My dad is the third child of 10. The first set of children to be born were twins. Unfortunately, they passed away shortly after birth. When they were born, hospital buildings weren't all connected the way they are now. Today, we have corridors, elevators and bridges to get from one department to another. Back then, the nursery was not attached to the main hospital, so after the babies were delivered, they had to be taken outside to go to the nursery. It was February in Baltimore so it was cold. The babies got sick and ended up passing shortly after.
My parents have been married for 39 years. They have been together for 45 years. That is a loooong time. Relationships don't last like that anymore. Anyway, my mom met my dads mom before she met him. My grandmother and my mom worked together in the kitchen area at Johns Hopkins Hospital. My mom started working there when she was 17. My grandmother was in her 30s. They became fast friends. You know how those work friendships be lol. They started hanging out outside of work. They went to clubs and shows together. Sometimes they would stay out all night together and then go straight to work. There was a small couch in the break room. They would fight over who would lay down for a nap. One day, my grandmother mentioned that her sons were having a house party over the up coming weekend. My grandmother had 5 sons and 3 daughters. She told my mom she should go. My mom agreed. Saturday came fast. My mom went over to the house. She met my dad and as they say, "the rest is history"! They dated for a bit and got married. Two years after marriage, I was born. It was the best day of their lives I'm sure lol. Two years, four months and 18 days after I was born, my brother got here. I guess they felt that their family was complete with just two children: one boy and one girl.
My parents are still married to this day. I am now and have always been a daddy's girl. My mom told me that when I was born, My dad followed the nurses around making sure nothing happened to "his baby". My dad would have tea parties with me. We would put cheese curls on my Little Mermaid plastic plates and put Lipton iced tea in our little cups. I found out I had asthma at my 8th birthday party. I couldn't even blow out the candles on my cake. Like a typical child, I didn't want my parents to end my party early to take me to the emergency room. They cut it anyway of course. By the time we got to the hospital, my breathing had gotten much worse. My dad put me on his back and carried me to the door. At this time, the Johns Hopkins children's emergency room door was at the top of a hill. It was a nice walk. Come to find out, not only did I have asthma, but I also had pneumonia. I ended up staying in the hospital for a full week. It was quite the experience for an 8 year old. My mom stayed just about every night because I was scared to be alone. My dad would come up after work and stay as long as he could. My little brother was 6 at the time. My dad would drop my brother to my grandma because he was too young to come visit me.
Fast forward to age 17. One day I look at my dad and notice his jaw was a little swollen. He said he had noticed it too. He said it was an infected tooth. My mom called our family dentist for an appointment. My dads jaw seemed to have doubled. It was now twice the size of the other side. It had grown like that in maybe a week. From the day I saw it, to the day of his appointment was when this rapid growth occurred. Crazy right? I thought so. We go into the dentist office. The dentist takes my dad to the back and orders an x-ray. After some time, the dentist comes out to us with a look on his face. He looked panicked, but was trying to hide it. He tells us to go straight to the emergency room. Like, he said don't go home first, straight to the hospital. We all like, whats wrong, is my dad ok? The dentist smiled awkwardly and walked away. Great. This was the beginning of the worst part of my life.
We pull up to the emergency room and park. It was like they were waiting for us. As soon as we walked in, my dad was taken to the back. I guess the dentist had forwarded the results to the hospital. My mom and I sat in the lobby and waited. After about 20 minutes or so maybe, the same doctor that was waiting for us at the door came out and walked over to us. He had a large envelope in his hand. He pulled out some x-ray films. Apparently, my dad did not have an infected tooth. He had a tumor that had eaten a hole through his lower jaw bone.
"What?!?! " I blurted out.
The doctor continued on to say that my dad would be admitted to the hospital so that surgery could be performed to remove, then biopsy the tumor to see if it is cancerous. 'My dad. The strongest guy I knew. He was like superman. How could this happen? Things were fine a week ago!" were some thoughts that ran through my mind. We went to the hospital as a trio: me, mom and dad. Only two left to go home. The ride home was long and my heart and head was so heavy. My dad, my favorite man in the world could have cancer. Cancer kills people. If they don't die, the treatments are horrible.
I got up and got on the bus to go to school as I did everyday. The school day was a blur. I was just existing, kinda like being on auto-pilot. School ends and I'm back on the bus on my way home. It was a sunny day. The temperature was mild so I wasn't wearing a coat, just some jeans and a t-shirt. I walk into the house and my mom is on the couch. Usually, my mom is in the kitchen watching tv and making dinner.
"Daddy died mom? Please don't tell me that!!" I screamed.
"No baby, your dad is alive. I do need to to talk to you though, so come here and sit down." my mom said as she patted the spot next to her on the couch.
I sat down, but I already knew what she was gonna say. If my dad didn't die, he has cancer. I said my thoughts out loud. My mom confirmed. My head and heart exploded simultaneously. His treatment plan consisted of having radiation and chemo therapy directly in his mouth. My dad was still a superhero to me so in my eyes, he was just gearing up to fight the biggest fight of his life and I was gonna be there every step of the way...