I have the most amazing father. I came across a picture of him recently in his uniform when I was about 8. I remember him looking like that as if it were yesterday!
When I was about eight years old, I was running around barefoot in our family room and a sewing needle went into my big toe and broke off inside. It eventually started to cause a nasty infection, and it was horribly painful. My traumas always came to a head in the middle of the night. Like when my little brother, Joey, dropped a coffee can full of pollywogs on my other big toe, and I had to go to the emergency room to have the toenail sliced open to relieve the pressure. I still remember thrashing around in my bed in pain, and hearing Mom say, 'Gary, you're going to have to take her to the hospital.' No! Because we were military, Dad donned his officer's uniform and took me into the emergency room at the hospital in Oakland. An x-ray showed the nasty thing sitting inside my toe, growing gange green and who knows what else.
I was admitted to the hospital children's ward full of crying, scared kids who were all having surgery of some sort. All of us were laying in these oversize cribs - not only scared, but completely humiliated. They had all these stupid rules to make the experience as painful as possible: no visitors after 7:30 p.m., no snacks, nothing but water to drink, nothing but broth for dinner. What was this? Prison?
Anyway, on the night before my surgery, I was laying there crying and picking the paint off of my crib (probably containing lead) when I looked up to see a handsome officer in his navy blue dress uniform walk in the door. I'm pretty sure that every mother sitting in that room turned and watched him walk in - he was just that impressive. He sat down next to me and talked to me until I calmed down. He said prayers with me before he left, and I felt better.
As I turned on my side to go to sleep that night, my hand felt something strange under my pillow. I knew instinctively that I'd better not let the nurses see what it was or they'd take it, and had to wait until the lights were out for the night and the rest of the screamers had gone to sleep so that I had some privacy.
My heart pounding in anticipation, I slipped a roll of butter rum lifesavers out from under my pillow - Dad's favorite! Wow, he loved me so much! Afraid that the nurses would confiscate my stash, I ate the entire roll, and hid the paper debris inside the pillowcase.
Next morning was surgery day. When I woke up from anesthesia, I barfed my guts out into a plastic barf pan. It smelled like butterscotch.