Sunday, June 19, 2005
Faith of Our Fathers
In order to secure our own children's future we have no choice but to contribute to a common destiny for all children. . .

Quincy Jones, Composer

I hope all fathers enjoyed a special day with their children today (and vice versa). And if you couldn't be together in person, at least I hope you were together at heart. I was blessed with a wonderful, gentle, and loving father who taught me so much about the important things in life: being a good person, treating others with respect, to always do what is right, and not to be afraid of hard work. Thinking of my father's example and the faith he raised me with always reminds me of a very old (1849) hymn, Faith of Our Fathers: "Faith of our fathers, we will love/Both friend and foe in all our strife;/And preach Thee, too, as love knows how/By kindly words and virtuous life." (I used to sing the heck out of this hymn because it was one of the few in my range. I really didn't know what "dungeon, fire, and sword" referred to in the first verse, but once again, I digress. . .).

One of my favorite memories of my father was during the summer when I was around eleven (give or take a year). My sisters (all older than me) were off doing things older sisters do and I was bored. My dad had decided to paint the white picket fence that circled our property. One day he sat on a stool on one side of the fence and worked his way down until he finished the can of paint. The next day he sat on the other side of the fence and worked until he finished the can ending at roughly the same place he stopped the prior day.

I decided he could use my help and begged him to let me help. So we sat together, he on the outside of the fence and I safely on the inside of the fence, and painted in unison until we finished the can of paint. Each afternoon we painted until we finished the entire fence. At first our discussion was about prepping the surface and proper brush technique. Sometimes we sat in silence working away. Other times he would listen to me blab on endlessly about things or answer whatever questions I asked. In my memory this was sacred time that I shared with my father. It was only a few years later that my father passed away.

Flash forward to July 29, 2004, my first day of chemo. My plan was to get up, get dressed, pack a bag, drive twenty minutes to my sister's house, drop off my bag and have her take me to chemo by 8:15 a.m. My plan was to stay with her until I would return to work on Monday morning. I was apprehensive the night before not knowing how the chemo would make me feel or how my body would react. I tried not to think about it, I brought boring trade journals from work hoping to fall asleep reading; however, sleep was elusive. I nodded off from time to time in a restless sleep throughout the night.

As the morning light streamed into my house I opened my eyes slightly to see my father standing in the doorway. He had on check pants, a polo-style shirt, his work jacket, glasses, and a cap. He looked like he was all ready and dressed for work or to go somewhere. As this registered in my mind, I closed my eyes and slowly opened them again to see him still standing there. He didn't say a word or move. He just stood there watching over me. I calmly closed my eyes and knew that everything would be okay. I rolled over, got out of bed walking passed the place where he earlier stood, got dressed, packed my bag and drove to my sister's house. When they took my vitals at the doctor's office, my blood pressure was 110/70. The nurse was shocked and said that usually on the first treatment day, most people have really high numbers from nerves. I calmly said that everything was going to be all right.

Thanks for looking out for me, Dad.

Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
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Name: Jeannette
Location: Southern California, USA

This is my story about being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39. I thought I was out of the woods, but four years late it came back. This is my quest to be a two-time survivor.

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