For my dad, his world was turned upside down. His family gone and he moved to Boise from Twin Falls, Idaho. He started a new job. For six months he lived in a hotel and then he bought a mobile home.
For my dad and me, our relationship changed dramatically. I didn't really know my dad until I was eight. Before that he worked all the time and when he wasn't working, the relationship with my mom and dad was caustic at best.
After the divorce and when dad moved to Boise, he literally had to deal with me. We loved each other, but we were essentially strangers.
But suddenly, he had a kid every other weekend that he had to entertain because of visitation rights.
He did not have a clue about how to entertain eight-year-old boy. We watched a lot of TV and we went to a lot of drive-in movies.
But we cherished those memories. He taught me a lot. He taught me to barbecue (Dad was a much better cook than Mom!), make wonderful scrambled eggs, enjoy old movies, a love history, respect our ancestors, a love of old cars, taught me to draw, and instilled a love of politics. And he had an enviable wit.
When I started to drive, I would take my dad to Kalispell, Montana to visit family. Those were some of my best times with my dad.
At 63 years old my dad was diagnosed with liver cancer. The death of parent is awful but I'm so glad I had time to spend with my dad when he was dying. Nothing was left unsaid.
One night my dad told me that one of his biggest regrets was that he will never see my children. When he said that, he seemed to cry a little bit.
But there was no child in my horizon at that point. It wasn't until I was 43 that I had the experience to have a son. I often think about my dad wondering about a lot of things.
When my second stroke happened, I was carried through the hallways in the bowels of the hospital to have another brain scan.
I just knew that my dad was there telling me that I would be okay. I don't know how I knew that but I had a vivid memory of that. And he had been dead almost 20 years.
Really my relationship with my dad started when I was eight years old. And it was a great relationship.
So now my son is eight years old. I think about my son and our relationship.
The stroke had to have affected him in so many ways that I don't really know yet.
It took me several months to recover to the point that he would really talk to me. It helped that I could write a bike several months after the stroke.
Every day things mean a lot to me now because I realize how life is precious. I treasure the memories I'm making with my son.
This morning, my eight-year-old son crawled in my lap when he awoke. Ethan said, “Daddy, Can we watch cartoons together?"
My dad and I used to watch “Looney Tunes” all the time. And my son loves “Looney Tunes” also.
Is it coincidental that “Looney Tunes” helped repair the relationship with my father and it is helping repair my relationship with my son? The generational thing? I don't know.
My son, Ethan Stanford, was named after my dad, Stanford. I miss my dad.