Sunday, June 19, 2011

In My Corner

I don't pretend to know how it works, but I know there are no accidents when it comes to how our parents are selected. I like to think I chose mine. And if I did, I must have been a good fighter to beat out all of the competition out there who wanted Durelly.
Whether I chose them or not, I know there was purpose in me being a member of the Smart family. I know there are reasons why my dad is MY dad. Those reasons have become more and more clear the older (and I'd like to think the wiser) I get.

My dad and I have shared specific experiences, conversations and repetitive one-liners that have prepared me for various situations in my life. It would take forever to recount them all; most are funny and some of them are personal, but I'll share the most recent. The second night in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit with Keith, after we had received the news from the neurosurgeon about the gravity of Keith's tumor, I called my Dad. He repeated several times during our conversation, "Whatever cross we are asked to bear, we will bear. And we will bear it well."
At first I was kind of irritated. I wanted him to let me be upset, angry, grief-stricken. I wanted him to let me get all those raw emotions out before I rallied myself for battle. And I was frustrated because for a split-second I resented the "we" in his statement. I realized a couple of things though.
One, my dad has always been the coach in the corner, the cheerleader if you will. It's in the "Phyl" gene, I guess. He's always positive and always convincing me to be extraordinary. This was his way of inspiring me. His way of helping ease my pain.
Two, my dad was easing his pain, too. My Dad knows of grief. He's buried his only two sisters in untimely deaths. One passed while he was serving a mission in Japan, thousands of miles from home. My Dad buried his first-born son. My Dad has buried his own father. He has loved and lost. I can't think of anyone more appropriately prepared to share hard-earned words of wisdom during a moment of crisis.

My Dad continues to check in with me often. He is always in my corner, telling me how amazing I am and how I can do hard things. Children believe what they hear. It's a very good thing I've heard nothing but rallying-cries my whole life from my biggest fan. The constant and yes, even repetitive cheering has given me confidence, faith, determination and sheer will.
That is no accident. And for that, I am so very grateful.