Today, I flew up to Seattle to visit my Dad who lives in Port Orchard (on an island across the sound from Seattle). My dad is sick and is going to have a heart valve replaced next week. My dad is 84 (almost 20 years older than my mom).
I didn't grow up with my dad. He and my mom divorced when she was 8 months pregnant with me. It was an incredibly tragic love story...and the reason my mom's life went into a downward spiral (imagine, it's 1965, you're 22 years old and your husband leaves you because he decides you're too young and he's embarassed that you're pregnant...at least that's the story my mom told me). I've never had the guts to ask my dad his side of the story.
I met my dad when I was 18. I had a horse accident when I was 12 and child services (or some such entity) had contacted him to pay my hospital bills (all unknown to me or my mom). They also had him start paying child support. When I turned 16, we were contacted by some government organization and told that there was a pot of money from my dad paying child support. I don't know why it took them 4 years to let us know about the money, but it was a nice surprise at the time. My mom told me that when I turned 18, if I wanted to contact my dad, I could. So, when I turned 18, I contacted the organization and they put me in touch with my dad.
Meeting him was incredibly surreal and over the years we developed a bit of a relationship. He lived in Northern California and I was in So Cal. so I didn't see him a lot during college. But, when I went to law school in San Francisco, he lived in the Santa Cruz mountains and I saw him quite a bit more. Since then, he's moved to Port Orchard and I see him every 12 - 18 months (mainly because the home office for the franchise I own is near Seattle and I always stop and see him when I'm up visiting the home office). We have a pleasant relationship, but he has three other kids (all from prior marriages to my mom) who grew up with him and are part of his everyday life.
Now my dad is sick. My mom died in February and I've told my dad that I can't handle him dying this year. I think he thought I was kidding...I really wasn't. I do realize I have no control over this, and whatever happens, happens. But, I'm sure hoping he makes it through the surgery and gets well. I don't have anymore tears in me this year...or maybe I'm just afraid if I start to cry...I won't stop this time!