Learned physicians, degreed and licensed, have pondered and considered and tested and probed. They have watched over my Dad during a massive heart attack. They have measured heart tissue damage, estimated blood flow restrictions, and calculated blockages and valve functions.
These esteemed doctors have run my Dad through electrocardiograms, treadmill tests, thallium heart tests, ultrasound probes, heart catheterizations, and extensive blood work.
They have rushed him into open heart surgery to strip veins from his leg to bypass in 5 places, blocked arteries in his heart. There are reams of papers, charts and lab reports to prove that what they say is true. My Dad's heart is bad. I've listened and tried to understand, but somehow I doubt what these doctors have to say. What do they know of this father of mine? How can they measure with meters and dials, the quality of my Dad's heart? How can I possibly believe the data which glows out from those high tech diagnostic screens?
Where were these doctors while I was growing up with my Dad? Were they around when I was a little girl and our puppy was run over by a car? My Dad was the one who had to pick her furry broken body from the street and lay her under a bush to shade her.
He was the one who had to find the shoe box to place her into. He was the one who had to drive her to the vet for burial. He's the one who had to be strong to comfort my Mom and me. I remember thinking even then, "Poor Dad doesn't even get a chance to grieve. He's the one who has to take care of all the awful stuff."
Did they see him when he helped me learn to ride my first bike? Were they there when my Dad taught me how to drive? Did they get to see him when his hand slammed down with righteous indignation onto the new car hood when the car salesman tried to raise the price of my first new car?
Did they see my dad the night my car sputtered to a stop in a desolate spot alongside the freeway leaving me stalled without gas, when he magically appeared out of nowhere to rescue me after miraculously and by mere chance spotting me from across eight crowded lanes of highway?
Where were these doctors when my Dad's job took him all over the country? Did they see him run frantically off that plane after a grueling business trip to race wildly to my high school football game so as not to miss my Drill Team performance? Did they see the man all out of breath with the sweat dripping down onto his good business suit, sitting in the stands filming his daughter during her routines? Could they have seen the pride in his face?
Did these doctors watch my Dad dig his toe into the carpet and tear up as the two of us waited, in tuxedo and bridal gown, for the music to begin at my wedding? Do they have any idea what he looked like as he held my baby daughter just minutes after her birth?
Do they realize how often he gave to me; how generous he was? Don't they know about the airline tickets he sent to my husband and me during a particularly rough spell financially? How I protested, telling my Dad that I really should be old enough to afford to pay my own way when he simply replied, "No, I can afford this. Just come home."
Can't they hear his voice soften when he talks to me? Don't they realize how he always gave me the benefit of the doubt? Can they see that he was always on my side? Don't they know how often I have gone to my Dad with a problem and have come away without one?
They couldn't have been there when I moved out on my own for the first time, leaving our family home. All day I had packed and loaded and my Dad had struggled moving mattresses and furniture up flights of stairs to my new apartment.
When finally night fell and I had packed the last load of my belongings into my car, my Dad and I stood tentatively at the front of the house near the mailbox. I thought suddenly of one last matter. "Dad," I said, "I have some mail that will probably still come here. I haven't notified everyone yet." My Dad paused and wistfully replied, "Well, maybe you shouldn't change your mailing address just yet, because you might be back."
I knew I would not be coming back, and Dad knew it too. I was off to begin a life of my own as he would want me to do. Only now, looking back over the years do I finally realize that I do indeed keep coming back over and over again; back to his love, his approval, his wisdom, his kindness, his generosity, his advice, and most of all, to his very, very good heart. Could it be, that I know something about my Dad's heart that even the doctors do not know?
Michele Switzer Squires