This week marked what would have been my dad’s 100th birthday. He passed away in 1987, though, at the age of 65. I never had the opportunity to know and love him during my adult life, since I was 19 when he passed.
I almost died when I was 2 years old, from asthma. My earliest memory actually comes from this trauma. I recall being in bed, someone caring for me, and having difficulty breathing. At the time, I had no idea of the importance of all that was happening, of course. I really only know from the stories of others that mom and dad were so worried and it took a while for them to discern what was causing me to be asthmatic.
My dad raised doves. He had a large cinder block dove cage up on the hill behind our house. He would come in from tending them and I suppose I would hug him or sit on his lap. As it turns out, I was, and am, allergic to doves. I’m actually allergic to all feathers, even in a feather pillow, as well as all other animals with fur…except dogs.
Dad gave up the doves, letting them go to live in the wood on the hill behind our home. I got better, though I did have a lot of other allergy problems and was given dimetapp to get me through all the symptoms for all my years of growing up. I don’t have any clue why mom and dad didn’t take me to an allergist to get tested or have me put on allergy shots. I do know that my dad became hyperaware of anything that might affect my breathing.
When I became a teen and started messing with my hair more, and using hair spray, dad would often express concern about the spray. It aggravated me at the time, as most teens would react to well-meaning parental concern. I didn’t understand why he was concerned at the time, but as I think back, and now that I’ve been a parent myself for these past 28 years, I can get why he was worried, albeit misplaced.
My dad loved me, and though he wasn’t perfect, he showed his care for me, his pride in who I was, and his belief in who I was becoming. No, I didn’t know him as an adult daughter should know her father, but in my memories of him, I’ve had this wonderful gift. Everywhere I’ve lived over these years, there have been doves who nest somewhere close to my home. I hear them coo in their mournful way, and I am comforted, reminded of my dad and the sacrifice he made so that I could be well.