I remember at one point in my life, I would always run to my father for every question, troubled issue, confused idea, or pondering problem..
“Hey dad, can you help me with my math homework?”
“Sure!” was his reply as he would jump up without hesitation to help me finish the rest of my school work.
The man knew everything from solving quadratic equations, to knowing an artist’s name of a song(and album name), to fixing my car when it broke down.
When I got older, I’d drive around the city of Chicago and get lost..
(Phone rings) “Hey dad, if I’m on Foster and Kedzie, how do I get back home?”
(Answers quickly) “Take Foster west to Austin and then take a left on Austin, take that street all the way down to Roosevelt, you’ll know your way from there.”
Boom, got me home in 20-30 minutes.
It was easy going through life having a strong person support your every move. Even though he would give me a hard time when I was lazy, he would push me to go the distance at all times.
Dad – “I don’t care if it’s snowing, you’re still walking to school! I walked to school everyday when I was young, you will too!”
As he drove off in his car to work, I angrily walked my seven blocks to school. (I was just being lazy. haha)
Well.. Last year he had a massive stroke and as he lay in the hospital bed at Loyola, all I could think about was how devastating life would be without my super-human dad. He was more than my leader, more than my guardian, more than a role model.. He was my father.
I’d show up at the hospital everyday to watch the Bulls/Steelers/Blackhawks play, I’d shave him, keep his pillows tucked neatly on both sides to prop him up, bring a speaker to play his favorite salsa songs, and even stay overnight sometimes to make sure he had everything he needed(the nurses there did a great job as well keeping him comfortable).
A couple months later, the nurses reached out to me and asked that I come in to learn how to accommodate to his needs while he was home. As I came in at the time prompted, I was confused by what they were teaching me. They showed me how to lift him up, lay him down, how to shower him, how to bring him up and down the stairs in a wheel chair. I was so confused..
“You mean he’s always going to be in this paralyzed state?” I asked..
The nurses would respond that it depended upon my father. Something we had no control over, only the strength and perseverance of my father would make any of that possible.
“Until that time comes, we’ll teach you how to accommodate to his needs for the time being,” they would politely respond.
As I stood there worrying that my strength would not be enough to handle this, I heard my father’s voice shouting within me, “stop being lazy, you can do this!”
What I realized is that, even with my father in this state; he is not only still physically around but also spiritually within me. I possess the strength my father had and as our roles have shifted, the energy never left.
I am the rock, the leader, the role model now.. I am the one that will hold this family together.. I am the one that will build him back into the man he once was, because I am “my father.”
I am the Hero.
Thank you for listening.