This post is an excerpt from Don Kerr’s awesome book Riding Shotgun.
Special occasions, whether genuine or Hallmark holidays, can be challenging when cancer finds a place at the table. I wrote the following piece on Father’s Day about 2 years after my wife Kate’s diagnosis with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer.
One of the key messages I adamantly stress to male caregivers is this – you have a choice to make at the outset of your partner’s diagnosis and one which will be revisited often as you progress through treatment. That choice is this – will you show up?
Sounds simple doesn’t it?
It’s not and there are many marriages that fail when cancer comes calling. Apart from exposing your partners to the rigours of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and whatever else she may require, cancer will expose every frailty that may exist in your relationship.
When you decide to show up you make a commitment to hang in there regardless and when it comes to your one special day of the year – Father’s Day – you may have to adopt a much different outlook.
Mr. Mom’s Father’s Day
This is turning out to be a really great day. Enhanced by the pure joy of my boys. Marred only by the absence of my wife. But then again, made joyful as she is in England spending some well-deserved away time with her best friend in the world – Alexandra Pittortou – and surprising her brother Bob with an unexpected visit and gobsmacking her own father with an ambush Father’s Day celebration.
Gabe got the festivities underway at 4:15 a.m. when he thought it would be a good idea to make sure Daddy was sleeping OK while Mommy is away. He crawled into bed with me and after a little chat, we both drifted off to dream land until Samuel thought he should be part of the parade at 5:45 announcing himself, lungs full and yelling, “DADA? WHERE ARE YOU? GABO? WHERE ARE YOU?” I retrieved him and since then we:
replanted the front garden;
visited Tim Horton’s for some much needed nourishment;
rode the tricycle;
rode the scooter;
rode the dump truck;
rode the bicycle;
threw stones into Lake Ontario;
visited Hanna at the garden store to buy a trellis and some more pea seeds;
planted the peas;
placed the trellis;
chased the neighbour’s cat;
chased the the other neighbour’s dog;
spent some nice time visiting with Silvano and his dog Cricket;
had a great chat with Joan and her dog Lily (as Gabe described it “visiting with that old woman who gives us candy!);
had peanut butter and jam sandwiches, pretzels and veggie straws for lunch;
killed another Easter bunny;
changed two poopie diapers and one wet one;
exchanged wardrobes for both boys (post-gardening necessity);
watched the Disney Channel; and,
now, Samuel is sitting on my lap asking to watch Thomas the Tank – the ghost episode.
breakfast, lunch and dinner prep and feeding;
two loads of laundry, drying and folding then sorting into outfits;
cleaning up (kinda, sorta – will admit there was less disinfectant involved than when Kate does it);
get the bath ready;
change another diaper;
wash hair, brush teeth, read stories, apply lotions and potions, scare away the ghosts, close the proper doors, turn out the lights in the proper order and descend to the kitchen – where I now sit – and contemplate pouring a rather large Martini.
So there you go. My excellent Father’s Day.
Oh. Forgot. Got to do FaceTime with Mommy and friends.
Regardless – that was Father’s Day. In other words, I did today what my wife does every day with one exception – I didn’t engage with cancer in my body.
I didn’t do a 30-minute, 5K jog on the treadmill.
I didn’t do my 45 minutes of mindful meditation.
I didn’t do any Yoga.
She is remarkable.
About the Author: Don Kerr
I am a husband and a father. I am a believer in work/life integration. I am a professional writer and branding consultant who also writes about everyday events on two blogs and several social media sites. I try always to maintain a childlike sense of wonder and curiosity. I sometimes succeed. I often fail. I always keep coming back for more.
I live happily in Burlington, Ontario, Canada with my family.
To hear more from Don or to purchase any of his amazing books visit his professional website or check out the Riding Shotgun website.