Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Living Reminder

Gina grew up believing her father loved her, but his withdrawn and gruff nature made it such that she reassured herself of that love more often than he did.

The kind of dad who was often in a bad mood after coming home from work, what he wanted to do most was have dinner and then relax watching TV. Gina knew that he worked hard and was tired at the end of the day, but she needed more from him than she was getting. Their relationship was strained even in its best moments.

Yet, there were times when he let a hint of softness show through. He knew the words of one song and occasionally sang to Gina. Although he sang terribly off key, in those moments his voice was music to her ears. That was when he was the dad she dreamed of. She had only that song, but it helped get her through the times when she questioned if he loved her as much as she hoped.

Everything about their relationship changed in a way Gina couldn’t have imagined the evening she came home with her boyfriend and told her parents she was pregnant.

Expecting her dad to go into a rage before kicking her out of the house, she braced herself. Instead, he looked at her and calmly said, “Whether it is a boy or a girl, I expect you to name the baby after me.”

His name was Fuston. When his own father was born his name was supposed to be Houston, but the doctor who delivered him was drunk and wrote Fuston on the birth certificate by mistake. The name stuck and was passed down to Gina’s dad.

Fuston stood, reached for his daughter and hugged her. From that point forward, he became the dad she had always wanted.

Fuston accompanied Gina to all her prenatal appointments, provided her with financial support, and more importantly, abundant emotional support. His loving attention and protection began to fill the void she had endured all the previous years.

When his granddaughter, Ariel, was born and her father was nowhere to be found, it was Fuston who abruptly retired and became Gina’s nanny, cook, and housekeeper, all at once. Her dad, the man who always depressed her as a child, was now the one who lifted her spirits and kept her going. All those years of hurt were healed in a matter of months as he showed her everyday how much he loved her.

When Ariel became a toddler her grandparents needed to relocate to another state. By then Gina saw the need to rely less on her parents, so she stayed behind with her child and set out to make it on her own. In the beginning she didn’t have a telephone, nor cable or antennae for her television. Fuston taped her favorite shows and sent them by mail each week, along with pre-paid calling cards and other goodies in a nearly overstuffed care package.

A few years later Gina’s parents moved again, this time to be nearer to their grandchild. During the move, Fuston injured himself. It was discovered he was in the final stages of cancer, and he died only five months later.

Gina feels her father’s absence everyday, but she also finds comfort in remembering that when she needed him the most, her dad was there for her after all.

Ariel is now fourteen years old. When she is moody or does something that reminds Gina of her dad, she calls her daughter “Fustonette,” just as her dad had asked her to.

1 comment:

SugarScribes said...

A touching story. My dad just celebrated his 80th birthday and he appears to have aged ten years. I have this feeling in my gut that his time is short and I find myself wishing we had spent more time together. I cannot make up for all the years i was too busy, but at least I am spending time with him now and not writing this after his death. Hopefully more adult children will recognize the mistakes made and mend fences before it is too late. My dad always showered us with gifts. My sisters and I used to say
" So much money spent; his time never leant." My dad has been the perfect grandfather to my kids (probably because he is too old to travel and golf) but I wish I had just a fraction of the childhood memories they will treasure forever.

I love your inspirational stories. Glad I was able to make you laugh (My post about your book)
Take care,
Melissa