I haven’t always had the greatest relationship with my Dad. For many years it felt like it was based more on competition than anything else. When I started to run in Junior High, he started to train… I would love to be able to write that my Dad has seen me swim in the last 20 years but that hasn’t happened nor will it at this point in time. He hasn’t been to a race or swim be it local, national or abroad. I have never figured out why.
But there are little memories that make my Dad, my Dad. These are the ones I cherish. I was hospitalized at age 10 for pulling my muscles in my stomach during a race and he would bring me boysenberry shakes. Dad and I both love our berries with strawberry ice cream (with real strawberries) being a favorite of both of us. When I had my thyroid removed at 15 my Dad again brought boysenberry shakes. When the doctor asked me if I wanted to be discharged early, it was my Dad that was there and took me home. It felt like we were sneaking into a movie or something. We share a love of science fiction books and martial arts movies. When I moved from swimming to competing in Judo, my Dad took me to a few tournaments. I think because it was different but it was cool.
After I went back to swimming and after every long swim, it was my Dad I called first, from Tampa to Loch Lomond, from Tampa to Manhattan, from Lake Tahoe to the Channel. I always call my Dad because he asks me to so he knows I lived. I don’t know what who I will call now and in the future and that is a pain beyond my ability to vocalize it.
Speaking of talking with my Dad, it was my Dad that had the talk with me before I left for England and the Channel. He called me into his room and sat me down. His words were:
“Laura, you will make it or you won’t but make sure you leave everything you have in the water. Come back knowing that you gave it your all France or bust. I'm proud of you but give it your all”
That was the only time I remember him saying he was proud of me even though I had felt it before and I hadn’t even swam yet. He gave me the knowledge at that time that even if I failed, he would still love me. And after the Channel, it was my Dad I called on the boat…..
I’m living each day knowing I’m a little closer to saying a final goodbye to my Dad and still I wonder who I’m going to call next time…..