There’s an old, unkempt orchard beside my house where long grass grows high and is sprinkled with the purple, yellow and white of clovers, buttercups and daffodils. When I was little, and the grass was about as high as I was tall, my dad would, after spending an hour in the hot sun cutting the rest of our grass, take the time to cut windy paths through the grass and my brothers and I would spend all day running through the fields, playing out exciting adventures from our heads.
In the evenings, if the weather permitted, my dad would make a campfire in the backyard where we would roast marshmallows and hotdogs, and we would spend the evening sitting by the fire, our clothes and hair holding the smoky, firewood smell long after the fire was gone.
After a long day of these outside adventures, we would cuddle on the couch and my dad would read us bedtime stories- often repeating our favourite ones by request. Many of them he has read so many times that even now, about twelve years after the fact, he can recite Dr. Seuss lines flawlessly. Once the stories were finished, he would give each of us a piggy back up the stairs to our beds, even after we got just a little bit too big for piggy backs.
My dad remained a solid figure in my life as I grew. In the 20 years I've lived, he has always been able to make me giggle with his silly faces and goofy jokes. My dad is always singing around the house, a lot of classic rock and songs from the 70’s and 80’s when he was growing up, and he always seems to have a song for any word or situation that comes up (example: we named my cat Cinnamon, so of course my dad will burst into his own rendition of ‘Cinnamon Girl’ when we mention her name).
When I was diagnosed, my mom took on most of the responsibility of my diabetes, including testing me every night at 2am. But she found it very difficult to fall asleep again after testing me, and combined with the stresses of work and being a mother of 3 busy kids, she relinquished the night time duty to my dad. I’m not quite sure when my dad started testing me at night, but in the 9 years that I’ve had diabetes, I think he’s been doing it for about seven. Seven years of not once sleeping through a single night. Seven years of waking me up and making sure I drink juice when I’m low, even on the nights where I’m still half asleep and try to give back the juice after taking only a little sip. Seven years of making sure I give the right amount of insulin when my 2am blood sugar is on the high side. Seven years of a huge and tiresome responsibility. Seven years of being my 2am Daddy.
In two years time I’ll be moving out, braving grad school with my own place, and setting numerous alarms to make sure I wake myself up at 2am which means that after a decade of 2am alarms, my dad will finally get a chance to sleep through the night.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Thanks for my beautiful childhood memories, for always managing to make me smile, and for the 2am juice and crackers we've shared.