Last week, my Dad and I stopped at Wendy’s to grab some lunch. We ate burgers and fries and Dad sipped his Sprite, while noticing all the children in the restaurant. It takes him longer to finish a meal than it used to and while I waited, I couldn’t help but remember a couple of other special times spent with my Dad.
As a little girl attending a private Christian school with my sisters in Roanoke, Virginia, I looked forward to report card time. My parents would always reward us if we brought home all A’s and B’s, and S’s for satisfactory behavior with dinner at our favorite greasy spoon ~ Kenney’s on Williamson Road.
They were famous for dipping their burgers in a secret sauce, but we really liked the chicken. Mom recalls that the place was so greasy, you would slide across the carpet. But we didn’t seem to care. For us, it was a special treat.
As a teenager, one of my fondest memories was date night with my Father. He would take each of his daughters out on a date to spend one-on-one time with us. I remember eating dinner at Wendy’s one evening and Dad decided to give me some advice on how guys should treat me on a date. I should expect to be treated with respect and he showed me what that looked like. What I remember most about that evening was how my Father saw me ~ as a young woman.
And now we’re sitting in a Wendy’s after his doctor’s appointment and a discussion of prostate cancer treatment. I don’t know at what point the roles reversed, but now I’m asking all the questions and Dad is just sitting there nodding his head and smiling. The nurse gives me five pages of information with important things highlighted so I’ll schedule a bone scan, a body scan and other tests.
What comes to mind is just how much he trusts me. He looks to me for answers and direction, just as I looked to him for answers and direction as a child and a teenager. He used to wait on me to finish eating; now I wait on him. He used to clean up my messes; now I clean up his.
As my Father scrapes up the remaining ketchup with his fries, I intercept the plastic container that holds the ketchup and pull it from his mouth. He gets confused with plastic containers and mistakes them for something edible. His hamburger keeps falling apart and I try to reassemble it but decide to let him eat it however he wants since there is an unlimited supply of napkins nearby.
He has no idea he’s been given a diagnosis of prostrate cancer. If we told him, he would forget it. He doesn’t remember the doctor appointments, the biopsy or the antibiotic shots. He endures doctor visits, CT scans and blood work with a smile on his face. He just trusts that all of that is necessary and part of us taking care of him. He trusts us implicitly. And that is a very humbling responsibility.
Last night when I was helping him to bed, he said, “Thank you for taking such good care of me.”
And my thought? I learned from the best.