My dad is a cancer survivor. Shortly after our twins were born, my Dad was diagnosed with renal cancer. Our family had just been adjusting to our new life with Zack's health needs and we had all hoped to have a break from 'bad news' for a while. While the 'pillar' of our family was fighting a fight we never thought he would have, we did see a vulnerable side of the proud, brave man who raised my sister and me. The man who had always been there for us, now needed our strength to get him through. We all approached his cancer with our new found 'lenses' of positivity, hope and prayers. In his first months on earth, our son Zack had taught us all amazing lessons.
To be patient.
To find strength within.
To believe in God.
To fight through adversity.
To believe in miracles.
To believe that we could make it through anything…together as a family.
During that difficult time my dad often said that if his grandson Zack could make it through his open heart surgery at two weeks old, overcome all the obstacles he had already surmounted after 6 months of life, then he could do it too.
What a gift for Zack to give his Poppa and what a gift for us to have many more years together with my wonderful Dad.
My husband is also a father. When you are a father of a child with Special Needs, sometimes those simple pleasures are not ever realized. It is often the Warrior Mommies in the spotlight for being advocates, nurses and cheerleaders for their children… but we couldn't do it without the men in our lives who support us along the journey.
What can I say about the man who made my wish come true..to be a mother? The man who is the father to my beautiful boys. The night I met Paul, I knew he would be a great father one day. My husband was an amazing and proud Dad to our first son, Ty. He participated in everything and never needed to be asked.
When our twins were born and Zack had so many health issues in the beginning, Paul was my rock. We cared for Jayden equally at home while we commuted to the hospital to see Zack. The night the boys were born, Zack was transferred to Sick Kids. I will never forget being at the hospital with Jayden in my arms, watching out of the window while Paul ran a red light to catch up to Zack in the ambulance. That night, my sweet, courageous and sensitive husband was by Zack's side to protect him. It was Paul who was the one to see the horrors that no parent should see that night and to feel the pain that no parent should feel. While I might have been the primary caregiver in Zack's life and the expert on his needs… it was Paul who was the first one to let Zack know that he would NEVER be alone. He taught me what strength really was. He bought Zack beautiful books to read to him in the Critical Care Unit. He sang to him and got to know all the staff so that he always knew who was watching his precious son. He befriended other parents in the Unit who had young children pass away from a traumatic injury. Paul sometimes drove in the middle of the night just to give Zack a kiss. He bragged when he was the first one to see Zack open his eyes and he swore it was because he heard his Daddy's voice. Paul was the parent who fought for him to survive his very first night. When we lost Zackie, it was Paul who held it together so I could fall apart. It was Paul who made most of the final plans, because I just wasn't strong enough.
He was the one who was Zack's first cheerleader. He was Zack's first advocate.
And now, he always creates a place of fun and laughter for our boys. He works so hard, but he also knows when I need a break and takes the boys for an adventure for breakfast or "guy stuff". Our boys love "Boys Night" at our house because Daddy has instituted a "Our Time, Our Rules" policy when I have a night out! After even our darkest times, the times when I just couldn't fake it, Paul will find a way to bring smiles back to our home. Jayden and Ty admire and emulate their Daddy and Zack's eyes always sparkled when "Dadada" entered the room. From Soccer Coach to Bath Time Manager to Chief Video Game Officer, Daddy is a true hero in our house and in our hearts.
For teaching me to carry on from the example you set so many years ago, for working tirelessly so that I could stay at home to care for our boys, for putting our family first and for continuing to make me feel like the love of your life… thank you, honey and Happy Father's Day.