My father taught me, by actions and words, the importance of having inner strength. “I can’t” were not part of my father’s vocabulary. Nothing was more indicative of this than when, while crossing the street one day, he was struck by a speeding car and left for dead.
As he lay in his hospital bed following surgery to stabilize him, he smiled at each of us gathered around bed as if to say, “Don’t worry, I’ll be okay.” The smile was recognizable but my father was not. Such was his strength. This was only the beginning of his display of vast innter resources for he had a difficult road ahead of him yet.
He spent a full year in the hospital stoically enduring many surgeries, including eight bone grafts. Not once did I hear him complain about the injustice of his situation. His attitude was that since he couldn’t change what had happened, he wasn’t going to make everyone else’s life miserable because of it. Not once when I visited him was there not a cheerful smile upon his face. From this I learned not to take myself too seriously.
During my father’s long hospital stay, we became closer and through our conversations, I heard the love he felt for his family woven into every sentence. With this, he taught me the value of family and the power of love.
My father went home in a wheelchair but he decided early that this was not going to hold him back. Determined to be productive, he started a coffee wagon business out of his home. With this, he taught me that giving up is never an option.
Determinedly building his strength he graduated to crutches and then a cane and eventually was able to walk on his own again. With this grand achievement, he taught me that wishing for something won’t make it happen; you have to work for it.
Although he was never able to return to his job as a hospital orderly, he always looked at his cup as being half full and was happy for what he had. He accepted what could not be changed and worked on what could be. He believed that you can always ask for more but you have to be grateful for what you do have.
Unfortunately, this was not the end of my father’s need to rely on his inner strength. A few years after his accident, cancer struck him a terrible blow. Discovering cancer of the colon, he was operated on immediately. Ten days later, he was operated on for cancer of the lung.He was undaunted. Remaining optimistic, he encouraged his family to be also. Then ten months after that, he developed cancer of the lymph nodes. My father died less than a year after his first cancer was discovered.
Although we lost this wonderful man, he left us far richer than if he had been a millionaire. He lived his values and always displayed strength of character. He taught us that every day of our life is a fresh page and the choice is ours what we choose to write on that blank piece of paper. We can make it a good story or a bad story.