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Sunday, October 5, 2008

My Dad

My Father became very ill in late September. For several weeks he was unconscious and in a Polio like paralysis. We eventually found out that he has tested positive for the West Nile Virus.

West Nile affects people differently, some get it and they don't even know it, some just have flu like symptoms for a few days, while others will get headaches that last for days. Currently there is no cure for West Nile, the body just needs to fight off the virus on it's own. In some cases, West Nile can lead to further complications, such as Meningitis (inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord), Encephalitis (an acute inflammation of the brain), and Spinal meningitis (an infection of the fluid and membranes around the brain and spinal cord.) My father has all three of these conditions. He has already suffered nerve damage and was in a Polio like paralysis. He has been on a respirator for 16 days since he is unable to breathe on this own. While the nerve can regenerate itself (about 1" every 30 days), I'm told his lower body muscles will die without signal from brain leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Furthermore there is additional neurological damage. This damage would leave him mentally incapacitated where he may or may not recognize us and/or be coherent. The outcome of this would require long term physical care.

On many occasions my father has indicated to each of us in the family that he did not wish to ever continue in a situation like this. On Tuesday afternoon September 30th 2008, we honored his request and had the medical staff remove him from the life supporting ventilator and as a result he passed away peacefully at 2pm.

My Father was a believer and we know that today he has joined Jesus in Paradise.

Always Close By and Always Available

My Dad was always close by and always available.

His words and achievements were like that of any normal man. However, what made my Dad extraordinary was his presence.

His presence was like a warm fireplace or a sturdy porch swing or a big branched elm tree, he was always a source of comfort. He could always be found … and leaned upon.

During the turbulent years of our adolescence, Dad was a large part of our lives that was predictable. Girl friends came and girl friends went, but Dad was there. Football season turned into baseball season and turned in to football season again and Dad was there. Whether is was dates, homework, my first car, or playing catch in the yard—they all had one thing in common; his presence.

And because he was there life went smoothly for us. The car always ran, the bills got paid, and the lawn stayed mowed. Because he was there, we kids never worried about things like income tax, savings accounts, monthly bills or mortgages, and we never went without. Because of him our future was secure.

He did what dads are supposed to do—be there. Through his example, he taught me right and wrong. He modeled the importance of getting up early, working hard and caring for others. And I knew if I ever needed him, he’d be there.

Because he was there my growing up was what God intended growing up to be for us, a safe place where we could be trained.

I know that times of trouble and testing will come for me (us) in the future. Even though he’s gone, my memory of him and his example will always be very near.

As far as Dad’s are concerned, I had one of the best and I want to thank my heavenly Father for providing him. I pray as time goes on, God allows me to continue to follow his example and be the best Husband, Dad, Brother, Uncle and Friend that I can be.