He saw me enter the world through the hospital room window. After much false labour, it only took a couple of hours of “real” labour for me to make my appearance. He almost missed it. Too busy in the smoke room or playing cards with my uncle I guess. I’m told he did hear the roars of a woman down the hall, wondered if it was my Mom, but assumed it couldn’t be. He was wrong.
It wasn’t long after Mom and I came home that Mom had to return to the hospital. She was very ill. Kidney failure. Lots of hours away from home ensued. Not only did he have to regularly drive over an hour a day to see his wife sick, but he was all of sudden in charge of newborn, and still had to put in his hours at the office he had called his second home since he was 16 years of age.
Once Mom came home, she was really weak and couldn’t take care of me on her own. Dad quickly learned about diapers and bottle feedings and developed his own soothing tricks. Though, don’t ask him to tell you any of them… he doesn’t remember. He does remember waking up in the middle of the night, sitting in a rocking chair, with me in his arms, and freaking out at the thought that he could have dropped me. He never did. (That I know of…)
My Dad was always strongly present, but definitely on the sidelines throughout the rest of my childhood. I had an extremely strong relationship with my Mom (with only the slight “fuck off!” yelled at her when I was 16 to tarnish our near-perfect record.) I always knew I could trust him and go to him about anything, though I rarely had to because I suspected my Mom told him everything already. I wouldn’t have known just how vital Dad was to my upbringing when I was a baby if it wasn’t for my Mom. I think, deep down, she might have felt oddly guilty about missing out on some of the early baby craziness, but she never hesitated to sing Dad’s praises. I also would never have known that Dad cried every time he watched me perform in Crazy for You when I was 18 if Mom hadn’t told me.
And when my life took a turn for the worse, he was my white knight, taking my girls and me to safely. Now he continues to make us feel safe, and cared for, and loved.
It’s cliché, but my Dad is the best Dad ever.