Monday, August 27, 2007

I told you I would tell you about the Cancer...

I guess I'll try to say what I promise...

I want to tell you about the cancer that my dad has, but I don't want him to just be
C-A-N-C-E-R to you. He is much more than just some guy with cancer. Therefore, I thought it important to start with him, as a person first.

As is in most families, you find out little bits about your parents along the way and one of the things that I've learned about mine, is the perseverance that they have. They always did and continue to find a way to make things work. I don't know if it's a personality trait they have, or if it's true faith, but something keeps them going every day no matter what struggles they face.
My dad was born on April 15, 1952 in Indiana. He didn't lead a charmed childhood, like the 1950's and 60's that we like to remember. His father was an alcoholic who hardly ever worked, and his mom, did work, which wasn't common for the time.

During his childhood, he and his brother and sisters often did without and were made fun of at school for doing without! However, they still had good times. My grandparents had a daughter late in life, (My dad was about 12 at the time), and since my grandpa spent most of his time at the bar drinking, and my grandma spent her time at the liquor store working, it left my Dad to raise his sister. It's only been recently that I found out about all he has done for her in terms of getting her up and ready for school, reading and playing with her, and making meals for her.

My parents grow up in the same neighborhood, about 10-12 houses apart. My dad was the paper boy, but they didn't really pay attention to one another until high school.

My parents dated for a few months, perhaps a year, and were married on July 10, 1971. My mom had just graduated from high school, and my dad was 19 and working at a gas and service station.
So began their early life together, hiding out my mom's mother from an abusive relationship, helping my dad's brother build his house, helping my dad's parents move to Colorado (after they had divorced and re-married), all the while trying to break out on their own.
After nine years of struggling, and trying to make ends meet, my brother came along. It was a long awaited joy to have them enter their lives. He was, as I am told, the perfect baby... calm, patient, quiet, you get the point. During the time leading up to his birth, my dad had a lot of odd jobs. As you already know, he worked at the service station, Keith's Citgo, and he drove a hearse for funeral home, and worked for the airport maintenance crew. My mom has always been the driving force for our family, pushing everyone to do more than we all thought possible, and she encouraged my Dad to go forward with his dreams.

While Dad worked at the airport he had an idea that has since grown by leaps and bounds. His idea:
Instead of paying outside police, fire and rescue personnel to help out in case of an emergency, make and maintain your own police, fire, and rescue programs.

Mom pushed Dad to present the idea, and when he did they approved, and sent Dad to Police Academy. He passed, 2nd or 3rd in his class, and thus the police force at our airport began. I was born the dad Dad graduated from Police Academy in 1982. My mom tried to convince the mid-wife that she could make the 3 hour trip to Indy with no problems!

The Fire Department came quickly after, and every Fire and Police Men was trained as a first responder. Dad quickly went up in the ranks at the airport, becoming first the chief of police, then of police and fire, and finally of police, fire, and maintenance.

During all these years, Dad remained committed to us at home. No matter what work he had to do, he came home for dinner every night, even if it meant he had to go back to work, and he never missed a recital or sports program.

My Dad retired from this job due to stress in 1998, and then began driving a semi for a food service corporation. He enjoyed the job, just him, a truck and a bunch of food all day! (He didn't really get to eat it...)

My parents world came crashing down the month before I married M in 2003, when Dad had a heart attack. Dad ended up having 4 bypasses that week, but as always, he did what he always did, and walked me down the aisle a month later, even though it hurt, and made him exhausted. He rallied, lost weight and got healthy. It was an amazing transformation, and no one could believe that dad, could give up cheeseburgers and milkshakes!

When asked what made him do it all, he had 2 answers:
1.) Your mother (meaning my mom)
2.) Grandkids.

He didn't have grandkids at the time, but he wanted to be around to play and be "Papa"

Things worked well for a few years, and a couple grandkids (ages 2 -- almost 3, 22 months, and 1) have come along since then, but in Dec. 2006, things took a turn for the worse, and here we are.

Who knew a stomachache could turn into liver cancer?

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