the question mark in with a sharpie since my dad is not big on punctuation, but it’s pretty awesome and he rightfully was quite proud of it.
In fact I’m thinking of stealing his idea and mass producing my own line of funny cancer tees that say similar things like “Can I Get this Cocktail on the Rocks?” with a photo of an umbrella drink or maybe a girl doing the Sprinkler on the dance floor. The cocktails really aren’t that dissimilar when you think about it, and while the process of actually ingesting this current mix is not quite as much fun as a girl’s night out, the hangover is pretty similar, so I’m just going to go with it.
This is all just a long way of saying that my dad rocks. I’ve known that for years, but while it’s probably one part having cancer and 10 parts losing my mom, it especially resonates this year.
Here’s one of life’s cruel ironies: the people closest to us are oftentimes the easiest to take for granted. Our parents drive us crazy. Our friends let us down. The flip side of letting people in, is that they have now have the ability to push our buttons like no one else. And sometimes the Things That Drive Us Crazy can eclipse all of the reasons we let them in the first place.
I cringe thinking about all the times I would roll my eyes when my mom called back for the 5th time in a row while I was on some work deadline, to tell me yet another seemingly insignificant detail about her new sheets. But that pain brings with it a huge lesson that has stuck like glue: once again in the midst of all this (I’ll just call it what it is - crap) I find myself grateful. Grateful for my dad and his willingness to drive 9 hours just to sit with me and hold my hand, and grateful to forces bigger than I, that have given me the ability to appreciate my pops while he’s still to around to tell him.