Tara and I didn’t sleep well. Poor Tara was feeling sick. Finally after being restless with a headache, puking and fainting, she felt better. Fifth’s disease is going around the class. There was no rash, but I’m watching her closely.
On the way to the hospital I stop into a drugstore. We go some children’s tylenol and I found some elastic laces! I had been looking for elastic laces. Your OT wanted me to get some. I had never heard of them. I imagined them to be elastic but I thought that there as possibly more to them. I thought that I would have to make them from elastic from the fabric store. There they were, on an end display shelf, like they were a hot item that was in great demand. Black elastic laces. Just elastic laces … no fancy tying device … just the lace … for $6. I felt a little ripped off paying $6 for two strands of black elastic, but at least it is off my ‘to do’ list.
We install the elastics in your shoes. They are great. You can slip off your running shoes easily but they still feel snug on your feet. I make a mental note to still go to the fabric store and get more elastic. Maybe I still go to the fabric store and get different coloured elastic lace like material for all our running shoes!
We try to decide how to spend our family time for the weekend. At the nurse’s suggestion, we practiced some car transfers in the parking lot. “It’s good to practice.” She said “In case you get stuck then you can call up for some help while you are still here.”
You talk me through how to be the best help and we practice several times. You make it easy. Based on the successful transfers, we decide to go see ‘Avatar’. The nurses think that it’s too a long movie and you would get tired. You and I look at the children and realize that we can’t disappoint them. They have wanted to see the movie. You smile a daddy-smile and said “Let’s go to Avatar!”
We ate lunch and filled out our Post-it notes for Valentines day. Tara helps you get organized for yours and I help Quinn with his spelling. Once the notes were tucked away, away from peekers. We got ready for the movie.
This was your first time in the car in almost 6 months. First time that you are my passenger in your car. I wasn’t nervous like I usually am when I have driven with you in the past. On the rare occasion that I would drive, you would make many comments. On some trips, You would hand out as many comments per mile as the Honda Fit would get in gas mileage!
Today, only once, you politely suggested that I “gear up to the 5th”. I was pleased. You were pleased with my driving ‘skill’. There is no doubt, the stroke has changed the way you think. You are far more supportive and you are becoming an expert at positive affirmations. The children and I all feel it.
We get to the IMAX in fair time. Unfortunately, we couldn’t sit together. You were limited by your chair and we were limited by the available seats. I suspected that the 3-D technology of the movie would be lost on you and maybe somewhat lost on me. You have no left and I have reduced right side vision. