It seems like a lifetime ago when I got the call on a cold November day. I was distracted that day with planning for the arrival of my first son, worried that his butt first presentation would mean a c-section. My three other babies were in the throws of cabin fever as we had been stuck inside for days in our cramped little apartment on the third floor. I was at my wits end, and then the phone rang.
As my belly heaved with the life of my unborn son I knew that what was being imparted to me over the phone was important and life changing. Words like Cancer, Amyloidosis, bone marrow transplant, chemotherapy, and might not make it, flowed over me like waves. I held my composure through that phone call for the most part (I think) knowing that all I could do was try not to fall apart. My first inclination was to get to my Dad, but as I was in the late third term of my forth pregnancy, and my father would be in isolation while prepping for a bone marrow transplant, making the trip across the country was not only pointless, but dangerous.
All I could do was sob helplessly in my husbands arms as my brain went through the worst case scenarios. As I did my own research on the disease and what it could mean for my Father I knew that I wasn’t being told everything. Sometimes filling in the blanks is worse than knowing the truth.
But he held on.
My Dad held on through countless tests and procedures meant to prepare his body for the transplant that was to save his life, even though few thought he would. He held on through chemotherapy that ravaged his body and killed off his immune system. He held on through the stem cell transplant.
He held on and he got stronger.
Six weeks after delivering my 4th child, and after getting the all clear from my physician, I got onto the plane that would carry me to my Dad’s side. Up until that point I had almost convinced myself that maybe things weren’t as bad as I had thought. Seeing my father gaunt, weak, and beardless for the first time in my life convinced me otherwise.
Perhaps it was because I had built my father up to be the perfect mountain man in my mind. Strong, determined and enterprising, in my eyes my father was invincible. The man I saw before me, while unbreakable, was certainly human. It was at that point that I finally saw my father as equal, someone that could be broken and beaten, but come back fighting. The realization shook me to the core.
All of that washed over me in those first few seconds of seeing him sitting on my aunts couch. I can only hope that I managed to conceal my inner turmoil from him in those first few seconds. As soon as I sat down beside my Dad all of my uncertainties and worries washed away as he held on and connected with his first grandson, and held on to me. I knew that if anyone could beat Amyloidosis it would be my dad.
I was right.
Here we are 10 years to the day of his transplant. His reBirth-day as it were.
In the past 10 years we’ve had a number of close calls, a lot of tears, and a life altering car accident that added to his miseries, but he’s rallied every time. He beat the odds and beat a disease that the doctors were convinced would beat him. He’s proven beyond a doubt that miracles are possible, and that a positive attitude gets you further than you think. Whenever I think I can’t accomplish something, or am feeling a little bit down I just have to remind myself of the wonderful gift of life that my Dad has been given.
My Father has always led by example and he has taught me so much about living gently, loving deeply, and not only surviving but thriving. I am so thankful for the gifts he has been given.
Happy Birthday Dad. I love you.