At the age of 8, most little girls are energetic and sprightly. Most days, I was no exception to this rule. I was constantly playing with a friend or my older sister, Alex. There was a promise of nothing but excitement to be had in the summer of 2008. I was looking forward to 24/7 playing and no 8-year-old stresses like spelling tests and multiplication tables. Near the beginning of summer, I went into my doctor so he could take a look at an abnormal lump my dad noticed on my neck.
Uncertainly, my doctor told my dad that he was not sure what was wrong with me. “I believe she has Mono or Cat Scratch Fever” he said. I’m not sure if it was his puzzled face or hesitant tone in his voice, but I did not believe him. After being asked for a week if I have been kissed by any boys or played with any cats recently, we went back to the doctor. Still absolutely unsure, he told us a biopsy was the next option.
After a day of surgery and a 24 hour hospital stay at Texas Children’s Hospital, the verdict was Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My summer plans had now changed to 24/7 hospital visits and anxiety. Everyday, I went to the hospital and got an IV along with a cocktail of drugs and antibiotics. My play dates with friends were now replaced to appointments with my parents.
Though the hospital was colorful and full of kid-friendly activities, nothing quite caught my eye. Books with detailed pictures, crafts with sequins, and visits with cute baseball players could not compare to my father’s secret weapon for entertainment. Even though his Palm Pilot’s main use was to aid in his working, I came to realize its true calling, the games. One of the games that was on it was not exactly the stereotypical little girl’s game. It just so happens that I was no longer comparable to the stereotypical little girl, so it worked out flawlessly. I loved nothing more than to play the ‘90s tank game with my dad. He was the perfect Sergeant Dad to lead me to victory.
I believe that life does not give a roadmap to happiness. There are detours and forks in the road to help you find your own path. Spending the time with him that I did just watching the little stream of dots going across the screen to the other person’s tank was all I needed to get through the long days. My only enemy was the other army and nothing else could threaten me anymore. The Sergeant would not allow it. The biggest worry was how to adapt my tank to successfully adjust to the wind.
Suddenly, the long days at the hospital seemed to fly by. No longer was it such a burden to sit in one of the old, ugly recliners in the hospital’s collection of old, ugly recliners. At the time it was just my father’s way of helping to entertain me, and him as well, through the day. Looking back, it wasn’t just a way to waste time. It was a way for my father to make his daughter cheerful even through the time of discontent. I don’t consider that part of my childhood to be a sorrowful or nerve-racking time. Really, I consider it as some of the best bonding time with those who love me. Being able to spend chunks of uninterrupted time with such pure bliss with my father, it became a memory that will not fade easily. Sure, I had other people with numerous ways to divert my attention for a while. But the significant part to me was my dad, the old, ugly recliners, and our troops.