Monday, December 04, 2006

Daddy's Best

When I realized that the tears were forcing their way from my eyes, I softly said good night to my father and quickly turned to walk away. Although, at that very moment, I never wanted to leave his side, I still couldn’t let him see me crying. Even though it was awfully painful to see him in that condition, I’m certain that his pain exceeded mine. He, not me, was the one who had just been aroused from the deep sleep that the anesthesiologist had put him in so that the surgeon could perform a pain-free surgery to correct the damage that was done to his back due to a spinal cord injury. But now, my father was slightly awake, and the pain was arriving faster than his ability to become coherent. I couldn’t risk causing his pain to increase because of the tension that would be caused from seeing me, his oldest, but still his baby, crying.

As I walked further from his room and closer to the waiting room, the flow of tears rushed, defying my very strong attempts to hold them back. Why was I crying? The doctor came out and told us that my father’s surgery was a success. Likewise, he told us that my father was likely to recover from the surgery in only a matter of twelve weeks. Despite the good news, I was torn apart. It was so hard to see the man, who had been such an icon of strength and joy, lying on a cold, hospital bed, Powerless and frail.

When I arrived back in the chilly waiting room, I sat down on the plastic upholstered sofa and shut my eyes as tightly as I could. The sounds of humorous chatter spilled from the television that was mounted on the wall in the far right corner of the waiting room. A Latin talk show was on. A group of women were watching the show, speaking in Spanish, and laughing hysterically. I wished that I could understand the language so that I could plunge myself in the joy that the television was bringing to the ladies. But I couldn’t borrow their happiness. The tears continued to flow.

I closed my eyes even tighter. The salty tears persisted in their escape from my eyes. I tried to concentrate on the strength that my father possessed. I tried to remind myself that the same strength that he tapped into to overcome the seemingly insurmountable odds of life, could surely help him to recover from this.

I started daydreaming about the times that Daddy would drive four hours from Houston to Dallas to pick me up from college, pack up my room, and get back on the road to Houston, without even taking a break. He was so strong and committed. I began to pray that God would not only help my father successfully recover from this surgery, but that He would also grant me many more years with the man who I loved so dearly.

My father, who was once married to my mother, had remained a father to his four daughters all these years. He defied what most people expected him, a black man, to do. He stayed present and connected to his kids. He not only gave his money to help my mother give us the best, he gave his time. He called every morning to wish us a good morning and to bid us a good day. He continued to help us with our homework. He attended school events, such as football games, science fairs, and awards days. He would always rush over to discipline my sisters and me as soon as my mother would call. He was there.

I began to contemplate on the heart-breaking phenomenon that I was introduced to in my young adult years. While attending college, I met so many young women and men, who complained about not having a father in their lives. Magazine articles and books were being written, pointing out the crisis in the black family. According to news reports, fathers were the missing variable from the black family equation. Minister Louis Farrakhan even help a historical event, the Million Man March, in Washington D.C. my junior year in college, 1995, rallying black men to embrace the love, joy, and responsibility of fatherhood.

I always felt blessed that my daddy insisted on cradling each one of his daughters just as God intended for a father to do. I felt even more blessed at that very moment. That’s why it hurt me to see him ill and in pain. My father did what many men, black, white, brown, or red, do not do. Not that he should get a trophy for doing what is the standard responsibility of a father. But he did more than that, he gave us his best.

The more I sat in the waiting room and recalled all of the wonderful things that my father had done for my sisters and I, my pity for my father had been replaced with admiration and profound respect. My tears of sorrow and fear had been replaced with tears of gratitude and unconditional love. I determined in my heart. That I would give my father what he had given to me. I would give him my best. I would use my best to help him recover all the strength and vitality that he lost from being injured and operated on. I knew in my heart that my best would help push him to a place of good health, stability, and strength. That’s what his best did for me.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful and intimate. It made me reflect on how much my loved ones mean to me. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...


tracey n. said...

I relate to your situation because not to long ago my father suffered from an illness that the doctors could not diagnose. His pain was so severe and even though I was with him most of the time he was in the hospital, it tore me apart to be with him. The doctors gave him the strongest pain medicine there was and still that did not help. After my oldest brother and I had a long talk with the nurses and doctors; we got him a specialist and he was better within a week. In that time I realized everything he had done for me and my brothers and I appreciated him even more and will do the immposible for him..