I want to tell you about my father. A man you all know as someone with MS but he was, as so many of you with a disease are, so much more than that. I have very few memories of my Dad before he got sick. I remember playing football with him in our back yard at night in the snow. I remember really wanting a new backpack for school (maybe grade 1) and my mother saying I didn’t need one then lone behold when my father came home from work he had picked me up a new one on the way home from work ,he spoiled me. I remember him working on things in the basement making wood sculptures of ducks and birds. He always wore a red and black plaid jacket and the basement would smell like cherry pipe tobacco (I still love that smell). I remember he worked all the time...But mostly I remember him after the MS squeezed its way into our lives.
He needed a cane, he use to drag his leg behind him when he walked with that cane. I’ll never forget the sound it made on our floors. But he was always making my family laugh. If you didn’t already know this, My Dad was a regular comedian; he found a way of making everything he was going through funny. Even though it only kept getting worse. The cane gave way to a walker and the walker gave way to a wheelchair and eventually he was in a motorised wheelchair and barley moved. As you can probably imagine we grew apart a little, living a minimum of 8 hours apart at the best of times. But I still tried to talk to him at least once a week. He gave me advice I’ll never forget on life and love. Speaking of love, you haven’t seen it till you have seen my parents. My mom never missed a beat; she’s an inspiration, a true angel. You’re probably thinking I’m saying that cause she’s my mom but ask anyone that knew them and they will tell you the same. This woman re wrote the meaning of love. She took care of my dad every day. A lot more work then it sounds.
My mother is a pillar of strength. I am beyond proud....I am honoured to say she’s my Mom.
I could write this blog for hours and have pages upon pages funny and sad stories about my father. I could tell you what made him happy and the stories he would tell us about fishing trips and friends. But there is one thing that sticks out in my mind more than anything. And I feel this is what I need to share.
I was sitting with my Dad awhile back talking about his MS. And he said to me that before he got sick he wouldn’t look twice a person in a wheelchair, he wouldn’t think twice about anyone with a disability. And he would have never thought of striking up a conversation with that kid on the bus with Down syndrome. So he was thankful, that because of MS his eyes were opened to a different world. Now all he thought of was how to make the world a better place for people with disabilities, he made friends with that kid on the bus and saw a true light in people that at one point in his life he shunned. He told me this story about people he’s met and friends he’s made and then stopped looked at me and said "it just goes to show ya, people look at me and just see the MS." A moment in time I’ll never forget. My father was, is and will always be more than a disease.
When you deal with death especially the death of someone who was ill you hear people say "I want to remember him the way he was before he got sick" a lot..but ill just say this. My Dad was a lot of things and went through a lot of things. Challenges most of us would not have made it through and he did....and he did it smiling. so you can remember him as a business man, a man who judged others by their appearance a man who worked long hours and barley saw his family but could run a track for a few hours... the way he was before he got sick... I choose to remember him in a wheelchair, barley moving, struggling to hold coffee mugs, bitching about the ignorance in the world but able to ask for help, seeing people beyond the physical, knowing that family and friends are more important than work, spending time with me and my sister, loving his grand babies, loving my mother but more than that telling her every chance he had, laughing most of all I’ll remember him laughing.
" A hero is and ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles." - Christopher Reeves
I love you.