My father fought a brain lymphoma for 2 years. The first visit to the doctor was due to a weird diction problem. He was not pronouncing words properly. The tumor was deep and was affecting his ability to control muscles in the mouth. During two years, ups and downs, he lost more abilities. Fine motor skills faded, and at a certain point in time he couldn't type in his blackberry anymore, and would never do it again. Instead he asked us to type messages for him. He slowly lost sight too. Started as double vision and degraded until he couldn't read anymore. His diction problems worsened over time, to the extent that he had to learn to speak again. I will never forget that scene where my mother was training two syllables words with him while cooking in the kitchen. She would say: "me-sa", and my father would try to repeat: "me-sa". "li-sa". And he tried: "li-sa". Just like a mother would do with a 2 year old. It was so tender and heartbreaking. My mother would look for an excuse to leave the kitchen and break into tears elsewhere. That dreadful regression, unstoppable and fatal, looming over such an innocent attitude, was unbearable (can hardly type the words right now, to be honest).
Same thing happened with his ability to walk. He started losing balance, and we had to keep an eye on him just in case. Then he definitely needed someone by his side. Then he had problems standing up, and we would help him take steps, "right foot. Well! Left foot, a little more. Ok!" Then came the wheel chair. Then he would never take one more step.
The regression happened slowly. His attitude never changed. Always resisted, always worked against it, and ultimately accepted it. Never heard him complain. Never saw him cry in impotence. He went away, somehow, like a Benjamin Button, slowly becoming a child, innocent and well intentioned.
I'm sorry I had to take you through this, but there are two reasons for it. First, the lesson is hidden in the pain: that life gives us gifts that we cannot see until we are painfully aware of them. That we are lucky. Lucky to talk, lucky to be able to type this post, lucky to stand up and grab a glass of water, lucky to drink that water and not suffocate, lucky to live in this house, lucky to have my father by my side. All those things we take for granted, and focus so often on the annoyances of life. That I work too much, that he is not fair, that I'm too tired, that life's so hard, that she doesn't understand. Every moment in your life, this one in which you are reading this post, you can choose to feel privileged or miserable. It's your choice. But a good dose of reality, of the reality of this very world in which you live in, will necessarily teach you an unquestionable truth: we are all gifted. Don't you ever forget it, feel grateful every moment, specially on hard times. It's all a matter of perspective, when framed properly, life can only be a wonder.
The second reason to take you through this is that he passed away three years ago today, and I feel the need to share the lessons he taught, specially on those hard days, for which I too feel extraordinarily grateful, despite the sorrow. Thanks dad.