This was published in March 2011, and I may or may not have reposted this at a another time but I feel it deserves to be posted again.
Sit up straight. Stand up. No slouching. I find myself telling, okay screaming at my kids to do this at the dinner table, at the movies, in a restaurant, ALL the TIME. I remember my parents telling; okay screaming at me and my sisters about this too. Funny how times change, how I am really becoming my mother (sans the insane cleaning sessions on Saturday, or ummmm…ever), and yes my father. I am becoming my father too, right down to the “um, it might be MS, not sure, but let’s keep you under close observation”.
Oh my father, my dear old dad this man battling MS for over 37 years and has been confined to a wheelchair for over 12 years has taught me so many life lessons; beside playing cards in the pool, to surface cleaning so we can get out of the house quickly…you know just dust the tops of the furniture, rearrange the couch cushions, and to basically “straighten” (sorry mom!), and how to eloquently bust balls with the best of them. My father is the best ball buster in the world, from throwing wet wash cloths on our face to wake us up; to teasing me about getting back to my “fighting weight”, to actually telling one of my brothers-in-laws to run when he asked for my sister’s hand in marriage, yes in between all that he has taught us valuable life lessons.
He taught us to Stand Tall. Fight for what you believe in. Don’t back down. EVER.
My father is the definition of Standing Tall while facing adversity straight on. He takes his MS like a man. He deals with it, he doesn’t complain, he certainly bust our shoes, but never complains while he watches his wife, my mom, tirelessly take care of it ALL, from making sure the oven gets repaired to hiring a landscaper to balancing the family budget to caring for my dads every need to accepting nurses, aides, therapists into their home to making countless doctor appointments, scheduling MRI’s, hospital visits, to watching his five daughters brush his teeth, or his hair, or to scratch that itch that he just can’t get to. He Stands Tall; he may bust our balls while doing it but he Stands Tall.
My father is the most authentic person I know, he has an unbelievable and amazing character. He’s not a coward. He doesn’t tear people down to boost up a fragile little ego, he voices his opinion, and respect other people’s right to voice theirs too, he respects those around him, and most importantly respects himself.
I find myself working hard to do the same, so I can Stand Tall and be proud of whom I am regardless of what life throws my way. I’ve made a pact with myself to work hard at not being judgmental, to being positive force, to letting go of the negative thoughts and to be a kind, caring person; it’s hard work, but worth it when my son comes home with the “Strength in Character” award from school it means we’re successful, and teaching our children that it’s important to Stand Tall.
My dad Stands Tall All.The.Time.
In his 37 years with MS, I have NEVER heard him say “Why me?” He fought as hard as he could to literally Stand Tall. Through needles, physical therapists, doctor appointments, leg braces, compression socks, blisters, bed sores, to falling over our banister and hitting the basement floor all 200 pounds of him, to not being able to lift his foot off the gas pedal going 40 mph on a local street thinking that he may just crash, to allowing a virtual stranger (now a family hero) shower him, dress him, cut his toe nails he Stands Tall.
Now in a wheelchair for life, I must admit I totally feel that we were ROBBED of our father, and that my children are being ROBBED of their grandfather. The first time in my well-adjusted post-therapy life that these feelings have surfaced, I hate MS and what it has done to my family. My children, nieces and nephews will NEVER know the playful side of my father because he can’t play with them, they will never hear his stories because the wheelchair is kinda scary to them. They will never see their grandparents dance, or their grammy being relaxed, because when one partner has MS there is no relaxing; you are in constant perpetual motion because you need to meet someone else’s need ALL.THE.TIME.
When these feelings flood my delicate brain I have started to retrain my thinking and say “well, my dad might not be able to teach them how to hold a bat, or to shoot craps (yes craps, got something to say about it?) BUT he is teaching them valuable life lessons anyway, lessons that are so essential to living a good quality life”.
My dad (and my mother for that matter) are teaching my children to face adversity with respect and dignity; embrace diversity by accepting people for who they are not the color of their skin, who they sleep with (unless you’re that tramp who tried sleep with my husband in Puerto Vallarta in 1996) or because they have a disability.
In between the farts, fights over the DSI, and me trying to convince my sons that vegetables are yummy I will continue to morph into my dad (hopefully sans the MS), and will teach my children the lessons I learned from my him, to Stand Tall – at the dinner table, and in character, of course as I bust their chops to the best of my ability.
I now leave you with a few “sayings” that my father reiterates to us on an almost daily basis, these help us all as we stumble through life:
and my all time favorite: