Ever since I was a very little girl, I've always had this white hot little fear of something happening to my dad. Something bad. This fear most likely has a Freudian connection, some sort of psychological answer as to why a girl child suffers a subconscious fear that something's going to creep in like a thief in the night and steal her daddy away. And with that, my security, my safety net, my Dad, would disappear.
I have memories of events where I was scared shitless about things happening to my Dad. When I was about four years old, my parents were invited by some friends to go boating and, as I would learn, water skiing. Young as I was, I'm sure I'd never been in a speed boat, much less witnessed the sport of water skiing. As the boat sped around the lake, I hung on for dear life, terrified. Isn't this fun Terri? Are you having fun honey? Um...no. Please take me in. I think I just wet my pants. After yet another turn around choppy waters, the boat slowed down. Dad strapped on a life jacket and plopped himself into the (very deep) water. After moments of fussing around with ropes, skis, and me not really knowing what the hell was going on, the boat took a sudden jolt forward. I looked back and saw my dad holding fast to a rope on the back of a speeding boat. Fun? I opened my mouth and screamed bloody murder. Didn't stop until Dad was safely back inside the boat. I'm sure I pretty much squelched any enjoyment my parents might of had that day. Who knows what kind of brat their hosts imagined me to be. All I know is that I've never forgotten how terrified I was. My Dad's life flashed before my four year old eyes. I can still hear my scream.
Another event, a few years later when I was maybe 6 or so...Dad borrowed a friends motorcycle and, in an attempt to impress God knows who, nearly killed himself (or so I thought) by trying a wheelie while speeding down our neighborhood street. And again, there I was, open mouthed screaming as I saw my Dad being thrown one way while the bike went another. He was okay, no broken bones, but bloodied up pretty good. Me? One more incident tucked away in a little girl's mind to ponder over on nights when there's no need for the boogie man, the sheer fright of child nightmares enough to keep me company long into the night.
Other events, Dad breaking his leg on a ski trip in Colorado, Dad coming in the house from shoveling an elderly neighbors walk, face looking like he'd been attacked by a knife wielding nut case, thanks to a shard of ice that had slipped from an awning and caught him right in the forehead. And as if this weren't enough, from say age eight on, and throughout my early twenties, I suffered a recurring nightmare involving my Dad. From middle school on, we lived near a beach, and at the beach there was one of those floating rafts - wood planks attached to barrels attached by chain to underwater cement blocks. The underside of that raft always gave me the creeps, big time. In the nightmare, my Dad is caught somehow - under water, under the raft, and no matter how hard I try, I can't free him. If only I had known how this dream, these fears, would somehow later in my life prove to be prophetic.
It all started with a little twitch in my Dad's leg about 10 years ago. Later on that twitch would be diagnosed as Parkinson's disease, a disease in which the body serves the brain divorce papers. A divorce that is long, drawn out, cruel. Because Parkinson's disease itself is a misery that loves company, heart disease became the smarmy divorce lawyer. And because of the complications of the divorce, the lawyer needed an associate. Hello dystonia...abdominal, rare, debilitating, disfiguring and horribly painful. Days have turned into years where I haven't been able to free my dad from being stuck under the raft.
But this is my Dad: hopeful, courageous, positive, calm. I know no one more brave than he. Inside my Dad resides an indomitable spirit. Brain surgery at Mayo, a quadruple bypass, a stroke. He still finds his way back to me. Pulls his head above that murky water and puts his hand on the raft. And I grab it. I hold on tight.
Intuition, the voice which NEVER lies, has prepared me. All my life long I've known that the time would come where I wouldn't be able to scream and save him. I'd wake up and no matter how hard I pinched, this wouldn't be a dream. But still. No matter the effect the ravages of Parkinson's has had on my Dad. Despite the trauma his tender heart has suffered. I still see my Dad, his love of life. His appreciation for the joy of one more day. And he teaches me. He's there for me, Dad as always. And through him I'm inspired. To be brave. To seek adventure, to lust for life. To live life to it's utmost. For him. Through me.
And tonight? After another day, another surgery, there's my Dad...still hanging on to the tow rope. The speed boat that is life pulling him along on another rough ride, only to end safely at shore.
I love you Dad.
p.s...for more on the artwork above, visit here http://www.markfineart.com/