When I was a girl, my dad had lots of advice for me, maybe more, even than the average dad because when I was 2, my dad was given a death sentence. He was diagnosed with MS in 1953. The doctors gave him 10 to 12 years; he got 18.
I don’t know the circumstances, but I know that back then, there was not as much knowledge about auto-immune diseases. I’m not sure the term even existed. They knew how MS worked, but not why. There were theories, but no answers, and the only certain diagnosis came in an autopsy. Many other conditions present symptoms similar to MS.
My dad and I were close. We really just simply (beyond loving each other like dad and daughter) we LIKED each other. He encouraged every little interest I had; he encouraged my independent spirit.
Among the advice he gave me was advice about luv. “Make no entangling alliances, MAK. Follow the Monroe Doctrine.” I was seven. What did I know about the Monroe Doctrine? He told me.
Based on his advice, and songs he liked and recommended to me, I suspect my dad was disappointed in love. He’d married my mom and that was enough to disappoint anyone. She remains to me a mysterious creature who seems to have had a bitter love/hate relationship with pretty much everything, especially with those who loved her most.
Two of the songs are “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine” by Gale Garnett and “Lemon Tree” by Peter Paul and Mary. I don’t know how many dads tell their daughters to follow the messages contained in these songs.
I’ve been cleaning out the garage believing that I would end up having to have the thing pulled down and rebuilt. I’m happy that is not the case. In the cleaning, I’ve found some surprising things. Yesterday, in a little old leather notebook my dad gave me in which to keep my poems, I found tucked and hidden away, two poems of his. I believe he wrote them to me. Both of them are advice for me, how to live my life when he is no longer with me.