Well, Father's Day was yesterday, but I didn't get on the computer AT ALL as part of my "gift" to my wonderful hubster, he heh.
my dad as a toddler in the 50's
(my dad's dad, Grandpa James Alton Smith, who also died of leukemia before I was born).
But I did want to write a little about my Dad. He was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphacitic Leukemia when I was 6 months old. He underwent 2 bone marrow transplants, complete sterilized isolation, various rounds of chemo and radiation, a spleenectomy... He then developed squamous cell carcenoma in the face from his radiation poisoning throughout the years. He had almost all of his teeth removed, bones in his face removed as well as his upper palate in his mouth. He had exposed bone in his cheek that he covered with a thin gauze until he was healthy enough to receive a skin graft to patch the hole up that his skull peeked through.
He was fed through a feeding tube in his stomach for a couple of years and I still remember hearing him scream from the hospital waiting room the day he had it removed. So many memories. 14 different times, we were told as a family to go home and prepare funeral arrangements. 14 times.
His body was his worst enemy, a total wreck. He went almost completely blind, couldn't hardly speak, he couldn't go in the sunlight, walk, read... which was so sad because he loved outdoor sports like hiking and he was an avid reader and talker/jokester. He endured vigorous and painful excersizes to restretch his mouth with a large rubber mouth block, so he could speak a little. His frail frame wasted away. His eyes were uneven, food sprang from them like tears when he attempted to eat. He considered having one of them removed. Some people stared, even adults who knew better laughed at his Frankenstein like face, for it was horribly disfigured from all the bone removal and skin grafts over much of it. Wretched people, he didn't choose this!
But he kept on. He caught when doctors misdiagnosed him several times because he did his own studying (before the days of easy internet research.) He broke isolation by leaving his sterilized room (which can be fatal for a zero immune system patient after a bone marrow transplant) because the nurses wouldn't check him that his lungs were filling up with fluid... had he not taken that step, he would have drowned and died within minutes. He could barely lift his head or finger, he was so weak, but he knew he had to somehow get out of the bed, walk across the room and open the door to save his life. He did, then collapsed on the tile floor.
He continued writing poems and songs, he told jokes and was a master storyteller, even volunteering at children's camps. He dressed up in clown costumes and did cartwheels to make THEM feel better. He loved God and trusted in his plan, never cursed him or asked "Why me?". He accepted his challenge with fate and learned from him, perfected himself because of it throguh Christ's example. He continued on his spiritual journey and inspired so many through his struggles and sunny outlook. He was a total refined and perfected being.
my dad, who was a Ranger, sharp shooter and 2nd lieutenant, in this ROTC at BYU pic around 1976
His last email to the family he wrote was, "I am going to have this thing beat in June." He died June 1st 2002, and so, he DID beat it in June. His beautiful spirit was no longer confined by a broken and agonizing painfully weakened body. A nurse injected him with a dirty needle and he got MRSA in the blood. It happened at the VA... many many many horrible things happen at the VA, news and lawsuit worthy things, but you can't sue the government. His end came in the same hospital that I later delivered my two children in. I was in Utah at the time of his death. My mother called me with the news and I was in denial. I flew home to say goodbye and never looked back. His death changed me for the better, as I strive to live up to his example if I can.
he was always so cute, with such a happy grin and bright eyes
I love you and miss you, you would love my husband, you would be the best father in law and grandfather. But I know that you escorted my children's spirits here, I know you were there on my wedding day and I know you watch out for us. I love you and will see you again Daddy!
my sis, homecoming queen, my dad, and me, 1998