The time I gave up nothing to be with my everything…for love

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When I was little, and well into my teen years I hurled angry, hurtful words at my dad.  “You aren’t my FATHER” I would scream, when he’d try to parent me.  And worse.  As I grew older and matured, though, I started to see clearly and understand.  My dad was my father.  He is my father.  He may not have created me of his own flesh and blood, but who I am and my convictions are directly a result of his parenting- fathering- me.  I was asked to share with you about the Johnson &Johnson  “For All You Love”  campaign- specifically, to write a tribute about someone I love, someone I gave up something for, simply because I love them.

dad and me

When I was 5, it was my dad who taught me how to ride a two wheeler bike.  He made me get back on that bike I don’t know how many times (and goodness, I can’t imagine how his back must have ached by the end of that day from bending over to steady the back with his hands) and try again, Brett, keep TRYING for goodness sake!  When I fell and scraped my knee, my toes, my hands, my face, it was my dad who helped clean my wounds and bandage them.  It was my dad who taught me how to use a hammer.  He taught me the value of a dollar, and while I stubbornly refused to let that knowledge sink in until I learned about debt the hard way, I always did know it, deep down.

When I did stupid stuff  and got in trouble, it was my dad there yelling at me to use my head for something besides a hat rack.  He was there, not accepting the screwups, pushing me to do better and be the person he saw inside.  He was the one to give me consequences that seemed SO unjust, and so cruel, but he was the one who taught me that if and when you do screw up, you WILL have consequences and you have to learn from them.

When I got into a car accident with a friend and had major internal bruising, it was dad who worked from home for three weeks, going to the store to buy me weird foods he’d not heard of but that he knew would comfort me.

As my sister’s life slipped away, I remember my dad looking to see how WE were all doing, because that’s what the right thing to do was. How his heart must have ached, but he took care of us.  Mostly, of me, because I was the youngest and the least able to handle things.

When I got married, it was my dad who gave me away.  When I lost my first pregnancy, devastated beyond words, it was my dad who was just there, letting me grieve.  When my firstborn arrived, my dad drove almost 4  hours to meet the baby and then turned around and drove back home again.  A few days later, he and mom packed up the car with a week’s worth of groceries and supplies and came to   help.

When my mom started her journey through COPD and emphysema, my dad gave up HIS everything.  His retirement, his dreams of season-long Caribbean vacations with her…he gave it all up without a thought.  When I came up twice a month with my little ones, he gave up more of his self to spend time with us, to help me care for them, so that I, too, could spend time with mom.
J&J Campaign Manifesto

When mom died, dad moved to a new town where he knew no one, to be closer to his kids. He gave up his home, his neighbors, his friends, his community, just to be closer. He wanted to be able to easily drive the 90 minutes to see a baseball game, a baptism, a graduation. The shift began about then, where I began to sacrifice and give things up to be with my dad, my everything.

As dad’s ‘forgetfulness’ turned into dementia, and progressed to Alzheimer’s, the tables turned. Thankfully, he moved down here to CT before things got really bad, he could see the road he was heading down and didn’t want to be a burden. The shift was more clear and more prominent now- there weren’t going to be family outings or dad coming to games, they were simply overwhelming for him.  Dad was losing his voice and I (and the rest of my siblings) had to learn to be HIS voice, his champion, his friend.

Very quickly, we fell into a pattern.  Tuesday mornings I went to visit dad.  Sometimes we’d watch a TV show, but often, we’d look at photo albums.  Routine became crucial. Friday mornings, I went with my littlest one to visit dad.  I wanted to spend that time with dad.  Other things could wait.  They had to.

Dad’s decline’s been very steady.  He’s in the early late stages of Alzheimer’s now.  He’s got some heart issues and it’s clear that his time here with us on this earth won’t be prolonged.  There’s no “choice” for me- my dad is my choice.  He’s my DAD.  He’s my FATHER.

I have given up nothing and I’ve given up anything and I’ll give up everything for my dad.  We’ve had late night phone calls and visits to his facility in pajama pants and baseball caps, and I’ve not been at MOPS meetings, I’ve missed helping at the kids’ schools, coffee dates….but when it comes down to it, I’ve given up nothing to be with him.  How can I consider it “something” when he’s my everything?  He’s such a huge part of who I am today, he’s made me the woman, wife, friend, sister, daughter and mother that I am.

Who do you, would you, could you, have you given things up for?  Who do you love like this? 

As part of this campaign, recognizing their commitment to the health and well-being of moms and kids worldwide, J&J is also planning to donate $25K this Mother’s Day to Save the Children®: http://www.savethechildren.org

This is a sponsored conversation with The Motherhood. Opinions are my own.

