My father is one of the greatest people I have ever met. I have almost no memories of him before I turned 8 though. He was in the U.S. working, while my siblings and I were in Poland with our mother. I do remember him sending gorgeous postcards to me. It blows me away that at he would think so much of a three and four year old to send me postcards on a regular basis.
There are pictures somewhere, of a little girl in a polka-dotted dress and a man with a mustache. The man looks thrilled, the girl does not. Sometimes I wish I could go back and tell that little girl "Cherish the time you have with this wonderful man. One day, you are going to be many, many miles apart and he will get sick."
When I was the stressed Mom of a 3-year old with a stomach bug, who had found out that she wasn't going to get paid on payday, and therefore wouldn't make her rent or even buy toilet paper, I went to my Dad's house to cry my eyes out. He swept Ella up and entertained her until she fell asleep. He and I had a long talk about how hard it is to be the only one working in a household (this is before God changed my husband and made him the wonderful provider he is today). I never mentioned the rent. Or the toilet paper. I drank a peach Snapple and ate a few pretzels, then loaded Ella up in the stroller and went to head home.
My father gave me a grocery bag with dinner leftovers and a big hug. He offered to take us home, but I said I needed the walk. I cried the whole way home, while Ella slept in her stroller. When I arrived at my house, my then-boss was waiting for me with my pay. Whew. I paid my rent and unloaded the bag my father had given me. Besides the foil-wrapped plate and another Snapple, there was a four-pack of Angel Soft. I laughed for a good five minutes. How did he know? I had never mentioned it. Still laughing, I felt something shifting in my coat pocket. I reached in, and pulled out the amount I would have needed to cover my rent...and a hundred dollars extra. My father doesn't have money just laying around, so I called him right away to tell him that I didn't need it.
He laughed and said "I have no idea what you are talking about. That's found money. Go enjoy yourself." So I did.
When faced with his cancer diagnosis, my father showed bravery like I had never seen before. When I call and get upset, he is the one to reassure me. He is my picture of self-sacrifice and selflessness. He tells me lame jokes just to make me laugh. When my older sister told me I was "plain", he told me "you are beautiful in ways she can't understand."
Being 700 miles away, my heart breaks that I can't see him right now. We are slowly, ever so slowly, taking steps to move home permanently.
God gave me the most wonderful father. I hope I can make him proud one day.