There was no way to be around my dad when he was at his most charming and hilarious and not laugh.  Even though his diabetes had claimed his sight and his kidney function, a disease called ataxia had robbed him of the ability to walk and he was profoundly deaf, the man could make me laugh and he seemed to thrive on it. For that, I was grateful.

The author and her dad.

The author and her dad.

For the last five years of his life, he was essentially trapped in his own body.  There were days when he was angry, days when he was depressed and then there were the days he smiled, cracked jokes and CHOSE to be hopeful. For that, I was grateful.

When he first started to lose his sight and we knew he would not be able to see us sign or read lips much longer, panic set in.  How would we communicate?  His partner at the time called me, in tears and not sure what to do, asking if I had any ideas.  It came to me suddenly, a flash of memory.  When I was a child, we would play a game most nights. He would trace letters on my back and spell out words for me to guess.  I relayed this to her and she said she’d give it a shot. For that chance, I was grateful.

The next day, she called me back.  She told me that she’d started to trace the letters of my name on his back.  He didn’t know what the heck she was doing at first, but as she did it again and again, he caught on and he cried, remembering.  I cried when she told me, and I was grateful.

The last time I saw my dad alive and able to speak and interact with my brother and I, the three of us stayed up all night while my dad told us story after story about his life– his mischievous childhood, and his young adult years. My dad was a master storyteller.  I rested my head on his knee so he could feel me laughing.  He was cataloguing his life.  For that memory, I am grateful.

Up until he went into cardiac arrest at dialysis and slipped into a coma, my dad had hope.  He was learning Morse code at the Lighthouse for the Blind as a means of efficient communication.  Once knowledgeable enough, he would have had an aide travel with him everywhere and “rejoin” society.  It is his hope and determination despite what must have seemed like insurmountable odds paired with the tenacity with which he fought his lengthy illness that I carry with me always.  For that, I am eminently grateful.

Happy Father's day

Happy Father’s Day, dad.