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By Shannon Brock

Friday after work, I was really hungry.

I had a fairly early lunch and couldn't wait to meet up with my mother for dinner. I don't think I'd ever been so excited about hospital food in my life.

Yep, I said hospital food and excited in the same sentence.

You see, my dad had a partial knee replacement surgery last week in Danville, so I was on my way to the hospital to check on him and provide a little company to my mom.

But as soon as I stepped in that hospital room, my appetite subsided. Nothing serious happened, and it didn't have anything to do with the look or smell of the hospital. But it had everything to do with the fact that my superhuman father had been brought back to mortal status.

I've written it before, and I'll write it again - my father is one of my heroes.

He's the man who took me swimming at Paradise Pool, he's the man who coached my softball teams and he's the man who makes me feel safe during a thunderstorm simply by being at home.

Sometimes I think he doesn't feel like he means as much to me since I've gotten older, but it's quite the opposite - he means more.

I won't get into details, but the day I made him cry was one of the worst days of my life. But every day he tells me he's proud of me is one of the best. There are a lot of those 'best' days, but last Thursday and Friday don't fall into that category.

My dad is a strong (albeit stubborn) man. He hardly ever shows signs of weakness or signs of pain. The only times I've seen him exhibit either of those signs have been times when he was shortly thereafter admitted to a hospital.

So seeing him just lying there in a hospital bed was enough to take my appetite away.

The anesthetics had finally started to wear off, meaning he was regaining some movement in his leg, but also regaining the ability to feel the soreness that accompanies the surgery. I can only imagine how sore and painful that leg had to feel for him to admit that it hurt.

My father's knee had been messed up for 20-plus years, and this was his third operation on it. Years of shooting hoops and sliding into home during the Softball World Series had taken a toll on that knee. And although it had pained him for most of my life, I rarely saw it. Only in the past few years did I begin to notice the stiffness of his walk.

But he noticed it everyday, and he was tired of it.

So he had the surgery, which went really well. The doctors and physical therapists would almost go so far as to say they were amazed with his recovery only hours after the surgery. Less than a full day afterward, he was walking laps around the nurses station (with the assistance of a walker or crutches). That's my daddy - he's just that strong-willed.

I know the main reason he had this surgery was because of the unbelievable pain he'd been experiencing for two decades, but I think another reason slipped out during his conversation with a physical therapist at the hospital.

Motioning toward me, he said, "That's my daughter. She's getting married on me, so I have to be able to walk a straight line by July 12."

He would walk it today if he had to. And by July 12, he might even be able to fly it - he is my hero after all.

Also, FYI:

We now have a couch (woohoo!). It arrived Friday, and it's marvelous. Thank you to Ms. Louise, who offered me her couch. We didn't take it because we'd already found this one, but her generous gesture will be something I'll appreciate for a long time.