Another Father’s Day has come and gone. Another Hallmark holiday for the books. As nice as it is to have a day to recognize Dads, we should also think about the Dads who are with us only in spirit.
There must be millions of Americans without their fathers due to cancer. My daughter was almost one of them (she was one when I was diagnosed, three when I got the second opinion that I was terminally ill). A friend of mine has two young daughters, and he may, or may not, be in remission. My brother, father of three sons, died in 2006, at the age of 46. He was about my current age when he was diagnosed and treated for multiple myeloma.
What kept me fighting was not only my inbred desire to keep living, but the knowledge that my daughter needed a father. If there was a treatment of procedure that was going to keep my going, I was going to go for it. Kids learn by what you do, not by what you say. If cancer was going to kill me, I wasn’t going to go quietly, I was going to go down swinging. I wanted to teach her never to give up. Thankfully, luckily, not giving up saved my life. My treatment appears to have worked. I’ve been in remission for seven years.
Treatment didn’t cure my brother. Bart died about two and a half years after his diagnosis. He kept as active, and part of his sons’ lives, as he possibly could. What it’s like to see your once active, healthy father slowly lose his strength, and physical capacity, and die, is something I don’t want to think about.
I’m not having a picture postcard Father’s Day. We’re not going out to dinner. I’m not getting a tie as a present (I got a bike, which is about a million times more cool than a tie). My 11 year old daughter will be spending most of the day with a friend. I went to church, will be doing laundry and watching sports (the Phillies and maybe some soccer), part of the usual Sunday routine.
I’m just enjoying the fact I’m alive today, relatively functional and healthy (I biked 54 miles yesterday). My daughter is happy (most of the time), healthy, well adjusted, caring and loving. My wife has stuck with me through the worst of times, and I love her very much. I really don’t need any presents or a dinner out. I’m really just happy to be here.