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For those who read my blog and follow it
you know the complicated feelings I have surrounding my dad.
My dad… who has been very ill now for over three weeks.
Actually he has been ill for over 5 years doing the dance of ups and downs with good health and not.
His lungs are not working well with a diagnoses of chronic copd.
He has leukemia and diabetes and his heart is not working well either.
This last round was very hard on his heart.
Entering the hospital with a blood pressure of 218/84 and a respiratory reading at 62 it was not good. He was very close to dying.
The doctors were not sure what was wrong but they knew he had double pneumonia, and with copd that is almost like drowning. Dad was extremely ill and spent 5 days in ICU then another 5 days in a room with part of that time spent in a cardiac room.
He is 84 years old.
He has lived a very long life working on ranches, in rodeos, sheep shearing and working as the best auctioneer in the county and one of the top sheep shearers too.
He is a cowboy by nature.
I am not sure if he has ridden a horse I suppose in his younger years he did.
I remember as a little girl seeing him brand cows as the cow dogs would work right along side him.
It scared me for the cows were not enjoying the process and the dirt and the smell was often overwhelming to me.
I was under five and still remember the sounds of the yelling and ‘chaos’ corralling the cows into the shoots.
My dad is a rough and tough,”I will do it myself man.”
As we age sometimes the reality that one cannot do that anymore is a hard thing to grasp.
Oxygen is now his companion… nurses come and go and check on levels in his blood and his air.
He is not happy with all the fussing or the process of trying to keep him stable.
I have a picture of him on my refrigerator with a flannel shirt and a red knitted hat along with red suspenders.
We call it our,”Papa Smurf ” picture.
For years I never knew him.
He was an image in my mind, a figure I imagined and wondered about but never knew personally.
When we did finally meet I was in my early 30’s.
He was a shadow of me or was I a shadow of him?
I told him he had to earn the right to be my dad.
Later I received a few hand written letters from him.
I will treasure them always.
They are stored in boxes of memories so far removed from my here and now life.
I will walk down that road someday and allow myself to feel and read the words scratched out on lined paper. His writing personal to me. His words etched in my memory, “you know I am not one for showing emotion.”  Perhaps that is where I learned to shut my own off.
He never saw my high school graduation or walked me down the aisle as a new bride, or held my first born son or later my daughter.
He was ‘absent’ for years.
My heart was full of questions that had no answers.
As a daughter you always want your ‘daddies’ love. As a daughter you always want to know, “do I matter to you?”
My grandma ‘his mom’ came to stay with our family one time when she was in her late 70’s or early 80’s. My children didn’t know who she was but they loved the fact that she was a spunky lady with a will as strong as a steel hammer. She would walk that country road as fast as my young ones any day.
Dad has the same resilience, the same bounce that always brings him back.
It’s a fight that doesn’t want the last battle to win.
I will not ever be ready for that phone call that tells me…
the battle is over he is gone and no longer with us.
My dad is hanging on by sheer will and determination.
The body is not as strong as it used to be and he is tired.
I pray for more time with him but I also know only
God knows how many days each of us have here.
When the phone rings I pray my heart will be ready to hear the news I don’t want to hear.
The years we missed will never be recovered.
Time cannot bring back lost days or lost memories.
What matters now are the words,
“I care for and love you.”
“I am praying for you.”
“I won’t blame you or judge you.”
“I will miss you always.”