My dad has cancer, stage four renal cancer to be exact, diagnosed almost exactly three years ago. So far he's been doing well, responding to his treatment regiment, but it's still stage four, and the odds of beating it are...well, they don't really give you odds. But my dad, he's a fighter. Currently he's lying in a cold hospital bed somewhere in the medical center in Augusta, GA. He has a bacterial infection called C-diff. I hear it's pretty serious. If I know my dad, he'd rather be out shooting at quail or fly-fishing in a far off stream. But even if he couldn't do those things, I know he'd rather be writing.
The thought occured to me today that I should have sent him flowers. That's what you do, right? When someone is in the hospital you send them flowers. But he'll probably go home tomorrow, so I guess it's too little too late. I could still send flowers to his house, and he would probably appreciate the gesture, but I think he's more like me (or I'm more like him). I don't really get flowers. It's nice to have them, but they don't last. Even when I was in the hospital after my C-section with Owen, I loved seeing them fill the room. Nothing like the beauty of blooming roses to brighten up a bland cement hospital room. But still, shortly after our arrival home, they began to wilt until it was clear their was no more life in them. Then they found their way to the trash can. It was then that I realized it wasn't so much the flowers that brightened my room, or my mood, but the people who brought them, and the sentiments behind them. It was the idea that someone out there was thinking about me.
In lieu of sending flowers, I would like to dedicate this blog to my dad, David Crawford Foster. Dad, if you're reading this, I want you to know that I am thinking about you, and I'm praying for you. Though my written word might not be as eloquent and sustaining as yours, I thought I'd give it a shot. At least it will give you something to proofread while lying in your bed.
My dad is an amazing writer. He has a way with words that I couldn't even begin to mimic. He's real, authentic...at least he wants everyone to believe he is, and boy can he fool you with his no B.S. attitude on life. It takes a strong man to look his cancer straight in the eye and tell it where it can go. He's chronicled every minute. It started as an email to family and friends. He called us his wellness group. And somewhere along the line he was asked to turn his journey into a blog. You know why? Because people were inspired. One person would forward his emails to another and then another. To some it became like their crack rock, needing their next fix. To me it was a way to keep up with my dad. He's never been much for phone calls, so if I want to know what's happening on a regular basis, I had to read the emails. But for others, people that were battling cancer themselves, my dad's words provided inspiration and hope. Once he started blogging his following began to grow. I read the comments and sometimes I can't hold back the tears. From those just diagnosed expressing their heartfelt gratitude for his encouraging words to wives who've recently lost their husbands that find the strength to move on from a man struggling to make it one more year. I applaud his courage, his strength, his candidness.
A good friend of mine from college just lost his dad to cancer. I don't get to see Pat that often, but my heart broke at the news. In a way, I know he felt a bit of relief...relief that his dad no longer suffers, but I also know that death is death. Death is separation. I remember where I was when my dad told me he had renal cancer. It was March 17, 2005, and I had just found out that I was having a boy. The phone rang as I rounded the aisle at Babies R Us picking out a myriad of baby toys I didn't even know if I would need. Can you imagine getting that news while preparing for a new life? I could barely walk. Of course I didn't let on to my dad, but I was scared. One of the first things I thought about was peace. I'm a Christian, so I believe that the only true peace comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. My prayer from that day on was that my dad would find peace. Of course I want him to be healed physically, but am I selfish for wanting him to be healed spiritually, so I can spend eternity hanging out with him in heaven? I don't know what he believes about what happens next. I'm not sure I've ever been brave enough to ask. We've spoken of it on a few occasions, but mostly I felt inadequate and illprepared. What do you say to the man who knows everything? Okay, maybe not everything, but definitely more than me. He intimidates me, not on purpose, but it's true none the less.
I am a lot like my dad. He took me on my first backpacking trip and taught me how to fish. It's because of him that I chose the major that I did, Outdoor Education. I love history, not the useless info you learn in school, but the individual stories behind the useless history you learn in school. My dad could take you down a street in almost any city and tell you it's story. It's captivating. My dad uses knowledge and humor as a defense mechanism, as do I, and I'm pretty good at it too (unless you ask my husband). And somehow I developed a love for putting words down on paper. I'm not saying I'm good at it, but I do love it. It's freeing for me, a release, as I'm sure it is for my dad. I can only hope if I ever face such a nasty roadblock in life as he has that I will take it head on and kick it in the *beep*.
Dad, I know words don't equal the beauty of something tangible like a vase of roses or my very presence, but I hope you enjoy this moment dedicated entirely to you. Now go get better and stop wasting your precious energy trying to critique the many gramatical errors in this piece. I love you! Hillary
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