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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An Amazing Man

Today is a bittersweet day. It is the birthday of my grandfather, my Pop. My Pop passed away nearly 16 years ago. It seems like only yesterday when he was buying me cookies n' cream ice cream and quietly encouraging me to reach my dreams. It has been over a decade, but I still miss him deeply.

The adjective "special" does not aptly describe Pop. He was quiet, but his devotion and love were steadfast. He was the true definition of unconditional love. I never doubted his love, and if he was ever disappointed in me, I never knew it.

Pop proudly served in the United States Air Force, and was active through three wars. He was deployed during World War 2, and suffered lifelong hearing loss because of the conflict. He loved his work, and he loved his country.

In many ways, I am glad that my Pop never lived to see me as an amputee. The surgeries, the pain and the heartache I endured through my journey would have broken his heart. I know that his support would never have wavered, although seeing me struggle would have caused him great pain.

Although he would have been distraught and saddened by my being an amputee, part of him would have been fascinated. Pop was the consummate "tinkerer." He loved to fix things, or to adjust them in some way. I have little doubt that he would have nabbed my prosthetic at the first opportunity because he wanted to "improve" it somehow.

Pop spent countless hours in his workshop, partly playing and partly escaping my grandmother. He was a devoted spouse, and the depths of his care-taking were only known after he passed away. My grandmother required an inordinate amount of care in her later years, and we never knew him to complain. He loved her. When her nagging became too much and he couldn't escape into the sanctuary of his workshop, he simply turned down his hearing aid.

He smoked, despite a heart attack and subsequent open heart surgery. He claimed that he had quit, although he often reeked of cigarette smoke mixed with Certs breath mints. We found his cigarettes after his death, hidden behind a ceiling tile. The smell of mint breath mints makes me miss him.

He loved to eat, and reveled at the "all you can eat" buffet. Because of his heart condition, my grandmother stopped using salt. Unfortunately for the family, she refused to introduce spices into her cuisine. My Pop made the most of every opportunity to eat. We often drove to the all you can eat restaurant separately because we knew that he would want to stay and continue his feast.

Today is my Pop's birthday, and although he is missed, I know that he is still present in my life. He has become my guardian angel. We often joke that he must not have a lot of seniority in heaven because he couldn't heal my leg and thwart my amputation. He is guiding my life through the "little gestures" and random kindnesses that beset me.

When I had my amputation, I developed a cerebral fluid leak through the epidural in my spine. The headache and nausea were unbearable. Although I was only 20 hours post-amputation, the pain caused from the cerebral fluid leak was more severe than the pain from the surgery.

I was prepped for a blood patch to stop the leak. I was desperate for relief as I was taken to the operating room. After poking and prodding at my veins for what seemed like an hour but was, in reality, probably only 10 minutes, the doctor became frustrated. He told me that he didn't think he was going to be able to draw enough "good blood" to alleviate the problem.

Despite the pain medications, I was suffering. I vividly remember closing my eyes, and quietly asking my Pop for help. After my silent plea, the doctor said, "Whatever you did worked, the blood is flowing now." My grandfather wasn't able to cure my foot, because this was too big of a job for such a new angel. Helping to make my blood flow was within his "new angel" abilities. Since this experience, I have always felt his presence.

My Pop had a way of making all of his grandchildren feel as if they were cherished. His face would brighten whenever we entered the room. I miss his warm, strong hugs and his soft, gentle voice. He would have adored being a great-grandfather.

I named my son after my grandfather and my cousin, who share the same name. When Robby was born, Scott and I debated on his name. Scott wanted to name him Brutus, in honor of The Ohio State Buckeyes. When I was holding my little newborn in the hospital, I instantly missed my Pop. I knew that I would name my son after this amazing man. Robert was the perfect name for my little miracle.

I have already told Robby about my grandfather. Although he will never have the opportunity to know Pop, it is important that Robby know about and appreciate him. He was an amazing man, and he is thought about often. I am blessed to have known him, and honored to be his granddaughter. I hope that I am making him proud.

1 comment:

  1. Yea, you made me miss him also, which I actually do often. Our Grandfather was proof that it is not what you say, but what you do and how you act that matters. He NEVER said anything he didnt back up, he was honest, forthright and dedicated to all of us and I am honored every day to be named after him, as I am sure Robby will be.

    Happy Birthday Pop.