I had the opportunity to massage my father’s shoulders, back, neck, and arms this afternoon. He may be my dad but he’s not invincible, I was reminded. I could feel the stress related knots I was probably partially responsible for causing. I suppose somehow this opportunity was more meaningful after attending the visitation for my childhood friend’s father yesterday. Today I also received a message from an English friend telling me her father had just died this week. What a gift I had to work on my father!
Somehow massage seems to both a) allow memories to rise to the surface and b) make some more talkative. “Did I ever tell you about the time Uncle M (my dad’s “little” brother) spent most of the afternoon swimming on the bottom of the pool floor with a life jacket on? Grandma N (his mom) picked him up at the end of the day and noticed that it wasn’t that he was that good of a swimmer but rather his jacket was full of water,” dad told me. I laughed, imagining how incidents like this must have made my Uncle M into the Fighting Illini football player he became. Funny, his mother, Grandma N, had similarly verbalized reflections during her massage. She told me how she and her childhood friend Sally had worn the same wedding dress and how some 40 years later, her mom (my great grandmother) had rescued it from Sally’s mom’s yard sale.
Seeing the scar on his right deltoid reminded me of the time I was most worried about my dad. It was only the removal of a cyst but seeing your dad come home with a bloody bandage as a 6 year old, is enough to fear the worst. I think it was this “traumatic injury” he suffered that made us invent of the “TD” (tough daddy) t-shirt for him for father’s day, a t-shirt with the iron-on green letters “TD”. I’m sure there are other times when I should’ve been more worried about my father, but I never knew it. Either because I just wasn’t paying attention or because he just doesn’t complain….probably a combination of both.
He may still be a “Tough Daddy” to me, but often I forget my dad is real and vulnerable. I am reminded how blessed I am to have him with me today.