My Dad has always loved being outdoors. Gardening, summer fishing, winter fishing, camping, or just sitting out in the back yard. He was raised on a farm, so maybe that’s where his love of the outdoors comes from. Some of my greatest memories are being out on my uncle’s farm when we would head out to help with harvest or just to hang out for the weekend out there. Other great memories come from camping. I also get my love of gardening from him.
For a few years now my Dad grumbled he wasn’t going to plant a garden because it was too much work and did I want to use his garden? Hell yes, I wanted to use that garden to plant veggies. I would phone him to ask what kind of seeds I should buy. None is always his reply. He saves them from the year before because they just don’t make ’em like they used to. So I would leave the seeds in the store. I’d phone him to let me know when I was going to head over to work the garden, use the rototiller. Don’t bother; its already done is always his reply. Ok. Then the next phone call is to let him know when I will be over to plant. Again…. already done. Hmmmm. Another phone call to let him know I was going to head over to his place on the weekend to weed. Guess what, yup… again. Done. Then he stops waiting for me to call and he calls to let me know the peas had been picked and were in the freezer. When did I want him to drop them off? So, tell me again how you don’t want to have a garden Dad because it’s too much work. And this happens not just for peas, but onions, garlic, carrots, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, etc.
My Dad, for as long as I can remember has had a tan on his face. The tan line goes from a line across his forehead, where his ball cap or toque sits, to the deep v at his neck line. That’s it. That’s the only place that he ever gets any sun. Mainly cause it doesn’t seem to matter if it is 30 above or 30 below; the man is in jeans and a long sleeve shirt. I honestly think there is maybe ONE memory I have of him in shorts. Just one memory.
My 15 year old has hounded Grampa from the day he learned how to fish to now about fishing. Which hooks should I use Grampa? Can we go this weekend Grampa? Did you see the new rod that Santa brought me Grampa? Mason quite frequently goes ‘shopping’ in Grampa’s tackle box for new hooks. Is the ice ready yet to go ice fishing Grampa? Hey Grampa, I saved my money and bought an ice fishing tent! Grampa, show me again how to fillet this fish. Grampa just smiles and shakes his head. Dad, you really have no idea just how much that boy is like you. I caught him looking out the window one day last winter, staring at the freshly fallen snow and your words came out his mouth… well, looks like I’d better get out there and shovel. And even at 15 years old, he still wants his Grampa to go fishing with him. But I have had to explain to him that Grampa is getting a little slower over the years. It’s a little more work to build up the energy to spending the day freezing on the lake.
I think I got my attitude from my Dad as well. The sarcasm is a dead giveaway, that I KNOW I got from him. But the attitude I’m talking about it, is the “here’s the issue, let’s deal with it and move on” attitude. So when the spot on his cheek needed to be checked out by a Dr, he dealt with it (with a little prodding from my Mom to actual go to the Dr). When word came back that it would need to be cut out and sent away for testing, he dealt with it. When the results came back and my Mom had to call cause Dad wasn’t sure what to say… well, that stopped me in my tracks.
That word can strike fear in many. More so when it hits close to home. You hear about research, others that have it, others that are dealing with it, but when it hits close to home… that word can be crippling.
So when Mom called, my first thought was Wait… what about the “here’s the issue, let’s deal with it and move on” attitude?? This is not like my Dad. This must not be good. I think it shook him to his core. I’m not really sure, he doesn’t talk about it much.
A couple of days after the news, I went over to my Mom and Dad’s place. I wasn’t going to bring it up. I would wait for him to say something and as we sat outside, just yapping, he did.
“I’m not quite sure how this happened” he said.
Well, let’s see Dad, could be the 70+ years you have stood outside in the sunshine, winter or summer without sunscreen on.
Ya, but I am always covered up he replied.
Everything but that tan line across your forehead to the deep V at your neck line. I think that may have something to do with it.
Huh… maybe was his reply.
So after a summer of waiting for test results, waiting for the Dr office’s to call back and appointments to be made, last Friday my Dad went in to have a large portion of his cheek cut out. Of course he made a joke about the reconstruction that may be needed. He found it quite funny that they might have to use a piece from his ass cheek to replace the area on his cheek they were going to cut out. I told him it would just be easier when he told people to kiss his ass (a statement he has taught my kids to say in Ukrainian, by the way). He laughed and said at least this way he wouldn’t have to drop his pants for someone to kiss his ass.
Yup, that’s my Dad.
Well, that was last week. This week, he had to have more cut out. A little closer to his eye. A little lower down towards his mouth. And deeper. That’s where he is right now. In the Dr office having this done. Mom called with the news. I am holding it together so far… maybe it’s the shock of it all.
I know one thing for sure; I am not ready for this. My Dad is not old. Well, not in my mind. He’s still the first one I call to ask a question about why the damn lawnmower isn’t working. He was the first one I called when I wanted to extend my deck. I told him, just come be the foreman, I’ll do all the work! But of course, I wasn’t cutting the boards right, so he HAD to help. He’s the first one I call when something goes wrong in my house. He is the maker of the perogies that my kids eat like no tomorrow. He is the one that brings the cabbage rolls to Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.
So Dad, get this Cancer shit cut out of your face. We know what the issue is, let’s deal with it and move on because you know that Mason will be asking if the ice is thick enough to go ice fishing soon.