A little over twenty-five years ago I was playing in the side creek by our house in Agency, MO (population 432) when my Mom called me into the house. Now I knew I had not done anything wrong - this time - so I was not for sure why I was being called to come in so early.
She sat me down in a chair in the living room and told me that she and my Dad were getting a divorce. My first and obvious question was "Why?" She told me that she and my Dad just did not know how to fight fair and it was best they did not live together anymore. It's funny, because even at 8-years-old I knew what "not fighting fair" meant and as I look back on that day, I was no where near as devastated as most kids are when they hear that news. I guess in my mind I knew it was for the best, and I knew that as long as I was with my Mom, I felt safe no matter what.
Probably around the year mark of their divorce, my Mom started dating again. She went on several dates with men that just did not fit the bill. Can I tell you about the man that would throw pennies at me while we were watching volleyball games? I loathed that man. He thought he was funny and charming and all I wanted to do was take every penny ever created by man and jump them square on his head.
At the time my Mom was a banker and was doing very well at her job. She was being promoted and taking on new responsibilities - finally she was happy and confident and ready to take whatever life threw her way. And boy did life ever throw something her way. A man that initially made her cry after work and would test her knowledge at work on a daily basis. That man's name was Ken.
He had taken a job with my Mom's bank and was brought in to see if there were any processes that needed to be added, revamped or taken away all together - and my lucky Mom was one of the intelligent go to people. Little did she know the man that infuriated her would be the man she married one year later and now for almost twenty-five years.
I struggled having Ken in my life for longer than I care to admit. He was kind, soft spoken, a wonderful provider and the most patient man on the face of the earth. I disliked every single one of those qualities too, up until I was 15-years-old. I would only talk to him if I needed something - seriously, this is no exaggeration and he loved me through ALL of my bullshit.
There are so many things I could say about him, so many great things he has done for me and my Mom over the years. He has been the constant in my life when I felt like no one else has. He has treated me like his own daughter from the time he met me. He has never made me feel like less of a person and has always been the one I went to for sound advice and understanding. He is my hero and the love I have for him surpasses the love I have for any other man in my life. I could not imagine our lives without him and won't consider that an option until he is at least 99-years-old (maybe 98 if he tells me I am too skinny again).
Last week, Ken found out he has prostate cancer and he told us about it today. I was in no way prepared to hear that kind of news - people like him should be immune to things like cancer. God should look down on extraordinary people and say, "you see that man right there, the one that wears an invisible halo everyday, he should be exempt from any bad things that happens in this world."
And then I have a conversation with Ken today and I know why things like this happen to men like him. This happened to him because he has the courage, strength and faith to get through whatever life throws his way - including cancer. When I picked up the phone when he called (truth be told, I almost did not answer), he asked how I WAS DOING and wanted to apologize for the way I received the news that he had cancer (by email).
This is what I mean - he is always thinking of others before himself. He is always the strong one in our family and I just could not be more proud to call him my Dad.
He will beat this thing called cancer because he has to. We (me and my Mom) will give him no other option then to and believe me, we can be two of the meanest and most stubborn women you have ever met. Don't mess with us, buddy!
I love you all my heart, Dad. You bring normalcy and understanding in my life that I would otherwise take for granted. You are the best Dad that ANY girl could ever ask for. "Out of all the Dad's in the world, how did I get lucky enough to find the very best one."