Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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Unlucky 13

I’m not a superstitious person. Really I’m not. But today is my Friday the 13th and for the next year 13 will be my unlucky number. You see, today is the 13th anniversary of the day that changed my life. Thirteen years ago we lost my father to the demon disease, cancer. My dad was the kind of dad that every kid wants. He was funny, brilliant, dedicated, and he loved us. We always knew he loved us. He was affectionate and would never hesitate to give us a hug or tell us he loved us. And on the flip side, he was the bad guy when needed. I was sure his hand was as big as a frying pan when I was little. Or at least it felt like it was.

My dad was my first knight in shining armor. I remember being a little girl and just knowing I was going to marry him. Well, I was four, give me a break! But as I grew and started dating, he was the standard all men were measured against. And let me tell ya, he set that bar pretty darn high.

My pop was a big bear of a man, but he was all squishy and loveable on the inside. And a joker. Ohmygosh did he love a good joke. Or to pull a joke on someone, like his friend Mike Tyler. Mike owned a furniture store next door to my dad’s office and they were like-minded in the dry humor department. For grins, one day my dad bought a can of Skoal (disgusting, repulsive stuff), dumped it out and replaced it with chopped up raisins. Dad was a smoker, not a dipper. blech to both. Anyway, so he’s standing around shooting the breeze with Mike and casually pulls the can out of his pocket and proceeds to place a ‘dip’ in his lip, as if this is nothing new and happens every day. Mike’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head and he started in on my dad,

‘What are you doing?’

‘What? what do you mean?’

‘That! You don’t dip!’

‘Sure I do. I just started.’

it goes on for a bit and at some point my dad finally came clean. (I wasn’t actually there to see this, I heard about it later, I’ve inserted what I think may have been said.) But it really happened, we found the can in his desk after he passed.

He had a stubborn streak too, maybe that’s where I get my determination from. When he was in his very early 40’s he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I have a vivid memory of visiting him in the hospital. His tumor caused him to have a seizure commonly called an absence attack. It’s like the lights are on, but no one’s at home. He was driving late at night and had one of these seizures and wrecked his car. This was when the tumor was discovered. The news just kept getting worse. Not only was he in a bad crash, he had a brain tumor on top. My visit to the hospital after his wreck was earth shattering. Here was my Superman, lying in a hospital bed with an oxygen mask, two black eyes, and numerous other cuts and bruises. He wasn’t supposed to look like that. Things like that weren’t supposed to happen to my dad. That was the day I learned that yes, it can happen to me.

Dad went to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for treatment. They did the best they could, but were not able to remove all of the tumor, so he did chemo & radiation. My uncle bought my dad a goofy Tina Turner wig as a gag so he wouldn’t have to be totally bald. That stubborn streak served him well. The doctors told him that the 5 year survival rate for his type of cancer was only about 5%. Which means only 5% of people with that diagnosis live to the 5 year mark, post-diagnosis. What did my dad do? He told the doctors to piss off, they don’t know everything, and they’re sure as hell not gonna tell him when it was time to die. GO DAD! He changed his diet and lifestyle significantly and he did it, he lived, and lived well, for 18 more years.

I don’t know how I would have turned out if he’d listened to the doctors and not made it to the 5 year mark. I was 13 when he had his wreck. Thirteen is an awkward enough age and I was still reeling from my parents divorce when he was given this diagnosis. I am so incredibly thankful that I didn’t have to find out. I am however very sad that my children will never know him and how much fun he could be. How his laugh sounded or how great his hugs were. He always wanted grandchildren. He had big plans to spoil the heck of them and send them home. My oldest was born the year after he died. I tell them about him all the time and what he used to do and the things he loved and enjoyed. Fathers have a profound effect on their children. I just wish that every child was fortunate enough to have a dad like mine. The world would be a much better and  different place.

Even though it’s been thirteen long years, I still miss him terribly and think of him daily. I still talk to him sometimes too. Not as much as I did in the beginning, but I do. Even though it does get easier, you never get over it. The pain is just not quite as raw as it was initially, but it’s still there.

I love you dad.

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Dad, Daddy, Father, Papa, Pop, Pere, Padre, Papi……

So many names, so many languages (I didn’t even try any of the Asian characters) to me they all mean the same thing: Love. Strength. Hero. Mentor. Friend.

Yes, this is a day late, just like my dad was. Not that that’s a bad thing, my dad was known to be late on occasion.

It’s Father’s day and I find myself remembering my dad and all the things he taught me growing up. I wish I could spend the day with him, but we lost him nearly 12 years ago to brain cancer. I miss him still. I’m sure I always will. He had an easy laugh, a really dry sense of humor, and gave great hugs. Dad was also very generous, honest to a fault, and compassionate.

