So many of our fathers have passed on, but the lessons they taught remain ingrained. I have been blessed to be surrounded by good men from my husband who has been a wonderful father to our 2 children, to my big brother, Doug, to my brothers- in- law, Cliff and Dick, to the first man I ever loved, my dad. Papa Mac was a father figure to so many students and athletes who traversed the halls of Sterling high School.He was hard working, loyal, a strong leader and a role model in his community.
My dad taught me to drive a car, shoot hoops, catch frogs, paddle a canoe, and swim laps. When I was just a hyperactive little kid, he tired of shooing me off the “dangerous” dock. Finally, he reasoned it would safer to teach me to swim than to keep track of my free spirited meanderings near the lake and in the woods.
He held my hand as I stepped off the sandy beach into the icy lake. Together we walked out over my head. While my dad’s strong arms held me afloat, I put my face in the water and blew bubbles. He taught me the crawl stroke, flutter kick and to cup my hands. “Reach forward, pull back.” He helped me master the trickiest part – how to breathe without swallowing half the lake.
Though I never had a near drowning experience, after a bad bike crash and later a debilitating car accident, I became trapped in a body that no longer worked quite right. My hoop dreams disintegrated. My aspirations of skiing down mountainsides and running marathons dissolved. I hung up my high tops, tennis racket, baseball glove; I set aside my football, basketball, volleyball.swimming saved my life
I was condemned to the pool where the buoyancy of the water kept me from further injuring my spine and joints. Early on, I became a has-been athlete plagued with bad feet, bad knees and a broken back. The scars of my past calamities never really left me; the sharp twinges and shooting, throbbing, stabbing aches remained.
But weightless in water, I became pain free.
To an athlete being confined to a pool seemed like a death sentence. Yet, after every misfortune, I retreated to the healing waters. Swimming became my solace, my meditation, my prayer.
As a child I learned to swim at my grandparents Camp Ney-A-Ti on Summit Lake. In my teens, I swam through summers at the old Emerald Hill pool. In adulthood, when pregnant – and ordered to bed rest for 3 months to prevent premature births – I begged the doctor to let me swim. In a Parisian pool, I bonded with my unborn child, gliding in sync alongside the baby kicking inside me.
Over the years, I even saved a few lives as a lifeguard. And I once dragged the semi conscious high school quarterback from the pump room when he became asphyxiated from the chlorine. But the real hero of my swimming story was my dad. He taught me to believe that no matter how rough the seas or how high the waters, I would never sink.
With each stroke of my arm and kick of my leg,Dad thought he was showing me the frog kick, freestyle, and breaststroke, but really he was teaching me how to survive.
As a child, my dad let go, so I could take my first strokes solo. As an adult I swam from one side of the lake to the other.
But after my serious accident this past April I am not sure when I will able to swim again. And I won’t be swimming in my beloved Summit Lake this summer because of the coronavirus Europeans are not allowed to fly to the USA.
Everyday as I struggle in physical therapy to squeeze my hand, raise my left arm over my head and regain the use of the left side of my body, I think of my dad and repeat the mantra he ingrained through hours spent correcting my jump shot, tweaking my swim stroke “Never give up.”
Though separated by the pandemic and my health issues, I can’t visit my dad in person right now, I look forward to seeing him every night when I call on face time and he says.“I sure am proud of you sweetie.You are a real warrior.”
With a twinkle in his blue eyes, he ends every conversation by saying, “I think of you everyday and love you more each minute.”
Though many women will miss being with their daddies on this special day, may we all find comfort knowing a father’s love for a daughter lasts for eternity.
Having been able to know your Dad for so many years, I love learning stories about him even now! Although I miss my Dad every day, I too was blessed to have someone who loved and inspired me.
Yes, we were both very lucky to be raised by strong, loving fathers.
Dear Pat, what a beautiful Father’s Day tribute. Thanks for sharing PaPa Mac with us. How blessed we both are to have had such strong,loving Dads who have made a positive difference in our lives. They are always with us.
|Yes we are blessed to have our lives shaped by strong loving fathers. I know that both of them helped give us courage to face the many health challenges we have confronted.
Great tribute to a great man.
|Thanks Dave. I appreciate your kind words.
Beautiful tribute, brought tears to the eyes of someone who was also blessed to have a wonderful, patient Father.
|Thanks Peggy. I appreciate so much you taking time to write me.
Pat, you’re blessed to still have your dad and to know he’s always got your back. I lost my dad to cancer nearly 12 years ago, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss him. His humor, common sense, encouragement, and love meant everything. With your dad in your corner, I know you’ll heal through this accident. Happy Father’s Day to him and your Frenchman!
|Thanks Debbie. I can imagine how very much you miss your dad. I know I am lucky to have my dad and husband still with me. I appreciate every time I hear his voice and his words still inspire me.
Excellent tribute! Keep up your recovery, and hopefullly you will get back to the calm of Summit Lake in the near future. Blessings to your wonderful parents and your family.
Thanks Joe. I probably won’t get up to the lake this summer but we are hoping that my sister can get my parents up there later in July.
Sorry I missed reading this beautiful tribute to your wonderful dad until now. It has been such an honor getting to know him and the rest of your family. Dads are such important people in a daughter’s life. I miss mine everyday. I often think of him as my hero and I love to tell the story of how I got sent home from school for wearing hot pants (remember those folks?). They were hidden by my mini dress, which I sewed myself, but sneaked out ever so subtly by a front slit. The principal caught sight of me in that outfit and sent me home to change. Dad happened to stop in at the house and asked what I was doing home. I told him the story and he said, “Don’t change. We are going back to talk to the prinicpal.” I got to keep my outfit on all day but had to promise not to wear it to school again. Way to go Dad! I know he is in heaven cheering me on in all I do and whatever it is, he is so proud. We are so fortunate to have strong, caring fathers in our lives. You are blessed to still have yours here.
I loved this story about your dad and I can just picture him defending your right to wear your hot pants to school. I am sure he helped inspire your feisty spirit, a determination that has led you to defend your own rights as well as the human rights of others. Your father may no longer walk this earth, but he is still with you.
Happy Fathers Day. <3