It is 5 AM and dark as the nights come. I have all my house lights on and I am up drinking coffee and listening to a morning radio show. There is an abrupt knock upon my backdoor. Maggie comes furiously tearing out of my bedroom barking up a storm. I cautiously walk to the backdoor to look out thinking it would be George on one of his early morning hung over escapades. I picked up my wallet as I walked by my curio in anticipation of him asking for twenty dollars. To my surprise, it is my father. My heart races in anticipation of bad news. He is never up this early in the morning and I fear the worst. It is also pouring down rain.
“What are you doing up so early?” He asks as I swing my backdoor open.
He is standing there in the rain with an umbrella. I ask him to come inside.
“I get up pretty early most days,” I reply. “I can keep odd hours.”
“Well, it just worries me when you keep odd hours,” He says and walks into my bathroom to check and make sure I am taking my medications.
“You missed Wednesday’s nightly dose,” He says looking disappointed.
“I take my medicine, Dad,” I say. “I just forgot that one night.”
“You take that medicine,” He says with a scolding air. “It is so important to you getting better.”
“I thought something bad had happened when you came over so early,” I reply relieved.
“The alarm at the drug store is going off,” He says. “The police called and I am driving down to check on it.”
Maggie escapes from the backdoor and goes flying out into the night and into my backyard.
“Shit!” My father exclaims.
“Dammit!” I mutter. “I will never get her back inside in this rain.”
“Well, let me run,” Dad says as he gives me a long hug and tells me he loves me.
I pull his head close to my chest and wrap my arms around him. I am so much taller than him. That silver white hair is so soft.
“I love you, too,” I reply.
“You take that damn medicine,” He says once again as he opens his umbrella and runs to his Honda.
“I will!” I holler out after him into the dark, rainy night.
It is so important for people like me to have family such as this. So many mentally ill people have families who give up on them or who no longer care. I am one of the lucky ones. Despite all I have put my family through over the years with this illness, my father is like a Rock of Gibraltar; always there; always concerned and caring. Yes, he can be overbearing at times and obstinate, but I wouldn’t trade his love and these moments for anything else in the world. I, truly, am a lucky man.