God bless him, my dad didn’t have an athletic bone in his body. I think the only sport he ever participated in (if you can call it that) was bicycling, but even that was only for pleasure not competition. Dear old Dad. When I was in 5th grade I think, I decided I wanted to play soccer. The drawback was there was no one to coach our team, so dad, wanting me to have the opportunity to try out a new sport, volunteered even though all he knew about soccer was that it was kick ball. He tried his very best to coach us. The poor guy was put on the spot at the first coaches meeting when they asked what our team name was going to be. Dad and the assistant coach, or co-coach, came up with a really terrifying team name: The Knee Kickers. And yes, I am serious. Can you imagine the fear we instilled in the hearts of our opponents? Yeah, I know, laughter, snickers, and even glee on their faces was closer to the truth. Dad tried his hardest, but we were so terrible, we only scored 1 goal all season. No, that’s not a typo, we scored ONE SINGLE GOAL for that entire season. Knee Kickers indeed. That was apparently all we were kicking then!

Dad was diagnosed with brain cancer when I was 13. Being 13 was traumatic enough, but my parents were divorcing, then came the blow of dad’s cancer. It was hard for me, but being a parent and just a bit older now than he was when he was diagnosed, I know the determination he had to beat the odds and stick around to help mold my brother and me.

Even though as a teenager, I adamantly refused to believe that my parents were not completely mental, I did learn a lot from my dad that has served me well in my adult life.

Professionalism is key, even when you’re just a teenager working in your dad’s office.
Treat people with respect, kindness and compassion, because some day, you may need that from someone else.
Never take anyone for granted, or take advantage of someone.
Honesty is always best, even when it’s painful, it’s easier to remember later than trying to remember what story you told to whom.
Family always comes first.
Find something you love to do and do it.
Don’t be afraid to show and share your emotions.
You can do whatever you want in life if you work hard enough.

If you can’t laugh at yourself, something’s wrong.

Dad had one quality in abundance: determination. Some may have called it stubbornness. I call it determination. He was determined to overcome the cancer and stick around to watch us grow up.

Unfortunately, 12 yrs ago, we got the bad news that the cancer was back and untreatable. He had done his job, we were grown, he was able to walk me down the aisle and present my diploma to me when I graduated chiropractic college and followed him into his profession. I’m sad he never got to meet my children, but i tell them stories about him all the time and show them pictures so they know who he was, even though he didn’t get the opportunity to spoil grandkids like he’s always wanted to.

Dad, never being one who liked being told what to do, decided when it was going to be his time to go, not when someone else decided it was going to happen.

I see a lot of the qualities my dad had, in  my husband. He’s a jokester. He likes to laugh. He’s laid back and easy going and doesn’t lose his temper easily, but when he does, you’d better look out! He works hard to take care of us, and wants our children to have better lives.

This is for all of the dads out there who love their children unconditionally, teach them the things they need to succeed in life, and for the ones who never had the opportunity. You are more influential than you can ever imagine.

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Daddy’s Little Girl

This is a piece I wrote shortly before my dad died eleven years ago today.

Daddy’s Little Girl

When she was born she was the apple of his eye

His was the first face she saw in this world

Eyes filled with joy and love

Endless possibilities in store for this brand new perfect life

He promised he would be the best, teach her all she needed to know

Protect her from the boogeyman, hug away the fears

Bandage her owies, kiss away the tears

Walk her down the aisle

Hold her hand through all of life’s adventures

When he saw he had done all he could

To help put her on the right path in life

He knew the time had come

He kissed her on the forehead, let go of her hand

And went home to wait for her

Her course in life was gently guided by his love

Now it’s her turn to carry on what he started

To make sure everyone knows the affect a daddy had on this little girl

I love you dad

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The Top 10 Things I Learned from my Dad

I’ve written another post on Father’s Day, so I wanted to write something positive and different about my pop.

The Top 10 Things I learned from my dad in random order, because I’m too lazy to put them in order according to importance!

10. Treat everyone with respect and dignity because you never know when you’ll be on the other side

9. We are all the same on the inside, try to never judge people simply on their outward appearance (seriously, have you seen any pictures of Howard Hughes in his later years? He was crazy rich and looked like a homeless person!)

8. Never settle for less than what you want, or less than what you feel you deserve, or let anyone tellyou that you aren’t good enough for those things, or in his words, don’t let the bastards get you down  (that was one of his favorite sayings!)

7. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re in serious doody, ha ha, I just said ‘doody’

6. Work hard and you’ll be rewarded for it (too bad my husband’s employees haven’t heard this one!)

5. Never underestimate the power of the mind. Remember, some things are mind over matter, as in if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter!

4. Family comes first, always.

3. A good fart joke every now and then is almost as  good for you as actually farting every now and then!

2. Anything is possible if you want it bad enough (as long as it’s not illegal, cause I’m not bailing your ass out of jail!)

1. Always, and I mean FREAKING ALWAYS tell the truth, no matter how hard it may be. You never know when it’s going to come back and bite you in the arse. (This I learned the hard way in high school and got grounded for a month getting busted lying. Did you know a month when you’re in high school is like a decade in normal years? Seriously! I nearly missed my Adam Ant concert!)

One more that I just have to add to this list, so i guess it’s 10+1 ! If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit! And that,my friends, is basically my pop in a nutshell. He was the best, he loved bad jokes, laughing at himself , photography and learning new things. I wish you could’ve met him, I know you would’ve liked him and I’m sure he would’ve liked you.

Happy Father’s Day dad!

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