Tuesday, October 30, 2012

For My Daddy

I posted something for my mother around Mother's Day, but I did not post anything about dads. My childhood was dysfunctional, but who's wasn't? My parents did a MUCH better job than their parents.

My father and I had periods of time when I was extremely angry at him. After my parent's were divorced, there would be weeks that we did not speak. Six years ago, my dad had a stroke while he was living in Texas. Luckily, I had already taken time off from work for another reason, and my mother agreed to drive me to Texas. We drove all night. I was thankful that my mom was able to swallow her pride and all bitterness, due to the divorce, to take me to my dad.

My father was in worse shape than I had anticipated. One side of his face drooped, his speech was slurred, he could not walk or use his left arm. He was left-handed, so he could not even feed himself. The stroke caused so many secondary issues, such as: seizures, confusion, horrible itching all over his body, and the worst anxiety I have ever witnessed. It was torture to watch my dad lay there in the hospital bed. The social worker in the hospital told me it would be near impossible to transport my dad to Omaha without thousands of dollars. He was unable to travel without a nurse or paramedic. A flight would have cost closed to $10,000, and an ambulance ride from Texas to Omaha would have cost nearly as much. I looked the Social worker in the eye, and asked what I should do. She said there was not much I could do.

The last words I said to my father before I left him to return home to my children, "I will NOT leave you here like this. I WILL get you to Omaha, somehow."

We both cried and hugged one another, and I could see the fear in his eyes. He was terrified he would be put in a home in Texas, left alone for the rest of his life. When I returned, I made call after call on my father's behalf. I heard of charities who flew patients, complete with medical care, free of charge. I found an organization to fly my father, lined up a hospital to take him BEFORE his Medicare/Medicaid had been approved (the hospital where I worked at the time), found him a doctor, and a facility to take him after he finished with rehab. I made a phone call to that social worker in Texas, and told her to never say never.

I was so relieved. I am posting some links to free medical flight websites:

Air Charity Network
Angel Flight NE
Angel Flight Inc
Air Care All

My dad was flown here, in rehab for a few months, followed by a place for head-injured people, and has been living in his own apartment for years. I assist with his finances, getting him to appointments, and renewing his insurance yearly. I was remarried last year, and the song my dad and I danced to was, I'll Stand by You, by The Pretenders. The song still makes me cry.

Something good came from the stroke. I got my daddy back, not just physically, but emotionally. I no longer held onto all of the pain and resentment, and when I looked at him I only saw love. I know now that my dad always did the best he could with the tools he had at the time, and he ALWAYS meant well. He would never knowingly hurt me. I am an only child, and I did not have a perfect childhood. I am grateful for the childhood I had, because so much of who I am now came from who I was and who my parents were. I am strong, independent, creative, funny, and forgiving. I would not be all of those things if not for my parents. My dad has always believed in anything and everything that was and is important to me. He never doubted me or discouraged me. He nurtured my creativity and independence.

Dad, I want you to know how very important and irreplaceable you are to me. I love you unconditionally and without expectations. I am grateful to you for all that you have done for me. I am thankful that I get to be your daughter, and I think you were and are the perfect dad for me in this life. If I could go back and choose a father, I would choose you every time. I don't want you to think you haven't done anything important in this life or that you should have done something more. You are a father, a grandfather, and an inspiration to me. I love you so much, Daddy.


  1. Linked here from "Feature Writers."

    This is an amazing article. It is touching to me right now, as my dad is in the hospital with stroke-like symptoms, but the doctors don't think it is a stroke. He sleeps a lot, can't hold a coherent conversation when he is awake, and doesn't know where he is.

    Now, the things I wanted to say to him are on hold ... for how long? We are hoping and praying he will be ok.

    So, your article struck close to home. I think you handled this so admirably, and thanks for sharing the story.

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about your dad, Warren. Have faith that he will pull through this, and just being there for him is enough. He knows you love him. Does he have fever? Headaches? Start researching, and the most important is to carry a notebook to the hospital with you. Document all that you can. I found in my experience when my dad was in the hospital that when you are not watching or keeping on top of the staff is when things get missed. You are his best advocate.

    Take good care of yourself and get plenty of sleep.

    Again, I'm so sorry this is happening and will say a prayer for you and your dad.