For my Dad.

I was born with Congenital Hip Dysplasia.  For those of you not in the know (which might be most of you), this is a disorder that happens more frequently with females and involves the top of the femur not being properly located in the hip socket.  The correction of this disorder is often timely and always costly.  Especially back when I was born, in 1974.  The correction involves putting the child (at least in my case) in traction to stretch the muscles back out, as they shorten with time.  This needs to be done in order to put the hip back in the socket, or to do as they did for me, which is adding an extra piece (sometimes of bone from another location) and using it to build up the socket area.  Can you imagine seeing your tiny, 8 month old baby in traction, heavy weights hanging on ropes taped to her legs, pulling her hip out of it’s socket?  Can you imagine having to keep her there for an extended period of time with very minimal breaks?  And then watching her go through major surgery to repair this “deformity”?  Then it’s not over…you still have months of enduring your little girl being strapped into this archaic brace that keeps her legs spread apart (a real joy to try and change diapers and clean her adorable bottom  through, from what I hear).  And then a lifetime of waiting to see if it worked.  Every fall, every accident, every time she has leg pain…will you have to go through this again?  I remember as a child, waking up with leg pain and my mom coming in my room and then me falling asleep to her soothingly rubbing my aching legs.  Until typing this post, I always attributed that to growing pains, and thought my mom so amazing for being in there, when she had to be so exhausted from working all day, taking care of my dad and her two kids and our home.  Now, I just came to the conclusion that she was probably worried about the surgery, that may never have been too far from her mind.  Why?  Because of who I would have been, had that surgery not been done.  I would have had a limp.  And that’s putting it mildly.  I would have had differing leg lengths and lifelong pain.  My parents wanted me to have a normal life.  It was treatable via surgery so they did everything and made every sacrifice they could, for that purpose.  But times were different.  It was different era.  Health insurance was not what we have today.  The bills were mounting.  And piling.  And my Dad had a Fender Mustang guitar that he adored, with a Gibson amp.  And a guy that wanted it.  Yeah.  He sold it.  For such a paltry sum it makes me shake.  Something under $200 for a guitar that today goes for such ridiculous amounts more, it would shock each reader.  $2000 would be a bargain on this guitar.  A bargain I say.  

Well, I wanted to find it.  Because he’s my Dad.  And because of what my life would have been if he hadn’t done this for me.  This is my Dad’s post, so it won’t be about Mom, but trust me…that woman has sacrificed for me a million times over.  I am such an amazing mother, because I was raised by one.  She gave me the strength to single parent, even though she didn’t know that’s what she was doing.  But if I hadn’t had that surgery, I would have been a very different person.  

I’m a firm believer that confidence really makes us who we are.  I was raised with confidence and belief in my own abilities and independence.  My sports-minded parents had me involved in athletics and I was rough and tumble from the start.  I can’t remember not being a runner, a soccer player…a tomboy.  Those things define me.  And through those things, I became confident.  Which made me smart, intellectual and self-assured.  It made me participate in sports teams, kept my body in shape, my mind active, my friendships based on the fun activites we did together.  The right kind of friendships.  I was an all around good teenager, because I had the right kinds of connections.  You know what I mean?  I didn’t even know about my hip until I was old enough to not really care.  It wasn’t affecting me, I had a killer right foot when I aimed at the goal, I was gymnastically nimble and a fast runner.  My body was toned and muscular because of those activites.  High school was enjoyable and filled with fun for me.  Prom court, dating the senior prom king…it was a good life.  I’ve been able to maintain that level of activity and although it’s trickier now (thank goodness for that metabolism Mom, I appreciate the gift you handed down to me genetically), I’m still in great shape.  

I was brought to tears thinking about who I would be if I hadn’t had that surgery.  Those defining moments in childhood when I wouldn’t have been able to keep up.  When I wouldn’t have had that confidence and would have been more of a wallflower, instead of dancing in front of everyone.  The sports would be out, which may have changed my physical appearance.  And in reality, the one thing I know is that my self-esteem would have suffered.  I wouldn’t be the laid back, low stress, life-loving person that I am.  The childhood taunts and teasing I would have endured would surely have affected me in many negative ways.  