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About the author: I’m a 30-something mom to three, brand ambassador. content creator, social media maven, blogger extraordinaire, earth lover, butcher, baker, candlestick maker (or something along those lines) – love word games, crafting, cake decorating or shooting pictures.

22 comments… add one

  • He is lucky to have you and you him!

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  • Your dad truly sounds like an amazing person.

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  • Well said Bretty. That’s how I felt about “giving up” stuff for my grandma. I still longingly look at elderly women and wish they were her. I go out of my way to smile at them and offer a hand if they look like they need it. I’m so glad you have this time with your Dad.

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  • Wow! You have an amazing father! It’s so great that he is such a loving person to you, your children, and your mother. It’s very apparent that you are the person you are today due, at least partially, to his love and care for you! You’re a great person! It’s awesome that you can see all the good he has done for you!

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  • OMGosh what a sweet post, I am totally sniffling right now *tears* – your dad sounds like a great person, I want to hug him. Your stories remind me of my grandpa.

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  • That is so beautiful Brett! My step dad has become my dad and I’m so thankful for the time we have right now to live with my parents. Thank you for sharing your story about your dad. Absolutely precious!

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  • A few years ago, I gave up my home, my friends, and the town I loved to move back to where I went to high school. I did it to marry my high school sweetheart after nearly 20 years apart. I also wanted to live closer to my parents. Now, after 2 children, I’m finally ready to give up my career and commute as well. It feels like the final piece to my full commitment to my family. It’s sad sometimes, because I miss a lot of things, but my new life is so fulfilling with my children and I love that I’m close to my parents now. They’re getting older, so I’m glad I can be there for them. I never knew until I had my own family how important that support system is, and I hope to teach that to my kids, too.

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  • <3 This brought a smile to my heart. He sounds like an amazing man! And he's so lucky to have a daughter like you.

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  • What a beautiful story! You brought tears to my eyes.

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  • This is such a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing your heart. I am so thankful that you get to be close to your dad and have all these great memories to hold onto as you walk the road ahead!

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  • My eyes are filled with tears, what a heartfelt story. When we are young and teenagers we all say things to our parents we wish we could take back. I don’t know you, but from what you have written I can tell you love your dad very much and he means the world to you and I am CERTAIN he knows that as well. Beautiful does not even begin to describe this story, thank you for sharing it with us!

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  • I am in tears. You, your dad and your family will be in my prayers. What a wonderful tribute and your words really touched my heart. My dad was my everything too, I was (and always will be) Daddy’s Little Girl… my daddy was one of my very best friends. My dad passed away a year and a half ago, very unexpectedly.. I had spent the whole day with him, he seemed fine and had no complaints. I left about 7:30 because my kids were getting tired and cranky. My mom was visiting her mom & sister (who just came into town the day before), she called me when she got home & found my dad unresponsive… it was too late. I wish I had stayed longer, I wish I’d been there for him that night (like he’d ALWAYS been there for me), I wish he’d said if he wasn’t feeling well, I just wish I would have known.

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  • Aww, Brett! Your story made me cry. What a great daughter you are. :)

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  • What a beautifully written tribute to your father. I could feel your love for him as I read this. How you went from those fretful teenage years to now. How you grew and learned and understood the connection you have with him. Your love shines through, and I think that your family and friends know that this is his time to be cared for, and that you love them just as much – he just needs a little more attention now than they do. You are both so lucky to have each other.

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  • I have tears in my eyes. What a touching post. Your dad sounds like an unbelievable man and lucky to have you, too! <3

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  • Wow, what an incredible post. Thank you so much for sharing such heartfelt memories. I feel like you were telling my story at different times in my life. It is amazing how life changes us, isn’t it…

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  • Oh wow, what an incredible post and story!! Thanks for sharing, this is beautiful!

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  • How wonderful. It’s true and thank you for sharing!

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  • I love all the ways you shared that your dad has shown you love! So sorry for your dad’s declining health!

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  • Oh my gosh Brett-what a beautiful tribute to the love you’ve demonstrated. I have to get the tissues out–I’m so moved by your post. It’s so amazing how time turns the tables and has us realizing the truly important “things’ in life are our relationships. What a fantastic family you have -thank you for sharing such a personal story with all of us. Happy Mother’s Day!

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  • Your story is beautiful! Your dad sounds like an amazing man. You are a great mom, a great daughter, and undoubtedly a great friend.

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    • Thanks Amanda

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