What are you reading?
‘Are you going make a speech?’ Neil asked me, before and during the wedding.
‘I’ll do one if you forget anything in yours,’ I said.
‘I won’t. But you should say something, anyway. I don’t want a sexist weddingslashmarriage.’
‘Reason a billion and 31 why I love you.’
During his speech, my Dad told a story I mentioned in this post, and said that Lorna’s Dad is the best title he’s ever had. Well, being his daughter is pretty awesome, too.
The best man brought George Bailey-Penguin on the stage with him.
And then my husband got up and said marrying me was better than winning an Oscar. It’s funnier in context, but that was my favourite part of the whole thing. Followed by the part where he thanked Morgan Freeman for narrating his life.
Since the boys seemed to be having a good time, I got up there. Without notes, and with tears in my voice.
Here’s what I think I said. I’m happy I did, but I forgot the bold bits, until now. If I’d actually written a speech, it would have looked something like this:
Some of you may be surprised I haven’t written anything for this. I’m better on paper, but I wanted to thank everyone for sharing today with us. It would have been cool to get married on our own, but you guys made it awesome. I want to get around to everyone, but there it is.
I’d like to thank my family and friends, and my bridesmaids for putting up with me these 14 months and longer.
And thanks to my in-laws for having my husband.
I’d like to thank Jane and Amy for taking my cat. If it wasn’t for you guys, we might not be up here, either.
On that note, I’d like to thank my father for leaving the Seminary. That went well, aye?
Thanks for going on, years later, to raise me to know that Neil was somewhere out there and that he’d want to marry me someday.
I know I’m good enough for him, because you loved me first.
And Neil, I arrived here 19 years ago, on your birthday. Scotland has given me so much, and I am most grateful for you.
I feel like I’ve known you a hundred years, and I’m just happy we made it legal.
Can we work on the cheese phobia now?
I’ve been trying to get my Dad to start a blog for awhile now. Or at least guest-post on here.
Dad needs to blog for lots of reasons. The main one being, dude is too verbose for Facebook. Today, he posted this:
32 years ago today – 31.03.81 @ 12:50 local time in Dallas, Texas – life changed forever. It was the happiest day of my life. After two weeks of very early and difficult labour, my wife and I finally made into the delivery room for a C-Section. It’s a girl, the doctors said. For a fleeting moment I was slightly disappointed; I thought I had wanted a boy. A few moments later, a nurse said, “Well, Dad, you’re going to be doing a lot of this so you better get used to it,” as she handed me a tiny 3lb 12oz wrinkled bundle of pure love, joy, beauty and peace named Lorna Karen Duff. She looked like a wee organ grinder’s monkey because she had a tiny Dixie Cup taped askew on her head to keep her from pulling out her IV and she fit quite snugly into my left hand. We were bonded together instantly and I really, truly believed that even then, in those very first moments, we understood one another completely. 32 years later I still do.
That little Read More… line that showed up on his post made me cry. Because that’s me. And that’s my Dad.
He needs a blog, right? How many of you would read it?
When I was a kid, and Father’s Day or his birthday rolled around, I would buy my Dad a tie. Or a wallet. I wasn’t very creative back then. At Christmas, people would get something from the craft-fair at school. Nothing with glue or dried macaroni on it, because I thought that was a waste of food. But if my Grandparents needed a magnet or a bookmark with a purple tassel on it, they knew I would hook them up at Christmas.
The big decision for my Dad was whether the tie would have stripes or zigzags on it. Or how many photo slots would be in the wallet. Would this year’s shirt have one of those little green alligators on it? Who knew? Ask Grandma.
My father doesn’t like surprises. Back then he would use sneaky tactics such as the Alphabet Game to find out what I saved up my allowance to buy him.
‘Does it begin with a T?’
I looked at him sideways. Because I could. ‘Yes.’
‘Is it tiger?’
‘Yes, Daddy. I broke into the Zoo and got you a tiger. Because six year-olds can do that. Real guesses, please.’
‘Is it a tie?’
‘Yes! How did you know? Oh, no. Now you know. I’ll have to switch it for a wallet.’
This happened every year. One year, I was particularly devastated. I had kept THE SECRET for two whole days.
Since he knew about the tie, I also got him a heart sticker. Which he put on the dashboard of his Blazer. I have never been a hearts and flowers kind of girl, but I loved that heart.
These days, I ask for a list of books he wants to read. One year I found him a not-so-tiny model car. And the year I surprised him with The Sopranos box set, Sarge and I watched it first.
I’ve always known it’s not about the stuff. I like gifts people will appreciate.
