January 27, 2021

A Father’s Day Remembrance

A Father’s Day Remembrance
My Two Dads
By Bart Campbell

I can’t get a handle on all of the things I would like to write about my dad. You see it is exceptionally difficult to build any type of framework around him, as I have two fathers.

There is the father of my childhood, a gruff, forceful, opinionated, arrogant, angry, loving, gentle, and strong man; and there is the father I have now. He is as loving and gentle and thoughtful as any human on this planet. He offers no malice to any man and offers conversation to any person with an ear to hear. I love both of these men deeply.

The father of my child hood was the type of man that you could look up to. He was the type of man that you knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, would quickly give his life for your protection; while at the same time, instilling within you an absolute fear of retribution for sins gone untold. He was a rock. I can remember one instance when my father was so angry (this was a traditional Scottish rage) that he punched a hole in the wall separating the hallway from the bathroom. His fist went through both walls and into the shower area itself. My little brother must have been getting an early shot of testosterone (you know the kind that causes all logical thought to cease synaptic firing), because he took it upon himself to tell my father how “Stupid” what he had just done was. I could see my fathers blood boiling. He looked like he was being transformed into one of the characters from the movie Scanners. His response was classic. Without raising a hand to my brother, he turned toward the broken wall and promptly began to demolish any existing construction that continued to possess any structural integrity. He, then, turned to my little brother (who had regained control of his mouth and was now trying not to urinate on himself) and said ever so quietly, “I guess I will now have to fix the whole wall.” He went to his room and shut the door.

Now don’t get me wrong here, there was not a constant state of tumult at home, just Hiroshima like flashes. My dad almost never missed any sporting event. He was always there. Some of my fondest memories can be gleaned from excerpts of ALL of my football games. I can see my father standing on the sidelines yelling advice, while demonstrating the proper movements. He looked like Pops Racer following the realization that Spridle and Chim Chim had once again stowed away in the Mach 5. But, you know what? That memory is like gold for me. I can remember my dad crying at the end of the Black Stallion. I remember how safe I felt in his massive embraces. I knew, that though the world might falter, my dad would be the one source of safety that I could turn to in any worldly storm. On the night of January 15th, 1990, my world was forever changed. That rock was gone and the man that is now may father was born.

My father had a cerebral aneurysm and several small strokes as a result of the bleed. To that end, there was 10 hours of surgery done to place a titanium clip on the source of the bleed. There was one last commentary concerning my old dad’s personality, when the doctor that performed the surgery came out to give us his prognosis, he said that it took him 6 of the 10 hours of the surgery to cut through my father’s scull. He said, “that man has the hardest scull of any person that I have ever performed surgery on.” To which we responded, “ We could have told you that.”

Part of that surgery meant actually cutting through the right frontal lobe of his brain. The long range result of this were vast changes in personality and the loss of the ability to read, walk, talk, perform logical tasks, or maintain any type of short term memory.

I had become the adult and he had become the child. I made the decision to quit both my job and school. Two days later, I broke up with the girl that I had intended marry. I had convinced his company to train me and allow me to take over his territory. He sold jewelry. So I traveled the southeast with $100K in jewelry and a loaded .380 semi automatic. I did this for 3 months. During that that time, my dad was in rehab.

When I returned from my tour of duty (that’s a joke, I did what I needed to do), it was time to begin to help dad re-assimilate and attempt to regain his former glory. I had no idea how difficult the road that we were on was going to be. I spent my days hanging out with my dad, attempting to provide as much normality as was possible, while trying to engage him mentally. I remember thinking about how helpless he was. I had to accompany him to the bathroom in our house just to make sure he remembered where it was. The peak of the realization that I was now the “adult” occurred when I took my dad to the movies, we went to see Joe Verses The Volcano. During the movie, he had consumed and finished some popcorn and some candy; I watched him while he sat there and ate. He was the shell of the man he had once been. Throughout this whole process, my dad ended up losing a great deal of weight. So, many of his clothes no longer fit properly. As I observed him, I noticed that his baseball cap was only being supported by the tops of his ears and the bridge of his glasses; he looked like a progeria patient. At one point he needed to use the rest room. As always, I accompanied him to the lavatory in order to ensure his safe return to the appropriate theater. Upon our return, he sat down and asked, “Didn’t I have some candy and stuff?” I went home and sat in my room and wept. The decisive and forceful man that was my father was gone.

My father is now the sweetest man you would ever want to know. He is patient, kind, thoughtful, and genuinely concerned with who you are and what is going on in your life. He embodies everything that is good within a human being. The rest of the family could use a good temper tantrum or a strongly decisive opinion every now and again, but it is just not in him. I love my dad. I miss him every day and I look forward to getting back to Somerset to see him and my mom.

An interesting thing was birthed out of this whole process, I became a man. I came to understand what real responsibility was all about. God used the destruction of the man that was once my father to create a new life within me. I’m still growing (just ask my wife, my mom, kids, friends, etc…), but I use this process as the foundation for that which I must learn and to become the man God would have me to be.