October 2 Has Meaning for Me

October 2 has meaning for me.

Different days have different meanings. To a lot of people, October 2 means nothing different than any other day. To me, it has meaning.

October 2 is the anniversary of a day my life changed forever…the day my Daddy died in 2006. Pancreatic cancer. I’ve written about it before. Today is the 14th anniversary of his passing. While it’s hard to believe it has been 14 years, it also feels like I haven’t seen his face or heard his laugh in forever.

For years, I could only remember him sick. Pancreatic cancer was a cruel disease for him. Frankly, it was cruel for me and the rest of the family too. I had never felt such emotional pain. I thought I would lose my mind with grief. Yes, the disease was terrible, but through those months from diagnosis to his passing, we managed to have some good times. We laughed…a lot. We cried a lot too. We spent a lot of time together. My husband and I moved our little family down to the Alabama Gulf Coast for months, to be closer to Mother and Daddy. We were lucky we had a condo on the bay near their house. Our daughter was about to turn three. It wasn’t easy to uproot the family. We had good support in Charlotte…great friends we had made over the course of our marriage. They called to check on us, and they mailed little treats to our daughter. I called them and cried regularly. We didn’t have a lot of support in Alabama, but I enrolled our daughter in a church preschool…they very graciously took her when they didn’t have to. And I did everything I could to keep my little family happy while trying to help my mother help my daddy. Daddy was so sweet throughout his illness. It was heartbreaking watching him get sicker and sicker…and that was all I could remember for a long time.

But now, I can remember him not sick. I can remember his laugh. I can remember his stories and his wordplay. I can remember watching Atlanta Braves baseball on WTBS with him. I can remember watching the Chicago Cubs on WGN and listening to Harry Caray with him. We loved the early days of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire…when Regis hosted. He was into all the same “useless knowledge” I’m into. I remember what a jokester he was. I remember how he carried me to the car when I had a stomach bug at 17…just picked me up like I weighed nothing and carried me to the car to take me to the doctor. I can remember how big his hands looked when I was a little girl. When he was dying, I kept looking at his hands…trying to etch them in my memory. I don’t know why that was so important, but for some reason it was. I think his hands represented his strength to me…his physical strength, but also his emotional strength. He was rock solid to us. He carried the burden of supporting our family, and he didn’t have a financial safety net in the form of parents who could help him in a financial emergency. He gave us that safety net, though.

My brother and I laughed just recently talking about how Daddy always made sure we were taken care of. He provided for us…everything we needed and most of what we wanted…throughout life. And here’s the funny thing…he’s still providing for us, in a way. Just recently, almost three years after my mother died, we discovered they had a life insurance policy he had set up many years ago. Today, on the fourteenth anniversary of Daddy’s passing, I deposited the check from that policy into a bank account, and afterward, I sat in the car and thought, “Wow. Fourteen years to the day after he died, and he’s still giving to us.”

Don’t get me wrong. Mother provided lots for us too…in a different way, but today is about remembering Daddy. I used to dread October 2 every year, because it meant heartache to me, but now I smile. I’m certainly not happy he’s gone, but when October 2 rolls around, I spend the day thinking about Daddy. I’ll look at the moon tonight and remember how he used to call me in Charlotte from his home in Alabama and tell me to go outside and look at the moon when it was particularly spectacular.

Just this weekend, when I was in a store with a friend, someone heard me call her “Miss Merry Sunshine” and asked if that was her name. I explained that I just call my friend that because she’s perpetually happy. And even that made me think of Daddy. When he was sick, I would take our toddler daughter over to visit, and he would sing Good Morning, Merry Sunshine any time she walked into the room. She loved it…and frankly, I did too. In one of his final days, I walked into the room with her, and he had a lot of morphine in his system…his speech wasn’t clear. His smile was clear, but his speech was garbled. He was “singing” but it wasn’t clear. I took that almost-three-yr-old little girl outside, and said, “I wonder what Big Ken was trying to say to you?” She looked up at me with a big smile and said, “Good morning, Merry Sunshine!” So yes, I thought of him this past weekend when the woman in the store thought my friend’s name was Merry Sunshine.

Now that little toddler girl is almost 17. In memory of Daddy, before she goes out with her friends tonight, I’ll take her hand and press a crisp $20 bill into it. He used to do that…give me “walking around money,” or WAM, as we started calling it when I was in college.

His passing was difficult. That’s not even a good word for it. It hit me hard. But it also taught me some coping skills…his final lesson to me.

Lots of good memories of Daddy. Thanks, October 2, for making me sit back and think about him. I still miss him, but I have wonderful memories of him.

Karma Bit Me

Two weeks ago, my husband came down with a cold. There’s a reason we have the term “man cold,” and my husband’s behavior was a perfect example of it. As lots of men do, he acted like he was dying. It’s rare that I ever just “give in” to a cold, but my husband almost always does for a day or two, and I almost always make fun of him for it.

In this particular instance, I came home from volunteering at our daughter’s school, and he was in bed. I asked, “Are you OK?” He looked at me with pitiful, watery, red eyes, and said, “I’m sick. I have a doctor’s appointment in the morning.” I stopped in my tracks on my way into the bathroom, looked directly at him, and said, “Really? You have a cold.” He sneezed before giving me the stink-eye look, and I walked on into the bathroom, secretly rolling my eyes while my back was to him. Later, I just couldn’t resist, and I reminded him that going to the doctor for a cold wouldn’t do him much good. They could tell him what to do to treat the symptoms, but then, so could I. “Drink lots of fluids. Take Motrin for any aches and pains. Take whichever meds work for you…Nyquil? DayQuil? Allegra? Mucinex?” He didn’t want to hear me.

The next day, he went to the doctor, where he was told he was suffering from allergies, and he was told to “drink plenty of fluids, take Motrin for aches and pains, and take Allegra.” OK. Whatever. Our daughter had just recovered from a cold, so I felt pretty sure what he had was a cold, but OK. I stopped harassing him. I let him “give in” to his “allergies.”

And then, a few days later,  I caught his “allergies.” I woke up one morning and knew I had caught his cold. That morning, I said to him, “Thanks for sharing your ‘allergies’ with me.” Of course, I did air quotes around “allergies” when I said it. By this point, he had his sense of humor back, and he laughed. He also said, “Well, that’s what you get for making fun of me.”

He was right. As badly as it pains me to say those three words, I told him, “You are right.” Karma had bitten me right on the…nose.

But it gets better. Not only did Karma bite me. Karma kept on biting me till I came down with a brutal sinus infection, something I’ve never experienced. It’s painful. The whole left side of my face was hurting. In fact, I went to the doctor and got a prescription for some antibiotics, and 24 hours later, my face is still hurting. Karma.

I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve written 500 times, “I will not make fun of my husband again.” I have apologized to my husband profusely. I’ve tried to atone for my transgression, but Karma doesn’t care. Karma just keeps on biting me, and I deserve it.

So next time your husband gets a “man cold,” do not make fun of him. Learn from my mistake. Just let it ride. Take care of him. Bring him chicken soup in bed. Ask him repeatedly if he needs anything. Tell him you’re sorry he doesn’t feel well. Don’t ask him to do his chores. Just let it ride. Seriously.

If you’ve ever wondered if Karma is real, this is a short-term example of how very real it is. Next time you feel wronged, if you start wondering if Karma will ever bite the other person, I’m going to tell you, without hesitation, you can bet your sweet bippy it will. You might not be there to see it, but Karma is real!