My dad was always a wonder to me. He had Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PP-MS). There are 4 types. My dad had the rare and most aggressive form. It's left me in thought many times. During the attacks that MS brings on, you lose bodily functions and movement. And the worst part of it all is that-- You. Don't. Get. It. Back. Ever. It was horrible to watch over time. He was diagnosed when I was 6 years old. He went from cane to walking crutches to walker to wheel chair in less than 2 years time. With the remaining few years spent only in bed. The saddest part, and the hardest part of PP-MS is that your brain still functions. Through all the pain, deterioration and agony your mind works the same way unless you take hardcore medication which my dad did do the last 5 years or more of his life. 1988-2005 is how long he dealt with the crushing blow the MS delivers. 1988 is when I truly lost the man that was my father. The things I have seen him go through are life changing. They leave emotional wounds that run so deep that I never thought they could clot and begin to heal. He lost a lifetime. He was never able to just be there for us the way that most parents are there for their children. Showing up, catching them in the act of bad behavior, lectures, etc.
He knew we loved him, that I know. We had moments doing the only thing he could do which was watch TV--- Sports, Jeopardy, Price is Right, Family Feud, Wheel Of Fortune or enjoy a meal together. That is why I can't watch sports today. I always imagined what he was thinking in his head while watching baseball, hockey, basketball.... wondering how much he longed to be doing those things again. We lived in Greece most of my younger life and we'd eat my mom's wonderful Greek and Lebanese cooking and remember times we enjoyed. Of course, both of those were short lived as dad lost the ability to eat solid food and lost vision completely in one eye. This disease has the ability to take it ALL away. I
The light at the end of the tunnel is that I have memories of who my dad used to be before this disease took him. And the brightest moment for me is seeing him in my girls. Telling them about the meals, enjoying my mom's Greek and Lebanese cooking with them (which they do love) and seeing some of his personality, his heart and his nature in them. Watching them run and move freely and remembering a time when I couldn't do that myself. The day will come when I will tell them why one grandpa isn't here. They ask now, but the time isn't right yet. They know a version for younger ears. But one day, they'll learn why you should live your life the right way and do what you can for those who do the same for you. And you never take those people for granted. I changed a lot in 10 days. April 8th, 2005 I became a mother and my world opened up to all things and possibilities. April 18th, 2005 I learned what absolute absence really is and what it takes away. Sometimes, going back there in memories takes me back to a cold place. Other times, it takes me back to memories where my dad would re-light my birthday candles and sing happy birthday to me as many times as it took me to make a wish. Or cheer me on in Tee-Ball even if I ran to 3rd base first. It's those memories and the memories of the void that takes over when someone so dear is absent that snaps life back and reminds me that we can't really ever plan for tomorrow. It's not promised to anyone. PP-MS or not. It reminds me to work hard for the things that I want. Earn my life here with my family (does this sound like something from Saving Private Ryan? "Earn this") That's why we're here. To work hard, love each other and know that some day we will be remembered, it's up to us to live a life worthy of being remembered.
I hope he is resting in peace.