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Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Dad, My Hero

I want to take a short break from talking about my successes and failures and tell you a little story about my week.  Don't worry, I will get back to telling stories to boost my ego and then another story with some deprecating humor soon enough! 

Everyone has people in their lives that really make them who they are.  People they admire for any number of reasons and I am lucky enough to have a father who is not only a fan-freaking-tabulous role model but also my hero.  My dad was drafted into serving in the Army and was sent to Vietnam.  When we were little I remember him bringing out the projector and looking at slides that he projected onto the wall in the living room of his time overseas.  He would tell us a few stories about his time there but not many.  I'm not sure why but at some point he stopped talking about Vietnam or looking at the slides.  I mean he completely stopped.  I remember writing a term paper my sophomore year of high school and it was about Vietnam and I had to pry any information from him.

My Dad has always been the quiet one who sits in the corner listening to the conversation.  He's not interested in being the center of attention so it came as a little bit of a shock when, a few years ago, he started reaching out to the men he served with.  He would spend hours and hours on the phone reconnecting with them.  Then Dad and Mom started attending annual reunions all over the country that one of the men in the unit organized.  A few years ago Dan and I had the opportunity to attend a reunion and we've met several of the men that Dad served with.  It is nothing short of incredible what these men have given of themselves for each of us.  I feel blessed and thankful each time I see or hear from one of them or their family.

Two and a half days of my week this week were spent in Madison while my dad underwent surgery at the Veteran's Administration (VA) Hospital to have two of his four parathyroid glands removed.  Two bonus points for anyone reading who knew what a parathyroid gland was.  Two extra bonus points if you knew there were four of them or as Dan like to say a pair of a pair of parathyroid glands.  Anyway... I've been to government run facilities before, the DMV, post office, etc... and I kind of dread going there.  Add that to the stories that surfaced a few years ago about the VA hospitals and let's just say I was a little sketchy about Dad having surgery there.

I was completely wrong.

The hospital was as I imagined it would be.  It's a large facility that is crammed full of people, equipment and activity.  The space may be limited but the staff really makes the most of it.  The building was clean and well maintained.  The rooms were comfortable and the accommodating.  Everyone that we talked to, both hospital staff and other patient's family members were tremendously kind and welcoming.  We were able to ask what seemed like endless questions and I never, not even once, got the feeling that the doctor was in a hurry and needed to rush off because there was something or someone more important waiting.  The thing that struck me the most was that anyone who came to see him, from nurses to aides to doctors all said one important thing to him before they walked away. 

Thank you for serving.

In this holiday season remember those who have loved ones serving or have lost loved ones in the service.  I know I will. 

Oh, and to my dad and the other guys he served with.  Thank you for serving.

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