|My Father. Gary Gordon.|
One year ago today, my father was undergoing open heart surgery. Having never in my life witnessed my father take so much as a sick day, I cannot describe to you, Dear Reader, how this scared the supreme, peewaddling crap right out of me.
Okay... truth time. I wasn't really REALLY scared. Mainly because the idea of my father, my cantankerous old fart of a father, actually being a mere mortal was so absolutely unfathomable to me that I never gave much thought to what could happen. I just assured myself that nothing bad would happen. And that was that.
Of course, my father didn't go the normal path to open heart surgery. Noooooo. He knew he'd had an under-functioning gall bladder and when he started having chest pains he thought it was related to that. But finally, when the pains weren't going away, he went to his internist to get it checked.
Now, a lot of doctors would have looked at my dad, how healthy and active he was, his blood pressure, and all those other things and, knowing his gall bladder was failing, just passed it off as that. We are very VERY lucky that he has an incredibly conscientious and thorough doctor who dug deeper. And when he did, didn't like what he saw. And made arrangements for my dad to go to the cardiac hospital IMMEDIATELY.
Of course, my dad being my dad, was asking, "Can I go to the grocery store? Can I mow the lawn? Can I... wash the car... trim the trees... pour new cement... re-shingle the house???"
Yeah. It's hard to keep a good man down. Less than a week before he was rushed to the cardiac hospital he was out in the State Park taking my children on a 4 MILE HIKE!!! In the middle of the freakin' sand dunes.
When I think of what could have happened out there in the middle of nowhere, with only an eight and a ten year old for help, I absolutely shudder.
Because my dad's cardiac arteries were clogged. And not just a little clogged. 99-100% clogged. They were so backed up that one artery created its own pathway around the blockage -- something that most people would find excruciatingly painful. But noooo. Not my dad. He just complained of "mild chest pains."
I am, in every conceivable way, my father's daughter. From his anti-social tendencies, to his bluntness, to his unwillingness to soft sell anything -- those are all my traits too.
I haven't always gotten along with my Dad, mainly because we are two peas in a pod. But I have always loved him, admired him, and respected him. He's part of the reason (but certainly not all) that my relationships don't work out so well -- no regular man can match up to who and what my dad is.
My dad's 72nd birthday is next week. And with Father's Day right around the corner, I thought I would write a little ode to Dad and share a few of my favorite highlights about my father, much the same way I did with my mother.
I love you, you old coot.
Being a "tween" is an awful thing. You're not quite a teenager, not quite a child, and firmly stuck between both. I was no different from any other prepubescent girl as evidenced at Christmas when I was twelve years old.
Several days before Christmas a huge box appeared under our tree. As in most things, size matters, and that enormous gift drove me crazy. Who was it for? What could it be? I asked and asked and asked -- to no avail.
Christmas morning, the last present was distributed. The huge one. To me. I was shocked and surprised, I really never thought it would be mine and couldn't imagine what was inside.
I ripped open the paper, tore in to the box and discovered a very large teddy bear -- gold with brown ears.
At the ripe old age of twelve, I should have been too old and too cool to be excited about a teddy bear. Except, I wasn't. My father wasn't quite ready to let go of his "little" girl and apparently, I wasn't quite ready to grow up. I was so touched, I cried.
That teddy bear went everywhere with me for years. When I would drive home to visit my parents, he would be buckled in to the passenger seat riding shotgun. Years later, my apartment was broken in to a few weeks before Christmas. The thieves got a little bit of money, a few small pieces of jewelry, and took that bear. Made me cry all over again. I hope that thief took my bear home to his little girl that Christmas and she loved him as much as I did.
Thank you for my bear, Dad.
Having never been a very good math student, I tended to be a tad rambunctious in my high school algebra class, much to the dismay of my high school algebra teacher. About midway through my freshman year the teacher, being totally fed up, called my father to complain about my behavior in class, saying I was distracting and controlled the classroom.
My father, in typical Gordon fashion replied, "You know, as a 35-something year old man, I don't know if I'd be admitting that a 14 year old has more control over things than you do. I'd keep quiet about that if I were you."
And hung up.
Thank you for sticking up for me, Dad.
When I was a teenager, my dad used to LOVE to embarrass me by driving through the beach, "cruising through G-Park" as it's referred to here by the locals, where all my classmates and crushes would be hanging out. Mortifying in and of itself but, to up the ante, so to speak, my father would spot the kids he knew I knew and would honk the horn, reach over and grab my hand, and wave my arm at them.
Thank you for making me laugh (years and thousands of dollars in therapy later), Dad.
Thank you for my Zippo lighter with the engraving of Mickey Mouse flipping the bird, Dad.
When I was planning my wedding 13 years ago, I would ride the train in to the city and practice my thank you speech that I was going to give at our reception. For five months, I would get through almost the whole speech but would choke up when I would get to the part where I thanked my father. See, my dad and I are not what you call demonstrative people and we're not much for talking about our feelings. I love my father, he loves me, but we really don't need to talk about it.
On my big day, it was time for the thank you speech and wouldn't you know it, I got to the part about my dad and started tearing up. The only way I could keep from becoming a blubbering mess was to immediately move on and make fun of my brother about actually showing up... in a tux.
Thank you for being a man worth tearing up for, Dad.
All my life, on the rare occasions that my dad would call me, he would announce himself by saying, "Yeah, Andrea? This is your father. Gary Gordon." For years, whenever he called, that's what he would say. It always struck me as hilarious, but I didn't, not for years, say anything to him about it. I would just wait to see if he greeted me the same way next time he called. Which, sure enough, he did.
Finally, it got to be too much and I responded with, "As opposed to my father, Mick Jagger?"
I'm not sure my dad even knows who Mick Jagger is. So I explained how it was funny that he always made sure to tell me it was my father calling. And then say his whole name. Like I couldn't figure out who he meant if he just said it was Dad. He laughed a bit, not completely understanding why I thought the whole thing was funny.
And next time he called? "Yeah, Andrea? This is your father. Gary Gordon."
Thank you for being my father. Gary Gordon. I couldn't imagine any man better for the job.