Saturday, April 17, 2010


Sunday marks the 5 year anniversary of the day I lost my dad. It's always been a hard day for me.  5 years isn't a long time to be without my dad and of course just 10 days earlier we celebrate the Bug coming into the world. It was a time of raw and powerful emotions lumped into a hormonally challenging time. But there are reasons for me to write about it a day early. The first is that I have visitors--- dear friends, coming over on Sunday and the second is that it is on the forefront of my mind now.

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 broke crushed my foot almost 10 years ago. I had to learn how to walk again after 3 surgeries to insert and remove pins and screws. I thought THAT was awful and it drove me insane. But no.... Everything you take for granted that you can do every day---- gone when MS is involved. All except thinking about it and feeling it which has to be the worst prison. A punishment without a crime. Perhaps for PP-MS, a slow and painful death sentence. The even harder part for me was that PP-MS isn't even responsible for how my dad did die. He was neglected by a doctor, and passed away in a hospital of dehydration because he couldn't take care of his basic necessities and the doctors/staff weren't willing to help until the last minute. And obviously you can tell every year about this time that it was too late.

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.





Daddy Forever said...

I'm sorry he and your family had to endure his disease. And I'm sorry about his lack of medical help at the end. I really don't understand how people in the medical industry could just ignore him like that.

Your dad sounds like a great man. I'm glad you at least have some good memories of him to share with your kids.

Veronica Lee said...

Your dad sounds like a wonderful person.
That was a beautiful tribute to your dad.


Anonymous said...

God bless him.

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Tina said...

aww that is such a sad story. im sure he is looking down at you all :)

lovely pics, especially the one with the little one in with your dad

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