If you’re unfamiliar with the title of today’s featured story, it’s because this week’s Fairy Tale Friday is dedicated to a real person…my dad (better known as Poppa since the arrival of the first grandchild 21 years ago!). Just like the heroes in many bedtime stories, my father has always been larger than life. But how does that make his life a fairy tale? There are definitely several similarities.
HE IS VERY WISE. He always knows the answers when we come to him for advice, no matter what the issue at hand. Not only is he smart about life circumstances and in a “common sense” sort of way, but he’s a certified genius when it comes to book smarts. Dad knows a lot about many things, and he knows at least a little about anything else out there. Throw any topic at him and he can start a conversation of substance about it.
HE IS MAGICAL. Or at least as kids we all thought our childhood was magical. From finding special prize eggs at the annual easter egg hunt (courtesy of Dad’s sister-in-law who always had a convenient eye twitch when we got near one of the hidden, glittery ones), to the Japanese song he’d learned while stationed in the Far East while in the Navy (and the lyrics magically changed every time he sang it to us!), to the ultimate trick which I can only refer to cryptically as ”Going on a Boulie Ride”. It was the ultimate disappearing act and to this day his children don’t know exactly how he pulled it off (and prefer it that way).
HE IS MUSICAL. Show me a fairy tale that doesn’t have a traveling minstrel, a singing animal or bird, or some other character who breaks into song at random moments. Yeah, my dad does that too. Whether singing from the pew in church, gathered by the piano at home while Mom plays, while playing a friendly game of pool with his grandkids, or even on the job, Dad is never without a song in his heart – and usually it’s on his lips and out of his mouth. Anyone who knows him will tell you he loves to sing. Even better, he has a beautiful voice. Elvis had nothing on Dad (and my aunt actually knew Elvis, so how’s that for a random fact?).
But before you begin to think our lives have been too perfect, let me point out yet another similarity between my father and a fairy tale.
HE’S STRUGGLING AGAINST A VILLAIN. In fairy tales, it is often a wicked witch, a troll or giant, or some other foe. In my dad’s case, it is cancer. His recent diagnosis has been so hard to accept, in large part because he seemed invincible (also like the heroes in fairy tales). But this is a struggle many face, and while the outcome is often sad, there are also some amazing tales of recovery. As my sister pointed out this week, any time you read about the percentage of survivors, even if it is a very small number, it still represents someone who beat the odds and lived. And there is no reason Dad can’t stay focused and wake up every day with the attitude that he will be one of those good statistics. We have already seen that humor will be a big part of every day from here on out. Whether it’s laughing as we reminisce about the “old days”, or Dad – being so typically Dad - making his “dead man walking” jokes (or “gallows humor” as my brother calls it), a laugh is still a laugh. And the Bible says a merry heart does good like a medicine. We can use all the medicine we can get now.
Finally, HE’S MY HERO. All fairy tales need a hero. And all daughters love their daddies. He might not be perfect, but he’s always thought I was. He might have made mistakes, but he has always tried to help me avoid them. He respects my desire to make my own decisions, but all I’ve ever had to do was ask and he would share his wisdom with me when I faced my toughest ones.
I love you Dad, and I’m there for you every step of the way. And you are surrounded by all of those who love you most, and we’re in this together.