Neckties and migraines

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When I was a kid, the quintessential Father’s Day gift was a necktie. Even at the age of seven while enthusiastically shopping for the most outrageous tie for my dad, I plainly remember knowing how mediocre a gift it actually was. I always felt sorry for my father that he was continuously receiving the crummiest presents imaginable. I also clearly recall thinking how disappointing Christmases must have been for my father. Neckties, undershirts and argyle socks were common presents that we would actively shower upon our sad, unsuspecting father, year after year. We (the spoiled, rotten children) would spend hours feverishly tearing open boxes filled with the coolest toys that money and/or Santa Claus could buy, while Dad sat under a mound of JC Penney boxes filled with clothing accessories that we wouldn’t be caught dead in.

As I rapidly approach my 13th Father’s Day as a dad, my wife and children have been hounding me about what I want them to give me on my special holiday. I frankly don’t know what the modern Father’s Day equivalent to the 1970s necktie might be, but it turns out that I simply don’t care for material things anymore. I have precisely what I need in life. Them.

And, as I gradually become the 2013 version of my 1979 father, it has been an eternity since I can last recall counting or measuring the value of the presents that I receive from anyone, especially from my wife and children. Thus, it hardly amazes me how little value I now put on stuff compared with how much value I put on quality time with my family and friends. It hardly amazes or perplexes me to know that my father never felt cheated or neglected all those Christmases, Birthdays and Father’s Days ago. He didn’t need anything other than time with us. We were his gift. We were his holiday. The stupid necktie was merely the icing on the cake.

And so today, I don’t feel sorry for my father anymore. And while I may have no particular use for a necktie, I know for certain that I will love whatever it is they give me.

Unfortunately, what I truly want this Father’s Day is something my children are not equipped to provide. What I want is for my wife to have a weekend free of migraine pain. If I were really being greedy, I would ask for a month or a year or a permanent cure but that would be a miracle. That would have been like asking Santa for all the Tonka trucks at the North Pole. Way too good to be true–I know this because I once asked.

No, this year I’m not asking for anything close to that extreme. The ideal Father’s Day for me would be quality time with my wife and children, and the icing on the cake (the necktie) would simply be a weekend free of migraine pain for my amazing wife.

I recognize that this request makes me come across as a compassionate and loving husband (which is most certainly true), but it wouldn’t be entirely honest of me to pretend that my intentions are totally selfless. Don’t get me wrong. I genuinely hope and pray that my wife will no longer have to suffer the pain and debilitation that accompany these headaches. It hurts me to see her hurt from chronic migraines. However, it can be challenging and often inconvenient to be a husband and father juggling multiple careers as well as the lone, healthy parent managing the day-to-day lives of a busy family.

And so, while I want my wife to be happy and pain-free, I equally want my children and I to enjoy this Father’s Day weekend with her … not without her.

On the weekends, we all enjoy sleeping in, but on occasion my children and I like to go out and grab a late breakfast or early lunch. Unfortunately, on most weekend mornings, my wife isn’t healthy enough to join us. In the afternoons, we may go to a movie or visit friends but again, far too often we are forced to go without my wife. I sometimes feel guilty, but what can we do? She feels awful if we don’t go at all, but it also distresses her knowing how often we go places without her. She wants to be an active part of their lives, and I do everything I can to encourage her to get up and get out. But on the days of her most aggressive migraines, it takes every ounce of energy and strength in her to just sit up in bed, let alone get out of the house and participate in our family outings.

This Father’s Day, all I want is for my wife to be happy, healthy and comfortable enough to join us for brunch, a show, and dinner with family and friends. That, combined perhaps with a fairly substantial amount of free, uninterrupted time watching the U.S. Open and/or the NBA Finals in relative peace and quiet. But in lieu of the U.S. Open and/or NBA Finals, I’ll take a necktie.

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