Posted by: sistermom1 | October 19, 2009

Daddy

Three months after I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, my father passed away due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.  He never really knew that I was ill – just that something was wrong with me.  He kept trying to give me Robitussin every time he saw me.  It makes me smile even now, but four years after his death, I am still reeling.  As the youngest daughter — I was always close to my wonderful father.  He was a great provider, a wonderfully soft place for my two brothers and sister and me to fall all of the time, and a great example of a distinguished and loving husband and father.  I miss him terribly.  Many friends ask me when I finally came to grips with losing him.  My response is still —  “I will let you know.” 

My father was physically handicapped.  He contracted polio as a young child in rural Mississippi – one of the last victims of the disease before the vaccine became available.  He was the youngest of 5 children born to an itinerant preacher and his wife in 1922, and the only child of that marriage to graduate from callege and earn a graduate degree. 

After running a pharmacy for several years, Daddy decided that he was interested in attending medical school.  He already had earned a double degree in Math and Physics at Morehouse College (ok, the man was brilliant!) as well as a degree in Pharmacy.  At that time in the US, black students were not permitted to attend medical schools in the South.  If they lived in Mississippi and did apply and were accepted, the State paid for them to be educated at another school – usually a HBCU – as long as they were not educated in an integrated setting in the state.  My father used this to apply for and receive the financial support to attend Meharry Medical School.  He eventually went on to earn an advanced degree in Psychiatry from the University of Pittsburgh.

As you can tell, my father was a strong, bright, amazing man.  He worked hard every day of his life, and provided his family with a phenomenal life where we wanted for nothing that I can remember.  Daddy’s example continues to be a major inspiration to me.  I know what it is like to be the child of someone who is physically handicapped, and I hope to be half of the example to our kids that he was to us growing up.

One of the latest realizations I have had is remembering what it was like to have a disabled parent.  One difference between my experience and that of my children is that my father was handicapped for his entire life.  My kids were 8 and 5 by the time I was diagnosed with MS, so they have memories of me dancing, running, skiing, jumping off of high diving boards, trick-or-treating, and driving them to all of their extra-curricular activities.  Since 2007, I have not been able to do any of those things which has really made a huge difference in my life as a wife and mother.

There is so much more to share about my wonderful father, and I will do that in other blog entries.

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