Hug your Father today, tell him you love him

Chef Brian Michael Patrick | Contributor

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17

JUNE, 2018

The first fond memory of my father was when he would get ready to go to work in the morning (The smell of fresh brewed coffee). I must have been 3 or 4 years old. My 2 sisters and I would hold onto his feet begging him not to leave, as he would drag us to the door (lots of laughter). I remember he had a lunch pail and a thermos with his name ‘Gerald’ painted on it.

He was a tool and dye machine operator, former military serviceman, staunch Christian, and a wonderful husband to my mother. However, there’s something impossibly far-reaching about this man! It’s very simple. He was my DAD! We had a special bond because we were both left-handed. Dad taught me how to tie my shoes, throw a ball, and how to ALMOST hold a pencil properly.

Thank you DAD for all the times you let me ride on the back of your wheelchair when I was getting too big to be on there.

It was around October of 1977 when tragedy struck, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Confined to a wheelchair, dad wouldn’t be able to drag us to the door or return to work ever again. With adversity looking him in the face for not being able to walk, coupled with the pain he dealt with daily, it never stopped him from being a mentor, disciplinarian, teacher, comforter, and an all-around great father. As you can imagine, our bond wasn’t a traditional one. He didn’t make it to most of our outdoor summer outings. He wasn’t seen at many plays or sporting events. Back then, handicap accessibility wasn’t common in most public places.

With adversity looking him in the face for not being able to walk, coupled with the pain he dealt with daily, it never stopped him from being a mentor, disciplinarian, teacher, comforter, and an all-around great father.

Consequently, father stayed home most of the time. Confined to the front porch or yard, dad would tinker around with objects that needed fixing. Our permanent bond, I eventually learned, was living by his example knowing that something as tragic as a chronic disease shouldn’t conquer a person as life may indeed (as it did in this case) deal a person a bad hand. Dad and I learned through faith, kindness, and patience (maybe a bit of bluffing) a person’s misfortune can make him stronger. My father passed away Valentine’s Day 2012. I got the call right before dinner service. He had been suffering for the last two years of his life; I was at peace with his passing knowing he was no longer in pain.

If he were here today, I would like to thank him by saying . . .

  • Thanks DAD for how you handled the rough patches in your life, as you turned towards the love of your family, when you could have just as easily shut down and us out. Tough men and women are resilient. You were most certainly resilient
  • Thank you, DAD for stopping old habits that weren’t serving you (like smoking) in favor of being a better role model.
  • Thank you DAD for all the times you let me ride on the back of your wheelchair when I was getting too big to be on there.
  • I especially want to thank you for having and resolving disagreements with my mother in front of me as a child, so I could grow up to know that conflict in relationships is not only inevitable but something to be embraced and seen as an opportunity to further grow together.

Love ya, Old Man!!!!!

P.S. Hug your Father today, tell him you love him.

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