-Life isn’t fair. It never will be. So quit trying to make it so. You don’t need it to be fair. Go make life unfair to your advantages.
I learned from a very early age that life is just not fair. At least that is how it has always felt to me. Today I am going to share some of my personal history, it is incredibly tough and scary for me as I am not used to being very open or feeling vulnerable. For whatever reason, I need to share this today, so here it goes.
I had a ridiculously happy childhood. I had parents who loved me and grandparents that loved me and were a part of my daily life. I remember fishing with my granddad and standing on a chair at the kitchen counter stirring batter for cake with my grandmother. My mom NEVER missed a single softball/soccer/basketball/volleyball game or a cheerleading or band event. My dad always pretended to not notice when I would “sneak” pepperoni slices from his pizza buffet at the small convenience store we owned up the street from our house. I LOVED sports and I was great at them. I made friends easily and had lots of them. My grandparents lived on a small farm and my granddad had hayfields and cows. I have fond memories of bottle feeding newborn calves, learning how to drive at 4 years old by “keeping the truck strait” so the crew could haul hay. My summers were spent on the softball field, hauling hay, fishing, cooking, and drinking homemade sweet tea and well water my grandmother made. My older brother was my best friend and as a child I wanted to be just like him. I was a tomboy (to the point of getting a “bowl cut”) and wanting to play football (which was the one thing my parents wouldn’t allow). We always had 2 birthday parties… 1 at my grandparents house after school on our actual birthday & a party on the weekend my parents threw. Thanksgiving and Christmas were always magical & I can still hear my granddad & cousins cheering on whatever sports team was on that day. I grew up loving The Bulls, Celtics, & Suns as well as the Dallas Cowboys. I knew how to drive a tractor by when I was 5 & how to back up a trailer by the time I was 10. Everyone knew my dad & granddad in our small hometown & I was proud to be Mike’s/Bumper’s (my dad’s nickname) daughter & Mr. Pete’s granddaughter. My granddad would bring newborn calves and baby bluebird boxes to my elementary school for my class to see and pet. My dad would let us stay up late to watch Star Trek and every Friday night we had homemade nachos and watched a movie together as a family. Far & Away and The Cutting Edge are still 2 of my favorite movies because of those nights.
And then my world came crashing down. When I say my dad was a gentle giant, that was an understatement.. My dad was 6’4 & weighed over 600lbs, but was healthy as a horse. I always felt so safe with him, he was my dad & I loved him more than anything. It was getting harder and harder for him to play with my brother and I. He would get winded being on his feet and working at the store every day. The turning point, as I remember it, was a “doughnuts for dad’s” event at my school and he was too ashamed of his weight to go with me. The next week there was a blood drive & if your parent gave blood then we got a prize.. He couldn’t give blood because of his weight, and I cried because I couldn’t “get my prize” never realizing, as most any child wouldn’t, how much it hurt him and how embarrassed it made him. A few weeks later, my parents sat my brother and I down and told us my dad would be having surgery to help him lose weight. It was gastric bypass or “stomach stapling” and it would help him be able to be happier and able to play with us again. I bawled my eyes out.. to me, there was nothing wrong with my dad & I was scared and had a bad feeling. I literally begged him not to do it, but he needed to for himself and for us. He wanted to be the best dad he could be to us, and needed to have this done so he could do that. He never wanted for us to be embarrassed by him & his weight.
He had surgery the day after thanksgiving in 1994. The surgery went well, he was home soon and walking up and down the street within a week or so. Then the blood clots hit. He any my mom made the 1 1/2 hour trip back to the hospital where he’d had his surgery, 2 days before Christmas. They put him on blood thinners but he had to stay at the hospital for several days to make sure everything was fine. My aunt drove us to the hospital on Christmas so we could spend it with them. It was the best Christmas of my life. I got a life size stuffed doll, I named her dolly, and my dad beamed when he saw how much I loved that doll. When it was time to leave, I tried to crawl into his lap but obviously couldn’t because of the surgery & his staples/stitches, so I gave him the biggest hug and kiss and told him I love him and that he was the best daddy in the world. He died 3 days later. December 28, 1994. After my parents got home, he was having a hard time catching his breath. My mom got him into the house and on the floor in front of the couch.. he died in her arms. The blood clot had broken off and gone to his lungs causing a massive pulmonary embolism. He was 42, I was 8, my brother was 13. We were staying with my ma’amaw (my mom’s mom) until they got home. I had a bad feeling & told my aunt that something was wrong. She told me not to worry, that mom & dad would be home soon. A few minutes later the phone rang. I busted into tears and begged God to not take my dad, for him to be ok. He wasn’t. We got to the hospital & everyone was there & crying. I didn’t understand.. he was my dad, he was invincible, and he was dead. They let us go in and see him. He just looked like he was sleeping, I will never forget that moment. My aunt and uncle decided to take my cousin & I to the movies that night to try to help and so my mom could have some time. We wanted to see Richie Rich, but it wasn’t out yet, so we saw Dumb & Dumber.. I hate that movie, and I haven’t been able to watch it since. I remember getting home and my granddad opening the door, picking me up and crying, and saying over and over how sorry he was. I kept telling him “it’s ok, i’m over it.. it’s fine” my aunt tried to explain to me that it was very insensitive of me to say those things.. I didn’t get it, I was 8.
We buried him on New Year’s Eve. The funeral home had to put speakers out in the lobby because it was so packed with people. I still hadn’t cried. As we made our way past the casket before they closed it, I noticed that they had his glasses in his shirt pocket. My dad always fell asleep after reading a book & he would raise his glasses up onto his forehead… they belonged on his forehead, not in his pocket. I tried to reach in to get them out of his pocket & my granddad stopped me. I broke down.. I sat down on the floor and the flood gates opened. My granddad picked me up and carried me out. My life would never be the same.
Emotional wreck right now.. to be continued –