This is a guest post written by my younger sister, Tiffany, who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. Tiffany has shared a monthly guest post on my blog since February 2015. The purpose of her regular posts is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with mental illness. Last month, Tiffany honored our mom’s unique journey through motherhood with a guest post thanking her for all the ways she’s supported my sister from childhood to current day. This month, Tiffany is honoring our dad with a special post for Father’s Day. If you’d like to read all the posts written about Tiffany’s journey, check out the mental health page. Without further ado, here’s Tiffany.
Who is my dad?
Those who have interacted with him know he loves people, always making small talk with people he comes across in life. My dad has always been a role model to me, and I’m sure to others as well. My dad is waiting another month to be put on the lung transplant list. My hope for my dad is for him to live a few more years without having to rely on oxygen. To take walks together, to talk a few more years and to have my dad around a little bit longer.
My dad has always been my cheerleader. I always remember him saying when I was younger and many times now, “Way to go Tiff, you can do it.” His encouraging words always seem to make me feel better. My dad has always pushed me further than I thought I could go. I feel that I succeeded in many activities and stayed strong because of my dad.
My dad worked two jobs while my sister, brother and I were growing up. He was a band director and a car salesman. He always left time to hang out with his family. Our family would have dinner each night and hang out with my dad while my mom was cleaning up from dinner. We would practice our instruments, fly kites, go to the park and play what we would call “tricks.” Our “tricks” consisted of being held up in the air with my dad’s feet and arms. We would sit on his foot and be pulled around, and we’d ride around on his back. My dad was the one who taught me how to pray. He would pray with us, and us kids would fall asleep afterwards.
My dad and I have always taken walks together. Before he was sick I could barely keep up with him. We’d talk about whatever and look at the stars together. One of the only consistent stars I can point out is the big dipper. We still have our talks, which we’ve had since I was younger, but they’re just different now. I am looking forward to the future, so we can take walks and fast walks again.
My dad has been through my life during the ups and downs. After completing my bachelors degree from the University of Minnesota – Duluth, I worked for a few years in Minneapolis. After that, I decided to check out The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. My dad flew out to LA to look at the school and for places to live. I was going to live in Venice Beach.
During one of our trips to the Los Angeles area, we took the bus a few places. My dad was communicating with everyone. I told him that in LA, everyone doesn’t talk to each other. We had coffee at a place that ended up being my favorite in the hood. I left my dad at the coffee place and took off to hang with some new friends. We played music together. Then I went back to pick my dad up.
My dad came to visit a few times during my time in Los Angeles. On one of his lasts visits to me in LA was mass confusion. I was working with Jim Carrey as an extra in an airport scene in a movie, and I had to go and pick my dad from another airport. The people I was working with wanted me to change my wardrobe, and I did not want to stand in the wardrobe line again. I was crying and Jim Carrey asked what was going on with me. The issue was resolved. On my way to pick up my dad from the other airport, the battery on my phone died. I started getting psychotic! My dad was in LA for over two weeks, and I rarely saw him. I get very emotional when I think of our times in LA. My dad always introduces me as an actress. The truth is that I never envisioned myself as an actress. I do NOT have good memory skills. I was pretty good in the background, and I miss all the lights and cameras.
My kids have been able to utilize my dad as a father figure. He enjoys when they’re around if they are behaving well. We are working on that. My dad’s energy is very low right now, but we’re doing what we can. My dad has a boat that we try to go on as much as possible during the summer months. He reads a lot with my kids. He treats my kids similar to the way he raised us, always playing and big hugs and have a good day. I know my growing up years were great. I know that my kids and I are being helped the right way by my parents and others.
One guy in my history of my living has asked my dad for his blessing to marry me. I’ve known for a few years that I was not in the right place to get married, not yet. I wasn’t sure if my dad would be strong enough to walk me down the aisle. It just makes me sad. As I was walking out from an appointment at the hospital the other day, I was thinking to myself that I am prepared to take this journey alone. Then I looked down and noticed a fairly large diamond. I told the hospital I found it, but nobody has claimed that diamond, so it’s mine, I guess?! Either way, I am prepared for whatever God chooses for me. If I could find some guy who treats me as my dad has, maybe I’d make some sort of decision?!
My dad has always been the person in my life who I can talk to without being judged or feeling judged. My dad is a very positive person, most of the time. I have learned a lot from my dad’s style of living. I wish him many wonderful years ahead, full of love.