One Sentence Sums Up All I Need to Know About Being a Special Needs Dad
He coached my Little League baseball team. He taught me how to drive. He coached my high school basketball team. He drove me off to my dorm for my freshman year of college.
When I got married, he was my best man in my wedding. When my son was born, he was waiting in the hospital room to see his new grandson. When I bought my first house, he went with me to meet with the realtor for the first time.
When I left a high paying corporate career and sold my dream house to start a special-needs ministry, he gave me his support. When I lay in a hospital bed fighting for my life a couple of months ago, he and my mom drove down to sit in my hospital room almost every day. While he and my mom stayed in our house with our son with special needs, they bought us a new fridge and a new outdoor grill.
Now he drives me every week on a 160-mile round trip journey to visit my medical team. And when we stop for lunch on the way home, he always buys.
When I finish a dialysis treatment, I always find him waiting for me in the lobby to drive me home. And every couple of weeks, knowing I’m on a special kidney diet, he grills me a dozen diet-approved, specially seasoned steak-burgers.
He stops by my office once a week just to check on me. The other day I thanked him once again for driving me around while my leg is in a cast, and he replied, “I have nothing else to do but take care of you.”
My dad has taken care of me for 48 years now.
He only needed 11 words to define our relationship as father and son for the past 48 years.
Eleven words to teach me all I needed to know about being a dad.
“I have nothing else to do but take care of you.”
I’ve often said I wasn’t ready to be the father of a child with special needs.
I have written about how I was not prepared, not equipped and did not know how to be the dad to a child with special needs.
But last week, I realized I’ve been wrong. I did know all I needed to know about being a dad to a son with special needs.
I knew what mattered most because he has demonstrated it to me.
I know how to embrace a son with unconditional love. I know how to be involved and engaged. I know my primary job is to simply take care of my son.
Quite simply, I know how to be there.
Love requires no words for expression.
If you want to determine the depth of a father’s strength, you must measure the depths of his unconditional love for his child. His strength isn’t determined by the size of his muscles but rather by the size of his heart for his family.
That’s why my dad is the strongest man I know.
Last night as my son Jon Alex and I sat quietly in the swing, I leaned over and whispered, “Never forget, I will love you forever. I will always take care of you.”
It’s the one lesson my dad taught me. And it’s the one thing that matters most.
Thanks for the lesson, Dad.
Follow this journey on Goodnight Superman.
The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one unexpected source of comfort when it comes to your (or a loved one’s) disability and/or disease? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “Share Your Story” page for more about our submission guidelines.