Grateful…Especially For My Dad

I recently saw a video showing many impoverished, extremely grateful people receiving wheelchairs.  Even though the circumstances are different, of course, I couldn’t help but think of my Daddy.  A few days after seeing that touching video, my dear Daddy posted this comment on this blog:

Bodies ARE a gift. Even if they can’t do everything, I am grateful for the parts that still work.
 

Some of you know my Dad and some of you don’t.  Let me introduce you.
 My Daddy is the man who was born with an insatiable desire for knowledge (especially historical) and life…

He is the eldest of three boys.  My Daddy is the one who learned about a religion called Mormonism at the age of 18, was the only one in his family to join then and was soon on the other side of the hemisphere teaching it to others in Bolivia for two years.

He grew to love the people, serve them…

…even dress like them (yes, Daddy, your Cholita photo is on the internet ;))  Eventually he fell in love with one of them.

My Daddy is the man who convinced a woman to marry him by doing tricks, bringing her ice cream, pretending to eat fish at Sea World and by letting her be her crazy self, even if that meant his face ended up with chocolate all over it…

 My Daddy is the reason I was born in Provo, UT, helping rear me while he attended Brigham Young University.  He is the man who all the other kids at the playground wanted to have chase them too because he wasn’t too grown-up to be playing tag up and down the slides.

He is the Daddy who pushed his daughter so high on the swing she hung on for dear life and flew so fast on his bike with her sitting on the back she screamed down that hill at UC Davis.

 He is the Daddy that helped get his girls ready for church each week and was worthy to baptize them too.

 

He is the Daddy who drove us to Disneyland several times, made armor, a shield and weapons from scratch, and then chose 3 dragons as his crest representing his daughters, three Valley Oak Elementary “dragons.”

 

 He is the man who graduated again and again, convincing me of the importance of an education.

My Daddy is the Dad who sat in the front row of every performance, the stage lights reflecting off his glasses, and then stayed up ’til midnight with me enjoying helping prepare me for Calculus tests.

 He is the Dad who took his family to all 21 California Mission, stopped to read Historical Monument plaques on the side of the road and spent his weekends at Civil War reenactments, firing canons and crawling on his stomach down a battlefield with his rifle. 

He is the man who taught his girls how to polka in the kitchen, played Elton John songs on the piano while they twirled in the living room, and waltzed with his daughter at a Civil War Ball, faster than everyone else.

He’s the Dad who enjoyed chaperoning his daughter’s Senior night and went river rafting with her as a senior gift…

My Dad is also the man who one day, unexpectedly, fell on his way to the bus stop.

He is the man who started to lose feeling in his legs and began using a cane in his forties.

He could not longer run and crawl with his Civil War battalion.

But he continued to fire the cannon on the battlefield.

 My Daddy is the man who for years stumped doctors, and then came in with his own diagnosis: Erdheim-Chester Disease.  He no longer earns a paycheck, but he still supports his family, traveling to graduation ceremonies for his daughters across the country. 

 My Father is the man who walked for as long as he could, drove for as long as he could and then, in a wheelchair, accomplished his goal of visiting all 50 states, finishing with his entire family in Alaska.   

 My amazing, super-woman Mommy has been alongside him every step of the way.
 
My Father is the man who is beating the odds, still laughing and persevering.
 
  He is the person I thought of on those dark days when ideas of how to take my own life came into my mind.  His smile, faith and resilience pushed out the despair and filled it with love.  
How could I give up on life when he, with his bright mind yet withering body still hadn’t?

If he could continue to look at the positive, be grateful and keep going, I could too.

Now my father is the Grandpa who sends emails late into the night.  He is the Grandpa who asks to have his grandchildren ride on his frail lap and plays with them, even though I have to stand close in case his arms get tired. 

He is the Grandpa who searched the internet to find the perfect stuffed fox as a gift for his Granddaughter, who he lets pull on his beard and kiss his cheeks.

My Daddy is the man who was diagnosed with a terminal illness almost 10 years ago, and is now the Grandfather of three beautiful kids.

 He is the man who can’t really talk, but continues to type.  He has interviewed, typed and created two family history books for my family.  He emails me every day and is even participating in the 1940 Census project. 

He is the Daddy who posted on his daughter’s blog:
 Bodies ARE a gift. Even if they can’t do everything, I am grateful for the parts that still work.

I love you, Daddy.  Knowing you through your illness has made me more compassionate, more loving and more motivated to take care of the body I have and not abuse it.

You are not the same Daddy I had growing up all those years, but somehow YOU ARE even better. 🙂

 I hope you don’t mind that I thought of you when I saw this video.  The link is here.  The situation that led to you in your wheelchair is different.  But the enthusiasm you still show for life is the same as theirs and fills my soul every day with hope.  You may be quieter now, but your are still teaching me even without speaking.  Thank you for teaching me how to be grateful. 

Love, Number One

P.S. Please don’t be embarrassed by this post.  I know you are a humble man, but that doesn’t mean I can’t brag about you! 🙂 Besides, we all need some inspiration sometimes and you are just that…inspiring. <3