In the summer of 1999 my daddy was diagnosed with cancer. Until you've heard those words you can't really know what you feel. My daddy was lucky that it was the slowest growing cancer there is and NOT lucky that after his surgery they couldn't say "you are cancer free" because they removed all they could and still found cancer cells in the margin. Fortunately through medical science, research and good doctors I still have my daddy 20 years later.
There was a lesson, a life lesson, for me in that I have treasured every single day I get to have my daddy still here with our family as a gift.
When my daddy got his diagnosis it was still summer and my parents had planned a vacation. It was a BIG vacation. They were driving across the country to visit my aunt and uncle in Montana and my mom didn't want to go. However my daddy thought at the time that it just might be his last chance to see as much of the country as he was about to see decided to go. And while parts of it were the vacation from hell ... their car died, they left a a hotel in the middle of the night because they didn't feel safe there... they also go to see so much of the country. IT was the National park tour of the country when they saw old faithful, the redwood forest and the grand canyon among others.
And on the morning of 11/11/99 I took my daughter to school and drove to the hospital. My daddy went into surgery and we waited... and we waited... and waited. And while the news wasn't the one the hoped for, my daddy has spent the last 20 years on a medication that has allowed him to survive. He got to see Abigail grow up, get married, he got to walk me down the isle again when I married my Donald, he's had 20 more years with my mom, he got to build a new house 9 years ago, he got to see his granddaughter graduate from high school and college and get married and two years ago he became a great granddaddy. GIFT. GIFT. GIFT. GIFT. Everything that my daddy gets to experience is another gift. So my veteran daddy got the gift of longer life on Veteran's Day 1999 and now we always really celebrate.
But it also changed my life and my attitude about EVERYTHING. And while I certainly am not grateful that my daddy has cancer. I am ever so grateful for the life lesson to live every moment as if it could be your last. I take those vacations, I spend time with family, I have my priorities in order... GOD, family, friends then work.