Today was Father’s Day.  We celebrated my sweetheart and the way he parented all our children — the ones who carry his DNA and those who do not.  We celebrated the legacy of Father’s Day — how all that he had handed down through his words and deeds had taken root in his sons and now are being handed down to their unsuspecting offspring, just as generations of fathers have handed down their legacy to the next generation.

Amid all the celebration, I observed a different sort of Father’s Day this year.  Yesterday, when my younger sister paid a visit to our parents, she found my father unable to form words, staring blankly, and generally not being himself.  She asked him to squeeze her hand, and was shocked to find out that he could only grasp with one hand.  The call went out that it appeared that Dad had had a stroke.  I sat perched on the edge of my chair, waiting for the phone call that required my presence 15oo miles from home.  Instead, the calls that followed indicated that what Dad had experienced was a TIA, a mini-stroke, that cleared quickly and soon found him returned to the state he was before his incident.

Yesterday, I wondered whether we would celebrate Father’s Day this year.  I thought maybe last year’s celebration had been our last; but I was wrong.  Although the TIAs have continued, my Dad is being helped right in his own home.  Hospice has extended their coverage of his condition to around-the-clock nursing.  We are thankful for these dedicated nurses and volunteers who bring great insight as well as medical treatment.

As the day drew to a close tonight, I had a sudden urge to call my dad and hear how he was feeling.  When I called, a nurse named Betty tole me that Dad was in bed.  She checked to see whether there was a phone near his bed.  There was not.  “Give me your phone number,” she told me; and I’ll call you back.  That way I can put my phone on speaker and you can talk to your dad.  She did just that — not a requirement of her job, but a random act of human kindness.  I don’t know who Betty is, but I do know that she made my day.

When I thought that maybe we would not have the chance to celebrate Father’s Day, I tried to think of what would make my dad happy.  There was no need to plan for an extravagant party or do anything to remind Dad that he is ninety-two years old.  Instead, I had the good fortune of meeting up with a nurse who takes her hospice care seriously.  With humble heart, I give thanks for Betty, who took the time to make a conversation happen.  Betty, you matter — more than you’ll ever know.