June 19, 2005
Daddy's girl
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My Dad will be 73 this year. He is starting to show his age a lot more these past couple years, but he still has that sharp, somewhat sarcastic wit that I seem to have inherited.

Unfortunately, a few of my brothers don't see him in the same light I do. This has hurt him immeasurably and I used to wish that they would eventually change as they grew up. It hasn't happened. In my Dad's dark days, he says he only has 3 sons (he has 4). Ironically, though, that one son who has so blatantly ridiculed and criticized my father has now become his spitting image.

My Dad's a quiet guy. He always has been, but it became more so after he developed throat cancer in 1974. Found in a routine medical exam, he was found to have had a tumour growing in his throat so large that it had threatened to cut off the oxygen and would have killed him. He had no symptoms, and it was only absolute luck that a doctor was quick enough to catch it. The operation was a major one, and he was left profoundly deaf in one ear. On top of that, he also had a large depression on the side of his neck, and a scar approximately 10" long. Medical oncology being what it was at that time, he was treated with cobalt radiation. While I don't remember a lot of the treatment, I do remember his black charred face a result of the exposure to the cobalt. Cobalt's no longer used...and for good reason.

He survived, which is a pretty incredible miracle given the size of the tumour. But he was no longer the same. Embarrassed by his scar and his lack of hearing, he withdrew. He also had a side effect that whenever he ate, his sweat glands would water and he would drip off the side of his face. Being the little girl I was, I didn't think this was a big deal at all. Don't all Dad's faces leak? Doesn't every child have to stand on the right side of their Dad and wait until he looked at you directly before you speak? I never had any idea that these things were cause for shame and it was only years later that I found out the reason he wouldn't go to movies, or out anywhere.

For me, it was my normal childhood, but for my brothers, they resented a father who wanted only to read and be by himself. What happened to the guy who'd play ball with them? The older ones eventually came to accept the change, but my youngest brother never did.

I'm a pretty introverted person by nature too, so this always worked for me. And when a few years later, my Dad became bedridden by a back injury, I was in my glory. Every day I would rush home from school so we could play 'Battleship' or 'Monopoly'. I was so sad when he was eventually recovered enough to return to work.

Life has continued. He has a lot of health problems now, compounded probably by his 60-plus years of smoking. I don't hassle him on that...he's a smart man - he doesn't need me to bother him. He's also lost hearing in his other ear, likely from overcompensating for so long and is now almost completely deaf. However, lately, it's been mostly about melanoma. Every few months something more is cut off him. A year ago, it was his upper lip. He now has the 'Mark of Zorro' in the space below his nose and the top of his mouth. He must now wear a hat whenever he's out. It was something he wasn't too impressed with, and makes a face every time my Mom harasses him into wearing it.

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He's now the last living elder male in our family. It scares me that he seems to be expecting his end these days. I hate that, and I wish he would be more positive. But all his family is gone, and all the brother-in-law's on my Mom's side. His friends have gone too.

Today, on Dad's Day, I'll be spending most of the day with him and my Mom. Then we'll be having dinner at my brothers. His gift from me? A laser level. He gets very frustrated these days that he can't do what he used to, but I intend to keep him thinking he can.

He'll be a little embarrassed by the attention today, but I know deep down he'll be thrilled.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.

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Turning thirty and a half
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