My Father died 13 years ago of lung cancer.
He was a smoker.
I nagged him to stop.
He resented my nagging.
He was also one of those "Macho" guys with a wall around him to keep others at a certain distance.
Sara Jean and I worked on that for years, and by the end of his life had moved that wall considerably.
My sister always claimed the two of us had been raised by completely different parents...
Almost six years my junior, she was right.
From my viewpoint she was always "Daddy's girl" and was a consistent source of friction between me and Dad.
In the worst argument we ever had, when I was sixteen, Dad and I were face-to-face and he drew back and made a fist.
Almost a grown man by this time I cautioned him...
"Dad, I'm not sure you want to do that. You may whup me now, but soon you won't be able to!"
He relaxed his fist. We talked.
And the resolution to the problem was to put a lock on my bedroom door to keep my room from being trashed.
From this narrative you can discern that my Dad and I DID NOT have a perfect relationship.
But I loved him. He loved me. There was never any question of that.
Our relationship grew closer as we both aged.
I was always proud of him...
He could do most anything he set his mind to... expertly.
I know he was proud of my accomplishments. As a matter of fact, I often wonder if my success at some of the things he had always dreamed of was part of the friction between us.
After all the nagging about smoking, I was angry about his lung cancer diagnosis.
Truly, I'm not sure he could have avoided lung CA... he had smoked SO many years.
Watching him weaken and slowly fade, my sister and I coordinated our efforts to care for Dad, (and by doing so, take much of the burden off Mom's shoulders).
We all worked as a team.
How many young boys don't have a male figure in their lives, providing support, and at least showing that men, just by "bringing home the bacon", show a willingness to bear a responsibility to their families?
My Dad wasn't perfect. But even through his mistakes I learned things I used to make my relationship with my own son better.
Dad, I'm thankful that during those last weeks of your life you knew we were there to make your exit from this life as comfortable as possible.
I'm grateful that you were able to let us know you appreciated our efforts.
I think of you every day. I miss being able to share stuff about our mutual interests in flying, nature, and mechanics.
And I will ALWAYS be thankful our last years were not like those we shared together under one roof.
God be with you 'til we meet again.