For the past few weeks I’ve been going to spend Tuesdays with Dad. Watching old movies or tennis after his radiation. I’ve always loved hanging out with my Dad. I appreciated him before he got cancer, and I still do. I cherish all my time with him. But I wish we didn’t have to share this time with 24 different medications. And even though this stuff will make him better in the long run, I wish he didn’t have to take it in the first place.
The only thing I want to give Dad for his birthday in a few weeks is, ‘Dad, you are cancer-free.’ That and a six-month supply of his favourite rice pudding, as it’s the only thing he can eat right now.
That’s it. And it’s not a tie.
Well, there is one more thing I’d like to give him. I figure Sarge and I can work on that next year.
Last Saturday, Sarge and I got up early to see our wedding venue decked out for a wedding. The sun was out and I could picture next year, our people in that room. ‘And we’ll announce you from here,’ said the events planner person. And I cried.
We headed toward breakfast and I wondered again why I order pancakes anywhere that isn’t my Dad’s house. Sarge finished them off for me, and I made him shoot some cherry blossoms on the way to a coffee-shop, where I drank coffee, read David Sedaris and eavesdropped on some tourists. I couldn’t help it. They were loud.
We went home and had dumplings while watching Manhattan. Life is good. I said so on Facebook.
Dad and Anne picked us up on Sunday and we went to the bridal shop so I could pet my dress. It was hidden in the back of the car before Sarge came out of hiding.
We take them back to the venue; Dad sits at the top of the room. Has a moment. ‘Well done,’ he says. ‘It’ll be a beautiful day.’
We have a late lunch, and are the last to leave the cafe.
‘Want to come up for coffee? We can kill some zombies for you.’
I expect Dad to say no, but we all troop up to the flat. This is Interesting, because they usually just go home.
Dad is on the couch, Anne is next to him. I’m parked in front of the books, Sarge next to me. ‘I have some news,’ Dad says in his This Is Interesting/Sit Down voice.
‘What?’ I actually gripped the frame of my chair.
‘What?,’ I say.
‘I’ll definitely fit into my kilt for the wedding, that’s the good news.’
He explained how he’d had a sore throat and then there was a lump. And he’d gone to the doctor and had to wait for results and I’m sorry if this doesn’t make sense because all I heard was cancer.
And then Dad said, ‘Please don’t break because if you do, I will.’
Anne is saying he’ll be alright and Sarge is trying to hold me and forgive me but I’m pushing him away, because I’m trying to focus on what Dad’s saying. Because it doesn’t make sense.
‘Once they get it it’s gone, and it isn’t going anywhere else, and if you moved up the wedding I wouldn’t enjoy it, so next year is fine, better even,’ he said. ‘I want four whole hours for my speech at the wedding and I’d like to name all my Grandchildren, thank you.’
He’ll have to shave his beard and he’s on morphine with more energy than ever because his chronic back pain is gone. His diabetes and hypertension will go away. ‘Maybe this is my next lesson,’ he said. ‘This’ll mean I’m healthier in the long run. It’ll give me my life back. Chemo is my liposuction.’
‘It’s a pain in the ass way to do it, though.’ I said.
‘Actually it’s a pain in the neck, sweetie.’ He hugged me. And then I broke.
After they left, Sarge asked how I was doing. ‘I can’t feel anything from my heart to my toes,’ I sad.
I get up the next day. And I’m surprised the world is still happening. I stay off the computer in order to avoid Google. I try to write in a journal Dad gave me. But there are no words. If I had any, I would say that I know cancer is treatable, or else there wouldn’t be treatment. After the treatment, people get better. People laugh and go to weddings and have Grandchildren.
People get through it. But this is my father, my best friend. He has to go through this. My Dad will get better. We just have to get there.
On Thursday, I went to the cancer centre and met one of his nurses. The place was nicer than at least one of the wedding venues Sarge and I looked at. I asked questions and cried and hugged a stranger. But she isn’t, really. She’s one of the people looking after Dad, and that makes her awesome.
And because I’m me, I got stuck in the bathroom. To make it homey, they put a rug in there. It got caught in the wheels and came with me through the door, along with a basket of towels and a small table.
I backed out of the room. ‘Hey you guys, I’m stuck.’ Sarge reached me first, and then laughed and said to Dad, ‘oh, you gotta see this.’
My Dad’s laugh is the same as always.
He’ll be in remission by October which also marks three years of me and Sarge. Stellar month. We’ll get there.
My mission today is to find Dad a beard hat.
And click here to see the second thing to make me cry happy tears today!
And so, I’m friends with my Dad. On Facebook and in real life. After I posted my post yesterday, he posted this on Facebook:
It pays to be friends with your Dad, people. It means a lot. It means, amongst many other things, that any baby picture of you he decides to share will be of the non-embarrassing sort. You hope.
I love you, Dad.