I am currently in my home state of Arkansas. I traveled here earlier this month to help tend to my sick father. Because I am fortunate to have a day job that affords me a fair amount of transportability, I am able to camp out for a month at my old college pal's house in Fayetteville, a charming university burg that I will always consider my hometown, and use his broadband to log in my work hours.
Each day, I travel multiple times between Alan's home in the center of Fayetteville, and my father's place in the rural outskirts, about 10 miles outside of town. I don't mind. It is a pleasant drive, and even if it were not, I would do it. He's my dad, and as his eldest son, I feel a strong calling to offer my assistance as best I can. Aside from that, I love him. While we may not always have seen eye to eye on many things, he brought me up to be a well-mannered and respectful person with (I think) a kind heart and honorable soul, all of which are traits I have admired in him since childhood.
Nearly every day, I go out to Dad's house to spend time with him. Sometimes I shuttle him to his radiation therapy appointments, when he doesn't feel like driving himself. Wednesdays are tough days for him, with radiation followed by 3 to 4 hours of chemotherapy. His arthritis in his knees nearly debilitates him, but he marches on like a trooper. It is difficult seeing Dad like this. He has always been a strong man, a gentleman to a fault. He was dashing in his earlier years, with a friendly charm that could carry him through any situation. It is no wonder he was a successful proprietor of the small grocery store and gas station that he owned while I was growing up.
Even though we were light years apart with our social and political leanings, I have forever loved Dad, and although I always looked up to him as a man like no other, it took me a long time to realize the depth of my affection. He is not perfect. Despite his successes, he has often been plagued with failing hopes and harsh regret, and has more than once entered the dark cavern of clinical depression. But he has always emerged with head high and spirit intact. He is, quite simply, the most remarkable man I know.
I am now comfortably middle-aged, and he is approaching his septuagenarian decade. With the benefit of some sharp hindsight, and although we don't talk about it much, we are both aware that those many years we spent in quiet disagreement and rank avoidance of each other were sadly wasted. But the past is past, and we never discuss it. We don't feel the need. Over the past few years, we have come to get along like we never have before. We have learned how to accept our differences, and we have taught each other a startling amount of acceptance along the way. Yes, I have learned a lot from Dad. Of that, there is no doubt.
I am proud to carry his name. I am honored to be his son. I am grateful to be here with him at this time.