To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

I have never regretted taking after my father. Even getting his bone structure crammed into my mother’s height, or falling off my shoes due to Daddy’s weak ankles, they were happy trade-offs for his sense of humor and quick wit.

I inherited one other gift from my father. Daddy slept through every crisis in his life. Whenever his life fell apart, Daddy started yawning. He’d drop off into a nap, waking occasionally to see if the situation had improved, and drifting back off if it had not. He didn’t  use it to escape unpleasant situations. After doing everything he could to solve a or improve the latest washed-out bridge in his life , instead of sitting around worrying about how things would turn out, he laid down and took a nap. The infinite wisdom exhibited wasn’t lost on me, and it was by far the most valuable gift I ever received from him.

In May I went in for my annual physical and, as usual, my doctor ordered a mammogram. This time he made sure I got one of the newer 3D kind. Since I had absolutely no family history of breast cancer I thought he was over-reacting  bit, but for once I did as I was told. Long story short, I was diagnosed with an early stage malignancy.

At this point time sped up, and before I knew it I had three new doctors–a surgeon, an oncologist, and a radiologist– and enough  informational literature to support a college course. Thanks to the 3D mammogram, I was one of the lucky ones. It was caught so early I only had to have a lumpectomy, no mastectomy, and radiation treatments, no chemo. In less than two weeks of two-a-day radiation treatments I was declared ready to be kicked back into play in my life, assuming I could stay awake.

Being a woman of a certain age and never known as a ball of fire, I didn’t think I could get any more sloth-like. But it seems the radiation treatments really rob you of energy. In my case it brought on near-narcolepsy. Hibernating in the summertime is a lot better than nausea and hair loss, but I rose to new levels of getting nothing done. I would get home from my morning radiation treatment in the nick of time to fall into a dreamless sleep, waking just in time to go for my afternoon treatment.

My father passed away in 1992, but he was very close to me throughout my cancer days. I could hear him saying, “It’s going to be okay, baby girl,” or “No sense in worrying about losing your figure–much ado about not much,” and my favorite, “You look like you could use a nap, baby girl.” I heard his voice and saw his smile, and agreed with him every time. I’d fall asleep thinking, Thanks, Daddy. I love you.

I never believed in guardian angels, but I’m convinced I have a least one. He’s not one of those flashy guys, all radiant and sporting wings. Mine is an old oilman with a wicked-dry sense of humor, a genuine perma-tan from being outside every chance he got, and ears to rival Lyndon Johnson’s. He dished up huge bowls of ice cream, probably is in charge of making cream gravy in Heaven, and could squat interminably while telling one of his stories. He had a deep dimple in his chin, he said he got from sleeping on his collar button, and an incredibly deep voice. It sounded like distant thunder when he was gentle and the voice of God when he was mad.

He didn’t leave me a million dollars, or prime real estate somewhere, or valuable stocks and bonds. But he did leave me with his own version of a Pearl of Great Price. He left me with the ability to sleep through anything until I was strong enough–and rested enough–to face the problem.

Thank you, Daddy. I love you.





5 thoughts on “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

  1. A beautiful piece, Janet! It’s so interesting how we find guidance from our parents our entire lives. So sorry to hear about your cancer.

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