My dad has cancer.
He was diagnosed with lung cancer at 74 hard years of age, following a 45-year career of cigarettes that he gave up in 1987, when he was ordained as deacon in my home church (“a deacon shouldn’t smoke, I suppose” Daddy said.). There was really no surprise in the diagnosis; but the journey following the declaration has been unavoidably tumultuous. As of this writing, Dad still feels pretty good and does mostly whatever he has the stamina to do; however, the docs say he only as a few months before the cancer takes him.
I have grieved and mourned for a year now, and there are times when I think so much about the end of Dad’s life, that I forget about all the years leading up to the end. And that idea has spawned a fresh sense of urgency in me to share my relationship with my Dad. It is probably a fairly typical tale of fathers and sons, thicker than water, and at the same time, oddly funny. And I find myself remembering events, odd and funny things that can only happen to a father and his son. And while I love my sisters and my mom (who died in 1996), it seems to me that the really funny or poignant memories revolve around my dad. Maybe I only remember it that way; maybe his impending death has my subconscious focused on my relationship with him; either way, I cherish my days with him, past and present.
As I write, I find myself at times laughing so that I can’t type; sometimes, wiping tears from the keyboard. And I find myself referring to my dad as both Dad and Daddy- sometimes one or the other seems to be more appropriate. I can’t tell why or which to use consistently, for he is both the more formal “Dad”, the one who reads his Bible and his Sunday School lesson every day and delivers Meals on Wheels and prayers at church, and the familiar “Daddy”, who reads the comics, enjoys action toys from Cracker Barrel, who yells at the University of Memphis Tigers and Atlanta Braves on television, and who reminds me has lived a full life and he is ready to go; that he is proud of his kids, of his grandkids. Of me. Pardon me while I get some Kleenex.