Father’s Day is rapidly approaching, or so says many of the advertisements that I’ve seen on TV. I’ve never been one to put much into the whole “I should receive a gift for Father’s Day since I’m a father” thing. I’m pretty blessed with things the way it is, and having what I have I feel no great anticipation for Father’s Day Sunday. All those advertisements did was remind me that this will be my first “fatherless” Father’s Day, my Dad passed away this past January. I know that Dad’s in Heaven and he’s probably having a great time, (I’ll bet that they serve pie for dessert in Heaven…every day) but we miss him nonetheless.
A quick range of emotions passed through my mind. I wondered if I should feel sad, melancholy or depressed? None of those really stuck out, well maybe a little melancholy, because I had such a great father (and Mom’s still with us). I thought of the many things that Dad taught and shared with me and how I carry those things with me to this day. I remember him talking to people back when I was growing up, and thinking then “Wow…he talks and jokes around a lot” and then, BOOM!! Thirty years later here I am and I talk a lot too.
Dad taught me right up to the last week that he was with us. He was in the hospital, it was pretty serious, we were finding out that there wasn’t much that could be done except to make him as comfortable as possible. He drifted in and out of consciousness. He didn’t talk. In the hospital room it was Dad, Mom, us three sons and our wives. It was grim. In situations like that, conversation is tough to come by…this was no exception. The end was coming….but when? Days? Weeks? Maybe a month? Grim.
I don’t know how it came up, but we started talking about Mom and Dad’s “stash” of liquor that they had under the kitchen sink back on the farm, when we were growing up. It wasn’t a forbidden thing, Dad and Mom both enjoyed a cold beer (especially on those hot Iowa summer nights with no air conditioning on our main floor), but they rarely drank the “hard stuff” which consisted of a bottle of vodka, some peppermint schnapps and bottle of Seagram’s V.O. Canadian Whiskey. I don’t even know why we had it; honestly, I just never saw them drink from the “stash”.
I used to get horrible sore throats when I was in junior high. Bad, like swallowing broken glass, sore throats. Probably two or three times a winter, don’t know why, but I did. Nothing touched the pain and I was probably whining about it to Mom one day when she said (mind you…this is back in the late 1970’s) “go get some of your father’s whiskey and gargle with it.” So I did. As I got to the bottom of that juice glass with probably a half cups worth of Seagram’s V.O. left in it I thought to myself “If cowboys can drink a shot of whiskey, so can I” and without hesitation I gulped down the rest of that whiskey. OH. MY. GOSH!! It felt like I was breathing fire for the next couplea minutes. My throat went numb. My belly warmed right up, and my head started to spin. I promptly went upstairs and took a nice nap. Seagram’s V.O.
I told that story in Dad’s hospital room and it took everyone’s mind off of the current situation for a moment or two and was good for a few laughs. A few minutes later a nurse came into the room and was attending to Dad, without anything coming from Dad in the way of talking or such. The nurse asked Dad “Charlie…can I get you anything to drink?” and Dad opened his eyes for just a bit and said “V.O.”. The nurse didn’t know what to make of that and honestly we were real surprised that he was still listening and wanted to chime in with a joke…but he was still there; making us laugh. For me….it was a learning moment, probably the last one from Dad…showing me some strong-willed character when he was near the end of his earthly life; still talking and joking with his wife, sons and their families.
I’ve been blessed. I am blessed, and God-willing…I’ll be a blessing to my wife, our children and our families that Mom and Dad have been to ours. As Father’s Day approaches in the coming week or so be mindful of the many positive influences that the male mentors in your life have had on you, whether they be your father or not.
Happy Father’s Day to you and yours in the coming week.