Another Year Over…

We did not exchange gifts this year. For the first time in three years, Christmas did not come wrapped in memories of IVs, hospital smells, or the face of pain…that was gift enough.

We received a digital photo frame from Nick’s parents last week. Resizing pictures from “the early days”, there are lines on our faces that were not there before. We joke that we’ve aged each other. How dare you make me smile so much that it stays on my face long after the moment has passed! As we embark on our fourth year together, he can still surprise me.

Unloading groceries last night, he hands me an envelope. “I meant this to be for Christmas, but it did not come until Saturday.” I reread the first line a few times in disbelief. He donated money for Cancer research in my mother’s name. It was one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received. I started tearing up and his lower lip trembled: he knew.

He did not know her well. I wanted them to meet, but Mom was insistent that she wanted to wait until she felt better. She was in denial that the end was so near, and I suppose that I was too because I rescheduled the meeting for some future date when the nightmare would be over.

Instead, he met her once in the hospital when she promised him, “Next time you see me, I’ll be doing somersaults,” and the next time he saw her she was delirious and heading into a coma. Yet, for a woman that he didn’t know, and a girlfriend that he knew less than a month, he never left my side. He just seemed to understand what needed to be done.

He always does. Thank you, Nick.

Happy New Year!

Winged Swine

Nearly one month ago, my father purchased a laptop…his first ever computer. Now, being a member of gen-y, I had the benefit of growing up with a computer in the home. My parents hired someone to set up that big clunky computer in our home office sometime during third or fourth grade. My father, after a few rounds with DOS, decided that it was not for him. He never tried to use a computer again—a little shocking for someone who owns his own business, no?

Needless to say I am pleased as punch that he has decided to join the digital age. He has mastered the touchpad on the laptop and even exclaimed with glee that it seemed much easier than that separate “rolly thing”.

…man after my own heart.

Nick and I spent several hours with him right after he brought the computer home, and I set up a wireless network for him and increased the font size on the screen. I created an email account for him, though I doubt that anyone but me has his address! He plays solitaire daily and calls me regularly to tell me the score–so far, the game has won way more than he has. He also likes to search for Moen faucets and Farm-All tractor parts, but I don’t like to talk about that.

He left a message for me at work yesterday wondering if I would be available to celebrate Grandma’s birthday in a week. I, evil thing that I am, sent him an email and left a message on his cell to check there for my reply. He was the cutest thing! He called during lunch in a panic because he couldn’t figure out how to look at email—every time he tried to type his password it came out as stars! “What am I doing wrong!?” he cried.

No doubt about it, I am closer to my father now than I have ever been. Relationships take effort and open minds. When Mom died, I truly felt orphaned. Not that my father has ever been a poor father, merely that I was blinded with grief for the parent that doubled as my best friend. My vision is clearer now, and I can see the pragmatic, kind, and generous man that he is…so many qualities that I respect and hope that I in some way possess.

I really was blessed with my parents, both of whom I deeply admire. The word that comes to mind when I think of them is “pure”. Not that anyone is perfect or deserves to be put under that expectation, but they never pretended to be someone who they were not. Honest in their shortcomings and accepting of mine, I could not love my parents more. I now consider my father one of my best friends. I am happy to share with him the secrets of the digital age…finally.