My Journey through Breast Cancer

On October 11, 2013, I was diagnosed with Stage II Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) ... or as we like to call it, extreme measures for a nap (EMFN). For a while, this blog will be my cancer journal. Enter at your own risk.

22 June 2007

a good man is hard to find

Last Sunday, when I was looking for Father’s Day cards (It was actually ON Father’s Day), I encountered a very discouraging selection. I was at Target, with all the other last-minute shoppers, searching for that perfect card for Dad … or at least one that would make him chuckle.

However, all I seemed to be able to find were cards that expected me to be amused by belching, drinking, scratching, golfing poorly, driving fast, ogling women, and handing out money to ungrateful kids. Unfortunately, I’m afraid this sorry collection of “funny” cards is more a reflection of our society’s attitude toward men and fathers in general than we’d like it to be. It seems the honest, hard working, wise man is no longer valued, not even all that desired in our world today.

And so to combat this disturbing fact of society’s downhill slide, I would like to take a moment to share some of the things my own father has taught me. He is a man of genuine character, and deserves praise above that of greeting card writers.

The following is a list of a few things my dad has taught me:

1. Few thoughts are worth being spoken aloud unless they are in the form of a question. You might find this an odd characteristic, but it is my dad’s humility and curiosity which result in his most common sentence being an inquisitive one. He always assumes someone else might know something he doesn’t, never assumes what he thinks he knows is the only right way or answer, and is always curious about the unknown. I think it is this quality that took us all over the United States on vacations, exploring back roads and never-before-seen sights. We rarely went to the same place twice. I once went looking for a book of California back roads as a gift for my dad, and discovered we’d been on most of the ones the author described as “remote.”

2. No pain, no gain. As a child I was a gymnast, and there were days, after coaches made us do too many push ups or too many sit ups, or days when I’d fallen on my head too many times, that I would start to complain. And my dad would look at me with the half-grin of his and, with a twinkle in his eye, say “No pain, no gain!” It used to drive me NUTS! And yet, he’s right. And I believe it’s a big part of what instilled in me the perseverance and drive necessary to accomplish difficult things. Most things worth having require a little pain and discomfort to reach. And now I'm not so afraid of that discomfort. (Just so you know he’s not completely cruel, he would often stop on the way home from the gym and buy me frozen yogurt.)

3. Its ok to cry. There are two instances I remember distinctly. The first was the day Jon, my brother, was diagnosed as diabetic. I came home from school to my mom explaining everything to friends who’d happened to stop by, while my dad was in the other room crying. Its not that my mom had no compassion, but seeing my dad’s feelings so openly worn on his sleeve really struck me as particularly poignant. If DAD can cry, it must be OK. Then there was the Christmas I called home from China with the news that I’d decided to get trained to return to China long term … My dad tried explaining it to the rest of the family, but in the end he had to have my mom do it because he was crying. (Another disclaimer: he’s not a complete basket case, just a compassionate man whose strength is in no way diminished by his emotions.)

4. Its important to laugh at yourself. All four of us Hammer kids have a pretty good sense of humor, and a distinct ability to laugh at ourselves. This goes along with Dad’s humility, and willingness to admit he might be wrong. It also goes along with his willingness to walk around in his cycling clothes after a ride, with his hair sticking straight up in three lines where the air holes in his helmet were. (See picture.) He’s a brave man.

5. One of my favorite things about my dad is how, after 36 years of marriage, he’s still madly in love with my mom. They have both been an amazing example of what marriage and commitment should look like. He was also very good at “dating his daughters,” teaching us how to spot and wait for a quality man ourselves. I know he worried about us at times, but in the end, and more than partly because of him, we’ve chosen well, and I know he agrees.

6. Its never too late to take on or learn something huge and new … just a few years ago my parents tried their hands at missionary work in Africa … the first time they’d ever done anything like that. And it suited them so well they’ve gone back twice! Also, he completed his Bachelor’s degree in his 40s, and got his Master’s in his 50s. Complacency will never be something that plagues my dad, or my mom, for that matter.

7. There is no greater movie than Support Your Local Sheriff … and knowing all the lines makes you a better person.

8. When in doubt about what CD to put in, choose ABBA! You can’t go wrong with “Dancing Queen.”

9. Ties are no longer necessary attire for doing business in Southern California, even if the CEO of the large company you’re working with doesn’t agree.

10. Death Valley IS a valid vacation destination.

11. 100-mile bike rides are not only possible, but should be attempted … even when one hasn’t trained properly (sometimes that Hammer perseverance makes us do things we shouldn’t.)

12. There are few things finer than a truly great photograph. (Check out the Doug Hammer gallery.)

13. Quality and excellence should be pursued in every area of life, at all times. (I blame him for my taste in expensive things … good quality always costs more!)

14. Perhaps the most important thing I’ve always seen, and continue to learn from my dad is that our relationship with God should be the foundation for everything we do, at all times. Without that, being a quality person, knowing movie lines, accomplishing things through tenacity alone … its all nothing. Without Christ, its all for nothing.

Thank you Dad, for the awesome example you have always been and continue to be. If only every girl had a dad like you …


Mom Dub said...

Now you made me cry. What a wonderful tribute to your dad! Who needs cards when you can write like that!

Did you notice that your dad resembles Einstein?

Steve said...

I agree with your assessment about the card selections available and this country's view of decent men. Your tribute to your dad was touching.