This weekend we celebrated another Father’s Day – a day once a year that we recognize the hard work our fathers, husbands, and sons do as men. Although I have never been a big celebratory person on Father’s Day, I do like to take time and remind myself of how lucky I am to have three awesome men in my life – my dad who passed away in April of 2010, my husband of 24 years, and my teenage son.
My dad was a quiet dad. He wasn’t what we typically think of as the “super dad” of today going to all of our events and having a part of most of everything in our lives. No, my dad was different. He was there for us when we needed him and stayed out of our business when we didn’t. He was the kind of dad you could cry in his arms never having to explain a thing, but leave feeling as if all your questions were answered. My dad often showed his feelings in his eyes. I could tell when he was angry with me which meant there was very little yelling in my house growing up. I could also tell when he was hurting.
My rheumatoid arthritis hurt him. He hated seeing me in pain. When he would call me out of the blue to check up on me, I knew it was bothering him and I could visualize how his eyes must look as he sat talking to me in his rocker. Living 700 miles away did make it easy to hide a lot of what I was experiencing but when he saw me, he would always say, “I hate seeing you like this. You are too young for this.” When I shared different treatment choices I was making with my dad, he never questioned my choices. Instead he supported them by listening to me and then making sure he did his part to make my wishes come true. My favorite part of him helping me with my alternative choices was the wonderful gluten free meals he made for me. Even on one of my last visits with him when he had absolutely no energy, he made sure to make me his famous fried rice with homemade gluten free eggrolls. Yeah, my dad was the best.
I often hear that we marry men similar to our fathers. Well, my husband is very different from my dad in many ways. He isn’t one to let me cry in his arms without talking as he likes to figure out a plan to make the situation go away quickly. And, he doesn’t make me gluten free meals. But, he does support me on any and every choice I make. Instead of making me gluten free meals, he searches out restaurants that serve gluten free meals that I can eat. He has never complained about the money I have spent on alternative care. Most importantly to me, he has never treated me as if I was living with an autoimmune disease. For me, this has been huge. He worries about me of course, but he continues to make plans for us as if I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis. This has helped me tremendously in visualizing myself in a good place with my rheumatoid arthritis.