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.
Along with a father and husband, I have been blessed with a son who is not a father, but who understands and supports me in a way that my dad and husband never have. He has always been my protector. He has gone to appointments with me “in case you cry.” He has gone grocery shopping with me to make sure I could get the bags into the car without hurting myself. He opens the door for me when I arrive home and often meets me at the car to help me with my belongings. He has a sincere love for me and it shows in his actions. Plus, he has been given the gift of my dad. When I need to be held, he will hold me without me needing to talk and life feels good again. He brings calm to my heart.
Although each of the men in my life have given me something different, they have all three given me a very beautiful gift. They have each continued to see me as a beautiful woman, even when I couldn’t see it myself. On my worst RA days when I was limping and barely able to lift my arm or grasp a teacup, I could look into any one of these men’s eyes and see how beautiful I still was to them. Honestly, this is what often kept me going on my worst days. While I would see pity and pain in other’s faces, I saw beauty in these three men’s faces.
I think sometimes we give men a bad rap, focusing on all that they don’t do for us as women rather than what they do for us individually. Each man in my life has a unique gift to give me while sharing many of the same gifts with one another. It is my job to listen and accept those gifts. This Father’s Day I feel so thankful for the three men in my life who have guided me, supported me, and most importantly loved me for exactly who I am at the moment – rheumatoid arthritis and all.
What unique gifts do the men in your life give to you?
Published On: June 18, 2012