A Girl Without a Dad... A Woman with a Hero

Friday, August 31, 2012

I spent most of my life as a girl without a dad! It was normal to me. I never felt sorry for myself or felt like I was missing out. I actually felt pretty lucky. I had a great mom who would do anything for me. She was our provider, our protector, and my best friend.

When I was 14 years old my mom got married to an amazing man and I learned what it was like to have a father. 6 years and 5 months later I held my own wedding reception in the exact same spot where my parents said I do and the amazing man that had become my dad walked me down the aisle and gave me to my husband.  I wore the same dress as my mom, I danced on the same dance floor, and I had my very first and very last father daughter dance.
Three months and one day after my wedding we got a terrible phone call that my dad had been in an accident at work. They had flown him to a hospital in Philadelphia and we all rushed to be at his side. I still remember walking into his the emergency room and seeing him lying there. I remember how scared I was that we could lose him and the relief I felt when we walked into the room and he was awake and able to talk. We learned fairly quickly that my dad was paralyzed. He spent months and months and months in the hospital and a rehabilitation center. There were many complications that first year and many times when we weren't sure if he was going to make it, but thankfully he did.
The past 7 years since my dad's accident have been a rough road. My mom quit working to stay home and be with him. My dad struggled with severe pain. He was hospitalized many times with pneumonia and shortness of breath. He has had more surgeries and procedures then most people have in there lifetime and did it all with a smile on his face. My dad was a fighter. He never gave up and he never quit. There were definitely challenges along the way but he always fought harder and did everything he could to do everything he put his mind to.
My dad and I became closer then ever after his accident. We spent every day together. He taught me what it was like to fight for your family. He taught me about a love that was unconditional. A love that was so strong that it could help you fight through anything that came before you. My dad became one of my best friends. He embodied everything that was good in the world and was an example of a great man and a great father. I feel blessed for each and every moment that I spent with him. For every memory I have of him; for ever conversation, for every hug, and every phone call.

Both of my kiddos loved my dad. They had a relationship with him that most children don't get with there grandparents. They were fortunate enough to be able to spend almost every day with him. My son and my dad had a relationship that was like no other. They were best friends and partners in crime. Jonathon taught my dad everything he knew about hockey.  Dad taught Jonathon all about tools and how to take everything apart:) He taught him about trains, airplanes, building things, and most importantly how to be a great man. Jonathon only ever knew my dad in a wheelchair. To him his Papa was healthy, his Papa was his hero, his best friend, and his entire world. He would run in through my parent's garage, run down the hall, into there room and jump right up into my dad's bed. He would snuggle up close. They would share a blankie, watch cartoons or ESPN, and chat about anything and everything...even when Dad couldn't understand most of what Jonathon was saying!  They were best friends.
One month ago today my dad lost his fight. It was very unexpected. He went into the hospital with another case of pneumonia. This wasn't anything out of the ordinary. It was a road we had traveled many times before. He would usually be released 4 or 5 days later after the antibiotics and breathing treatments cleared up his lungs. This time we were not as fortunate. This time his right lung was full and there was nothing they could do to help. Just 2 days later my dad passed away at home, in his bed, with his friends and family around him.

It has been a hard month. It still feels very surreal. I still expect him to come home some days. I spend most of my time thinking about him. Most of my alone time is spent crying. The hardest part is not my own pain, but the pain of my mom and my children. It is hard to see the people you love so upset and to know there is nothing you can do to help them. I struggle to stay strong, but I do my best because I know it is what my dad would want.
I miss my dad everyday. Some days the pain is unbearable. I realize now more then ever how special he was. He never made me feel like anything less then his daughter and his friend. So after spending most of my life as a girl without a dad... today I am a woman with a hero. I love you Dad!!!! 

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