Happy 70th, Dad!

In honor and celebration of my father's 70th birthday (and because I totally failed to get a card and gift off in time and am hoping this will do!) I wanted to share a story that illustrates what it was like growing up with my dad.

This story took place two days ago. We were on our way home from the gym. Madeline and Lily were sitting side by side when Madeline shared a concern with me.

"Mom, whenever I bend my arm like this, it really hurts," Madeline said as she bent her fist up towards her shoulder, flexing her bicep.

Without missing a beat, five year old Lily looked at her and said, "Well, then don't bend it like that, Madeline." (She might as well have included a great big "DUH!" at the end given the way she said it.)

I wanted to ask: "Dad? Is that you? How are you possessing my child while you are still alive and well down in Gatorland?"

But that is EXACTLY what it was like living with my dad: a doctor by profession but a comedian kid at heart. He was the best doctor I ever had, so long as I wasn't sick or injured. (Just teasing, dad.)

Ask him if some procedure will hurt and to this day his response will be, "No, it won't hurt me a bit." (I am just positive that one day he might regret telling a patient that....surely some clown will make him eat those words mid-procedure.....surely....)

At any rate, I can recall being a child and telling him that my (insert any body part here) hurt when I touched it "like this" (or some other lame complaint) and his exact response would be, "Well then don't do that." If I asked him if I was going to die he would always answer with a resounding: "Yes (PAUSE) but not because of this." And while he was constantly using humor to negate our complaints, illnesses and ailments, it really did wonders. I'd ask him what the medication he was giving me would do: "Will it make me sick?" I always wanted to know and he would tell me something like: "Not any sicker than you already are," or "No, but it might turn your hair green," and other such things. (By the time I was 10, I insisted on reading the informational insert on ever medication from start to finish before taking anything he gave me. And truth be told, I still do. A good, albeit paranoid, habit if you ask me. Thanks, Dad!)

And because he didn't panic when my temperature once hovered in the 104-105 degree range and I was somewhat hallucinating on the kitchen floor with my mom holding my half limp body while trying to fill me with fluids and Tylenol, I know that my kids will be okay when they feel like they're on fire and it takes all I have just to keep them hydrated and medicated.

And then there was the time he told my mom over the phone how to tie up my brothers hair in order to close up a head laceration and she did it. And it worked. And because of that I now know that all that blood is not that big of a deal. And even the random head laceration will be okay so long as you stay calm and put on enough pressure. And get it closed up, although I admit we prefer the somewhat more traditional ER-trip method....

And I loved the fact that he gave me my own medical bag to really play doctor with. It included a real stethoscope, bandages and band-aids, splints, gauze and medical tape, ear drops, chewable Vitamin C, children's aspirin and Dimetapp. Best imagination-play ever! My father is a wee bit crazy and perhaps a little unorthodox in spots but somehow it is the perfect pairing as he is truly an amazing physician. And thanks to him I was the healthiest kid, the least likely to have a heart attack and slept really well, no coughing whatsoever! (No, no, I'm just kidding. He was even good about making sure I was responsible with my play-meds. At 5 years of age. No joke.)

But my all-time favorite dad-doctoring moment was the time I was sucking on an ice cube and I accidentally sucked it into my esophagus and swallowed it whole. Not only did it hurt like the dickens, but it left me with the sensation that there was something lodged in my throat and I panicked. I called my father at work and told him what had happened, sure that my prognosis was dismal. My dad didn't even pause before asking all the right questions to assure me he understood the issue and then with a perfectly serious voice told me that the cure for swallowing ice cubes was to take another ice cube and rub it on my bellybutton FOR TEN MINUTES.

Yes, yes he did.

And I did just that. Reddest belly you ever saw. And I guess it really worked because I am sitting here writing a happy birthday post just a few weeks later and my throat feels just fine! (Ok, so it's been closer to three decades later....sigh. Time flies. And it ain't the Goodyear Blimp unfortunately!)

So, with that, I just want to say thanks dad! I'm a terrific fixer-upper for my own kids because of you. You, a little humor, and Tylenol. Oh, and band-aids. And, of course, ice cubes.....

Happy Birthday!

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