My Dad, Jacob or Jake as he was known, was a celebrity, star in his own world. Funny, kind, positive, he used these qualities as a great story teller, singer and leader at his church. He attracted friends from all walks of life. Once you met Jake, you would never forget him. He was always ready for a good conversation and always interested in who you were.
Despite his positive disposition, Dad lived his life faced with various health issues. When he was a young man, working at San Jose Hospital, he agreed to help a friend move a piano. The piano slipped and broke his back. He was constantly in pain throughout his life from this injury and often had to receive surgery to relieve the discomfort. His life in his later years involved ailments associated with aging. My Dad was basically always in and out of hospitals. It was a way of life.
As a child, I didn't feel his hospital visits were particularly unusual or even frightening. My mother always presented his hospitalization as something normal. We'd go off to the hospital to visit. Once there, Dad always seemed to be holding court: greeting doctors, nurses and other co-workers with a smile on his face. As a child all I could see was that he wasn't frightened by the medical care he was receiving and he was surrounded by friends. Not a bad environment to be in.
As he became older, his relationship with his doctors grew more into friendships with a personal touch given to the type of care he received. My Dad never lost his ability to treat the hospital as his second home. His ailments grew more serious with age but he always had a ready smile and a greeting for a friend.
My Dad lived until the age of 87. He had quite a long life. With my recent diagnosis of Leukemia, I have felt his memory so close to me. There have been times that I physically felt his presence - almost in an embrace. It seems Dad has called on me to remember his strategies of dealing with health issues: face them don't fear them, do what is possible to overcome them, ask questions when needed and make friends with your community at the hospital.
It is my turn to create my community while in the hospital. The biggest surprise has been my ability to "channel" Dad while in the hospital. I know the names of doctors, nurses and other hospital staff. I chat with everyone. I question without alienating and manage to get through various procedures without getting hysterical. I'm a good patient - just as the nurses always said about Dad.
Dad prepared me for this journey. He gave me skills to deal with the multitude of treatments I have yet to receive. He showed me how to be fearless while facing overwhelming circumstances. He taught me how to create a nurturing environment, away from home and in a sterile medical environment. Love and caring exist in many odd places and I'm happy to say that Dad helped me find it here and now.
Thank-you Dad for being such a great teacher. I had no idea there were more lessons to be learned from you even after your departure from this world.
I miss you and love you,