At least a month leading up to Father’s Day, we start receiving pitches from PR folks; like those for Father’s day cocktail ideas, Father’s Day craft beers, Father’s Day wine gifts. One thing I learned when I studied PR, is that it is a good idea to read the publication before you pitch it. Doing a search on “Father” will give you an idea if the publication to which you are pitching posts stories that suggests drinks or gifts for that day, as well as its general treatment of the holiday.
I just started working on a new legal matter, and the security is pretty tight. So much so that we have to keep our phones locked in a drawer. When one uses her phone as her social umbilical cord, as well as music device, it’s a sudden jolt to the system to be away from it. Luckily the client provides listening devices in the form of iPod shuffles. The only problem with the “Shuffle” concept is that you don’t know the order of the song coming up — and sometimes the music catches you off guard. Friday was one of those times.
I had loaded Bruce Springsteen’s The Seeger Sessions, but was not anticipating hearing “Froggie Went a-Courtin‘” a few minutes after seeing a woman that reminded me of my late mother. It was a bit too much, and I started tearing up — right there at work, with a new client. Luckily no one saw me, I feigned something in my eye and ran off to the bathroom to compose myself. See, my dad used to sing that song to me when I was a little girl. I thought it was the funniest little song — and didn’t understand most of what it meant. I just knew it meant my father was in a good mood because he was singing to me. Dad didn’t have the best voice, in fact, sometimes it was downright awful — but I loved my Dad, and I loved when he sang to me — even years later when he would sing “Shake That Thing” to every Prince song that came on the radio — just to annoy me. “Those aren’t the words, Dad!” I would say. It did not matter — my dad was convinced that everything Prince sang was “Shake that Thing.”
It has been 10 Father’s Days since my Dad finally gave up his battle with cancer. Each year still it is a rather painful holiday. Here’s a piece I wrote about my Dad not so many years after he was gone…
Toasting my Father, Six Months After Ike
We live in Clear Lake, south of Houston, along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. And there’s a reason we live in an area prone to hurricanes.
In 1999 my mother had open-heart surgery. Soon after her quadruple by-pass, I met Joe. He visited Houston for Thanksgiving, and I went to Ohio for Christmas. I went to see Joe, meet his sons, his extended family, experience some snow, and to shoot the Motor City Bowl for an on-line sports publication. We had driven through Toledo at midnight hoping that all the Y2K fears would be avoided. They were.
I had just gotten off the plane from Detroit to Houston. I was driving from the airport to pick up my dogs at the kennel and was checking my voice mail. There was one from my brother: “Amy, Mom’s in the hospital. It’s pretty bad, but she’s still alive.” That’s usually how I find out about horrible stuff going on with my family. The phone. Or voice mail. Or e-mail.
Turns out mom had received an overdose (4x the amount prescribed) of antibiotics, from the home health care workers. She was taking them for the lung infection she’d gotten during her heart surgery. Now she had pneumonia. Her kidneys had failed. She was in a coma. At the time, Scott worked in the Medical Center in patient relations. He knew some attorneys. I probably don’t have to tell you the resulting story that goes along with that incident. Another story, another time.
I’d already applied and been accepted to law school. One day my brother, my father and I were visiting mom in the hospital. There was a weirdness in the air. Scott asks me to come out in the hall. So we go down to the stairwell — because that part of the hospital was under construction and there was no where to have any sort of privacy. And I am thinking, “Oh, sh!t.” But I’m kind of prepared, because I’d been through this a couple times with Mom and her heart. Scott says to me, “You can’t go to law school.” And I’m thinking, and probably said out loud, “What do you mean, I can’t go to law school?”
To finish this story, please read Toasting My Father, Six Months After Ike (2009), here.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad, wherever you are.