Here we are, another holiday. When you are grieving it seems like there is a holiday every single week. Are the holidays worse than any other day? In a sense, I guess they are for most, but not really for me. The anticipation of the holiday is actually worse than the holiday itself.
What I have found is this, I don’t miss Lindsey or Rick less because it’s a holiday, but because those days remind me of times gone by. That includes good times, vacations, holidays, and all the incredible memories we made before they died. The day is just a day, today is Father’s Day so let’s talk about that.
Rick was a great dad. When we married, I was in school and we had decided to wait on children until I graduated and we got settled financially. I graduated from Johnston-Willis Nursing School in 1977 and took a job on the 6th floor at Chippenham. It was a very busy Med-Surg unit, where I would quickly learn what it was like to be a nurse in every sense of the word.
We were getting settled and I was making a whopping $5.25 /hr. If I passed my Boards I would get $5.50. I did and we thought we had struck gold. Rick was working at Proctor & Gamble as a Sales Rep. and had attended their very elite Sales School. We were “living large”.
I got pregnant pretty quick and Amanda was born on October 7, 1978. So much for waiting for stability. Rick was overjoyed. Now this was when they decided that men should be involved in the the actual birth of their baby, so of course I was all over that. Rick, not so much. Medical stuff made him uncomfortable and he wasn’t sure he could handle it.
For the next 9 months, we both lived in great anticipation of becoming parents. I had a lot of what was termed “morning sickness”, but mine was all day. Rick would cook for me, I would eat, get sick, and eat again. It was a long 9 months. This was also the time when Lamaze, prepared childbirth, was becoming more popular, along with other classes on how to do this “parenting” thing. I dragged Rick to everything I could sign up for. He went along, somewhat reluctant, of what he might see or hear.
When the day came, we entered Chippenham Labor and Delivery the last time as a twosome and in the next 24 hours we became a family of three. It was a long hard day and Rick was by my side every minute. He was my coach and my best friend. I had prepped him for “do whatever you can handle and if you can’t it’s ok”. He never left my side. He did share later that a couple Hershey’s Bars and too much coffee almost took him out, but he rallied and watched the birth of our first daughter, Amanda.
Rick became a huge advocate of men attending the birth of their child and I would hear him giving pep talks to other reluctant dads. We would go through more ups and downs over the next few days and finally brought our baby home 5 days later. Times were different, so this wasn’t unusual. I would have several complications over the next couple weeks, but the one thing that was steady, Rick was by my side every minute.
Life calmed down a bit and we began to live family life. It was fun, it was hectic, it was satisfying, it was ours. It was then, I found out I was pregnant again making them 22 months apart. We can do this right? We were again overjoyed, except I was sick again a lot. Rick was by my side throughout, cooking, helping with Amanda and generally just being a good husband and father.
During the time after Amanda was born, I began working in Labor and Delivery and teaching Lamaze. This was the birth of my passion for the miracle of childbirth. The pregnancy seemed long, but culminated in the birth of another precious baby girl, Lindsey. Things went a little smoother this time. At this time, there was a method being used called LeBoyer in which you would bring the baby into the world with dim lighting, sometimes soft music and lower the newborn into a warm bath immediately after birth. It was called “Birth Without Violence” which sounds a bit dramatic, but it was a huge shift from present practice.
Dr. Crooks placed Lindsey directly in Rick’s arms after birth and he lowered her gently into the warm water, her crying softened and stopped. It was a moment I will never forget. This image is etched on the walls of the maze. At that moment, I remember thinking “Life could never get better than this”. We left a few days later a family of 4.
Life with two children this close in age was challenging I guess, but we embraced it. We made memories doing all the things young families do. Shortly after that we found out we were going to have our third child making them 24 months apart and life got real.
Tiffany was born on September 22, 1982 and arrived with the usual excitement. Rick took her in his arms the first time and leaned down to kiss her on her tiny little lips. She had reddish hair, so now we had a blond, a brunette and a redhead. No explanation necessary, they were ours. We were now a family of five and we were complete. We lived and loved like everyday was our last.
Rick was a daddy in every sense of the word. He changed diapers, kept them when I worked, attended every single program, swim meet, dance recital, horseback riding competition, Birthday party, you name it, he was there. He helped build a swim team and dive team in our neighborhood, even using his BBQ skills to help with fundraising.
You see, Rick had a phenomenal role model, his dad. Robert Perrin, was a great father and set the bar high for his boys. He and his brother were up to the task and have been great fathers as well. They all showed strength, perseverance, integrity, compassion and most of all love. This is what their children feel today.
If you are lucky enough to have a dad in your life, treasure that and tell him how you feel. Don’t take that relationship for granted. If you are a dad, spend time with your kids, doing things that make memories even when you don’t feel like it. Go outside, play Legos, have a tea party, do whatever your children want to connect and show you care. Show love because in the end, love and being loved is what really matters most.
Someday when your loved one walks the maze , let their walls be filled with memories of you and what your relationship meant to them. For today, I’ll walk through and think of Rick and what it was like to watch him love and cherish his children. I’ll remember his journey as he learned how to be a father to three amazing little girls. For everyone, I hope you enjoy today and make more memories to cherish and paper the walls of the maze.