So I tried to get that guitar back for Father’s Day.  As a thank you.  I called a lady who is the sister to the guy Dad sold it to.  The guy he sold it to, had died awhile back…but the sister knew right where it was.  It’s right down the road from our store.  I called the family, but never heard back from them.  Apparently, it matters to them-it was their uncle’s guitar for about 33 years after all.  And I hear that his niece plays it now.  So that’s sweet.  But damn.  I just always wanted to give it back to him.  I want to hand it to him, (I know I’ll have tears streaming down my face, just like now) and tell him “thank you”.    I want him to know that I  know.  That I know how much he did for me.  I get it now.  I’d give up a limb without hesitation for my girl…so I know why he did it.  But it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it.  We aren’t huggy, we aren’t kissy, but I’m his only daughter (notice I didn’t say his only girl, because my baby is certainly his main girl these days  😉  ), but I love him.  And thank him beyond words.

I love my Dad.   

And I wish I could give him this:

Maybe someday.  Maybe those people will one day let it come back.

What makes a hero?

Here’s what Merriam Webster has to say:

 

he·ro Listen to the pronunciation of hero
Pronunciation:
\ˈhir-(ˌ)ō\
Function:
noun
Inflected Form(s):
plural heroes
Etymology:
Latin heros, from Greek hērōs
Date:
14th century
1 a: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability b: an illustrious warrior c: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities d: one that shows great courage2 a: the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work b: the central figure in an event, period, or movement3plural usually heros : submarine 24: an object of extreme admiration and devotion : idol
Here’s what Former Single Mommy has to say:
A hero is someone who inspires you to follow your dreams, by living a life worthy of following by example.  Every time I think of doing something great, or accomplishing bigger successes than I already have, I think of “who is my hero”?
Does your hero have to be someone who has done extreme things, accomplished many letters after their name?  Discovered a cure?  A new scientific theory?  A political activist?  
It’s always been clear.  It’s my Gram Julia.  She was a woman who endured the loss of not one, but two husbands.  Her first husband and his brother were in a car with her, she had two children at the time, and they had a car accident.  The first husband died.  The other brother married her to help her raise her children and they ended up having four more of their own and having a beautiful love, until his life was tragically ended in a  mining accident when he was only in his thirties.  My Dad was 14.  My grandmother endured all the years of raising the children, the youngest child being ten when her Daddy died.  She also had to go through the Vietnam War, when all of her sons, in different branches of the military, felt called to serve (as their Dad had done).  I have the beautiful china my Dad brought back for her from overseas when he was in the Marines. She wanted to be sure I had it before she died…so she could be sure it was in the right hands.
My grandmother lived about a half mile down the road from me, and growing up I was there just about daily.  She was where I got off the bus, or stayed when my parents went somewhere.  To be honest, I pretty much lived there.  She could be a sassy, cranky woman, but she was someone I was completely in love with.  I sat on her lap right up until she died.  She instilled a love of reading in me that has helped me weather some tough times alone.  She showed me what a single mom can really do when faced with obstacles.  She always maintained an impeccably clean house.  Yeah, I got my OCD neat freakism from her too.  She was my inspiration for so many things.  I think she knew that.  Nothing was better than my Gram Julia’s spaghetti and meatballs and molasses cookies.  Her house was my other home.  I loved her smell, her smile, the way she crinkled her eyes.  She was the crux of our family.  When she was diagnosed with cancer, she didn’t let anyone know for a long time.  That’s who she was.  She suffered silently.  And kept on being my Gram Julia.  When we finally did learn of her illness, I was in denial right up until the day of the funeral, when I went into her house with my aunt, to retrieve the opal ring she’d wanted me to have (I wore it on the day of my first wedding).  When I walked into that house, I knew.  She wasn’t there.  The funny thing is, I feel her so many places now, but I certainly did not feel her there.  My daughter is eerliy reminiscent of her.  B was about two when my Gram died, but they had a great relationship.  B loved her “Gam Gam”.  The night of her death I was in B’s room rocking her and suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of … something.  Not sad, not peace…just something.  And I knew.  I found out shortly thereafter she had died.  A couple days later, as B was lying on the floor and I was dressing her from above, she pointed over my shoulder and started laughing and squealing “Gam Gam”!  So yes, I think we are watched over by our very own guardian angel.  
I miss you Gram.  You are my hero as a single mother, before it was fashionable to be one.  You taught me my love of reading, of cleanliness, of beauty inside and out.  I inherited my curious mind from you (one time she was poring over my high school history text and asked me to leave it, so she could read it she was so fascinated).  She could cook, garden, raise children.  She is and was amazing to me.  People asked me all the time during my five years as a single mom, how I could do it?  How could I not?  My own Daddy was raised by an amazing single mother.  I miss her every single day, even now, 6+ years later.  I can still see her smiling at me.  I love you Gram.  You are my hero.
(the top is Gram holding me as a small child, the bottom is Gram holding B, when she was just two).