Today, we could see that the cumulative effects of my Dad's treatments are getting stronger. When we arrived at the hospital this morning, he was sound asleep. Typically, he has been awake and ready for us to get there to help him pass the time. For much of today, he has drifted in and out of sleep. His nausea was accompanied by some vomitting today (but the nurse said that it was minimal). I am typing this from the hospital room where he is currently receiving his 10th dose of the treatment. He still has his fighting spirit and remains determined to complete his treatments so that he can beat the cancer and get on enjoying life.
Since first getting my Dad's phone call a few weeks ago when he told me about the cancer, a number of thoughts and feelings have surfaced in me. Tears give way to denial, which is followed by reminiscence, gratitude, what ifs, and a whole lot of hope for healing.
Part of the mix of this experience has been the joy of remembering some of the great times my Dad and I have spent together over the years. So for today's Thursday Thirteen, I'm going to write about Thirteen Father/Daughter Moments I Have Shared with my Dad. :)
Career Day - In third grade, my teacher told us students that we could invite our parents to come talk to the class about their careers. Before I was born, my Dad was a real, live rodeo cowboy. He was a bull rider. I came home and asked my Dad (who was at that time an insurance salesman, but always a cowboy at heart) to come talk to the class about being a cowboy. He really came through for me. He showed up at my elementary school decked out in his Wrangler jeans, boots, and cowboy hat with props--a western saddle and a lariet. I can remember my sister and I gleefully running around our backyard as kids laughing and howling as our Dad would rope us! So funny!
Hunting and fishing together - Some of my earliest memories are of going dove and deer hunting with my Dad. I would quietly accompany Dad on his hunts, enjoying nature and learning about hunting. It wasn't long before I was begging him to let me try! I killed my first deer in junior high school, and shot my first buck two and a half years ago. I'm thankful that Dad didn't shy away from sharing his passions of hunting and fishing with me because I am a female. Most of my girlfriends can't even comprehend such an experience. Thanks, Dad!
Catfish - I remember one particular fishing trip with Dad, just the two of us. I really wanted to catch a catfish, and I think I caught two or three. Dad was so proud of me, and he was keeping them in a net in the water to keep them fresh. Somehow, they got out of the net and swam freely away. At the time, we were both disappointed that they got away. Now, I don't even care. I'm just glad we could share that time together. I still love fishing, and you taught me how, Dad!
Coca-cola Cowboy - Going hunting together involved long road trips out to the country, listening to country songs like "I'm Just a Coca-Cola Cowboy" playing on the radio. I told Dad recently that when I get married, that's the song I want us to have our father/daughter dance to.
Cardinals Jacket - One of my favorite childhood sports was softball. One year, my little league team was the Cardinals. Dad told me that if I scored a homer, he would buy me a red satin Cardinals jacket. Well, you know I was itching for that homer, and I got it. I was so proud of that jacket!
Scott Casey- As I mentioned in this post, I used to love watching the World Wrestling Federation on television. For Christmas, when I was in the sixth grade, my Dad took me to a WWF match when it came through our hometown. The wrestler I was most excited to see (probably because he was one of the "good guys" and I thought he was dreamy) was "The Cowboy" Scott Casey. Dad knew he was my favorite, so after the match, he took me to try to meet him and get his autograph. His bodyguard wouldn't let us through. Well, Dad gave him our program with our address written on it, and he asked the bodyguard to see if "The Cowboy" would sign it and send it to me. Wouldn't you know that the very next morning our doorbell rang and the body guard hand delivered the signed program to our house? I was blown away. Dad has moxy when it comes to approaching stars for autographs. He also managed to get me tennis great Virginia Wade's autograph, oh, and also President Ford's. I'm not kidding.
Softball bat - I remember picking out my aluminum bat and having batting practice in the backyard with Dad.
Utah - When I graduated from acting school, I got my first professional job doing a musical called How the West was Won at a gorgeous amphitheatre in Utah. Dad came out to see me perform. It meant so much that he made the trip out to see me. I remember taking a day trip to Zion National Park. It was a crisp autumn day and the leaves were turning. We both enjoyed taking in the beauty of nature. And I remember both of us remarking that autumn is our favorite season. Just a simple moment that is fond to me.
Las Vegas - About six years ago, Dad took my sister and I on a father/daughter trip to Vegas. We went to see the Cirque du Soleil and the Blue Man Group perform. We gambled on the Wheel of Fortune. He bought my sister and I matching neclaces to remember our trip. And I know all of us will always remember our breakfast of Belgian waffles with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Dad had the room next door to my sister and I. He ordered us room service for breakfast and we all ate our waffles around the table in our bathrobes. A total splurge that was worth its weight in gold, if only for the wonderful memory!
Teaching me to two-step - Growing up in Texas, it's practically part of our culture to know how to do the Texas Two-Step. Dad taught me at an early age at the Texas Tumbleweed, a local restaurant/bar/dancehall in our city. I still love dancing to this day, and I think part of the reason why I'm not afraid to take a spin around the dancefloor is because I learned the magic of dancing with my Dad as a little girl. It started before that, when I was small and I would stand on his feet and we would dance around the kitchen floor together.
Surprise confidant - In 1998, I was living in NYC. I had fallen in love for the first time and subsequently was experiencing my first heartbreak. I was in agony. I cried everyday for a month for hours on end until there simply were no tears left. One day during that awful month, I called my Dad to wish him a happy Father's Day. I was trying hard to hold myself together during the phone call. But after my well-wishes, Dad asked me how I was doing. Well, the flood gates opened and I couldn't hold it in. I cried my eyes out and told my Dad about my heartache. He was so wonderful. He told me about his first heartbreak, and assured me that I was not the first person in the world to feel such wretched emotions. I felt so grateful for his kind words and happily surprised to find that my Dad could also be my confidant.
Lunch together - Seven months ago, I moved to LA. Mom and sis drove out with me to help me get settled in my new digs. On our way out, we drove right through the town where my Dad works. Of course, we stopped so that I could see Dad and give him a hug goodbye as I headed West. My parents haven't been together since my senior year in high school. That was the last time my immediate family had been together alone. In the days leading up to the road trip out to LA, I had a very strong pull on my heart for all four of us to have lunch together. I talked to both parents about it and both agreed to it. It was an amazing feeling of strength to be together again. My family. Mom, Dad, sister and me, sitting around the table sharing a meal. It was one of those moments I wished I could freeze in time. I have a photo that the waiter took of us that I keep on my desk at work. I take great joy in showing it to people and saying, "This is my family." Family. My family. Ahhh.
Future memories - I hope that my Dad and I will be able to make many more memories in the future. He is one of my heroes and I love him so much.
I love you, Dad!