Sunday, June 16, 2013
My Dad, My Hero
There are superheroes all around us. We don't need to look up in the sky or to the side of a building. We need to only look right in our own homes. There is no greater hero than a dad. Joseph Campbell once said that a hero is someone who has given his life and his heart to something bigger than himself. That is a dad - a dad who would do anything for his family, a dad who would be there to pick you up when you fall, a dad who would show you the way, a dad who would always back you up, a dad who would celebrate your accomplishments, a dad who would protect you from your fears, a dad who would believe in you before you ever even believed in yourself. This is a hero. This is my dad.
My dad collapsed on a hot summer day almost 4 years ago while helping a friend build a ramp and just like that our lives would change. He was rushed to the hospital where they found his white blood cell count was through the roof. I remember hearing the word Leukemia, but I don't think it sunk in immediately. It couldn't be true. My dad never appeared sick. My dad never complained. My dad took care of me and my brother and my mom every day. My dad went to work in the same hospital for 36 years, handling each one of the patients he x-rayed with care. My dad wasn't sick. But he was. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. The cancer was in his blood and in his bone marrow. Then his lymph nodes and eventually, his spinal cord and brain. The past 6 months have been spent in and out of hospitals with blood infections, clots, pneumonia...and finally he is home. Hospice.
I read the description...Haven Hospice provides medical, emotional, psychological and spiritual support for patients and families who are experiencing life threatening illness. Among the most comprehensive hospice programs in New Jersey, Haven provides services to patients in the comfort of their own home. The interdisciplinary hospice team is comprised of physicians, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, social workers, counselors, volunteers and clergy. The team manages the patient's physical and spiritual pain, and offers instruction, guidance, and support to family members, significant others, and caregivers.
My heart has never felt so heavy. The choice to do hospice is never an easy one, but the doctors all agreed it was time. His body just couldn't take anymore. He is happy to be home with family and visitors. He is comfortable and we are grateful for every day we have together. My dad is super. While he may not be able to leap tall buildings, I am happy when I can help him stand up. While he has lost almost all his muscle and about 60 pounds, his strength is still astounding. And while he may wear a hospital gown instead of a cape, he is still a superhero to me. I love you, Poppy-seed. Happy Father's Day. This year, I am grateful.