On May 17th, 1989 my dad, Timothy Green, passed away suddenly at the age of 38. I was 7 years old at the time. The day started out as a beautiful spring day. I woke up for school feeling sick. I had recently had some health problems so I was allowed to stay home. I wish I hadn’t. My dad came home for lunch like he did everyday in between his multiple jobs. I remember greeting him and then falling asleep on the couch. When I woke up he was slumped over in his chair and my mom was in the other room calling 911. I watched him take his last breath and he was gone. My mom tried everything she could do. Then the EMTs came and did everything they could do. But there was nothing anyone could do. I remember very vividly waiting with the neighbor kids for my mom and dad to come back. But when my Grandpa arrived first I knew something was wrong. Not long after my mom came home to say he had died. The days after are just a blur. Family and friends coming into town, food and casseroles being delivered. Seeing my father in his casket and having to say goodbye, not really understanding the impact this event was going to forever have on me.
My dad was amazing. He was intelligent and inquisitive and full of life. He taught us about things like art, literature, and the opera. I remember one time he turned on one of his opera records and he pretended that he was leading the opera as my little brother and I happily jumped on the couch to the music! He taught us about past presidents and politics. The 2 of us watched every debate between George Bush Sr. and Michael Dukakis. And may I say, he would be appalled by our current election! And even though he lacked confidence in himself he was a dreamer. I got that from him. Nothing was really impossible if you put your mind to it. He worked so hard to support us, but always had time to play or wrestle. Every night when it was bedtime he would get down on all fours and let us ride him like a horse to bed. I always got to sit on his back and made my brother ride on his legs! He used to sing this song to me. I think it was from the nutcracker. Or maybe 12 dancing princesses. I can still remember the tune. Not long before he died we had an earthquake. I was so scared it would happen again and refused to sleep on the top bunk in case an earthquake knocked it over in the night. He made a bed for me on the floor and stayed with me until I fell asleep. When he died he left a hole in my life. I longed so much for a father growing up. Even just a father figure who could hold me and talk to me like he did. Who could tell me that everything was going to be alright, even when everything in my world was telling me something different. That longing has never gone away. As I’ve grown up I’ve really discovered that. No matter what age you are, a girl really needs her daddy. And mine isn’t here. I still would love a father figure in my life. Someone to reassure me and tell me I’m ok. To give me advice when I don’t know who else to turn to. To just give me a good dad hug! Those are so wonderful and I always welcome them when they come along! Last summer I saw a little girl at the pool hugging her dad. I almost started to cry! I wanted to tell her to never let go, to hold on for dear life. I was so jealous of her! People used to say that my dad completed his mission on earth early and God called him home because of that. I hated when people said that! He wasn’t done here. He had 3 kids who needed him. It drives me nuts when people tell me that still to this day!
My dad died of a disease called Marfan Syndrome. It is a most often genetic disease that in his case caused his aortic anyerism. He was there, and then he was gone. It was just that simple. Because Marfan Syndrome is so genetic, all three of us kids were tested for it after he died. And we were retested every year at Primary Children’s until we turned 18. I have also taken all 3 of my kids to be tested. And my sister’s daughter and soon to be born new baby will be tested as well. One of my sons does show signs of the disease and will need to be watched until he reaches adulthood. If my father hadn’t died from Marfan Syndrome, none of us would have ever known about it. Until it affected one of us. Or one of our children. I have always believed dad took one for the team. His death was not in vain. His death was to help the generations of people that would come after him.
Most of you know in 2012 I was diagnosed with a rare type of breast tumor. In order to get healthy I had to undergo a mastectomy and total reconstruction. I lost one of my nipples because of it and have a large scar instead. My plastic surgeon strongly has advised me to get a tattoo over the scar. He said it was really important for the healing process, both physically and mentally. But I had never gotten a tattoo and didn’t really ever consider getting one. In fact, I’ve always been taught not to. So the thought of getting a large tattoo over an already sensitive scar was pretty terrifying. So my surgeon had a 2nd suggestion. Get a smaller tattoo in a less sensitive area. That way I know what to prepare for. I’ve thought about it for 2 years. It’s so permanent, how could I ever choose something that would always be with me. Then last winter I found one of my dad’s old journals. And in the front cover was his signature. It hit me right then, that’s my tattoo! A little piece of my dad to carry around with me the rest of my life. And finally, as a present to myself on my 35th birthday, I got that tattoo! And guess what?! It wasn’t that bad! I know not everyone will agree with my decision to do this. But to me it feels right and was the best move for me. I will cherish this tattoo and all it represents.
I will always miss him. I will always long for a dad in my life. I will always feel that piece of my heart he took with him. I may even always be searching for that father figure. But from now on there a little reminder on my right shoulder that Timothy Green was here.