A couple of weekends ago my daughters were flower girls in a wedding. They were beautiful in their dresses. They were also perfectly behaved in the wedding. I sat in the front row of the church and silently whispered “don’tmakeascenedon’tmakeascenedon’tmakeascene” I was terrified one of their tempers would pop when something went wrong as they walked down the aisle putting flowers down and they would embarrass us and the bride and groom. (The bride apparently did not mind, she wanted them in wedding precisely hoping they would do something funny during the ceremony.) They were perfect. They did a perfect job and they were beautiful. We then went to the reception and they danced like fools the entire night having the time of their lives. It was the perfect weekend, except that my father was in the hospital.
Walking out of the wedding rehearsal, I got a call that my father was in the emergency room. He was having complications from a relatively simple outpatient surgery. I spent the weekend driving back and forth from the hospital to the wedding. It’s a terrifying thing to see your father in a weakened state the first time, but gradually, gradually his strength returned and he went home a couple days after the weekend. I was very conflicted during the weekend. I felt guilty having a good time at the reception, but there wasn’t much I could do and the doctors were doing their job.
One thing I’ve learned this past year is how many guys don’t have good relationships with their fathers. I guess I’ve always taken our easy-going interactions for granted. Dad and I have totally different likes. He’s a master of wood-working and I couldn’t carve something to save my life. I’m a big sports fan and he cares a little bit about Georgia Tech (also his Alma Mater) but is generally indifferent to sports. Nonetheless, I’m fascinated when he shows me around the garage displaying every amazing figurine, plaque, and other carvings and he humors me by sometimes going to games with me and listening to me carry on about players and strategies. When I visited him in the hospital he was pretty lucid each time, but we didn’t talk about anything too deep. On Friday night he told me to make sure my father-in-law ate plenty of cake and drank plenty of beer at the wedding (done and done.) On Sunday, when he starting to feel more himself, we talked a lot about the girls. He told me he thought I was doing a great job of raising the girls and that meant the world to me. Guys never stop seeking affirmation from their fathers.
During the past year, my father, sister, and wife have all spent time in the emergency room. Thankfully none of the visits have been serious and I’m very thankful for medical staff who work so hard in a difficult job, but I’d be just fine with not seeing the inside of a hospital for a while. This weekend was been pretty representative of life lately, high highs and low lows.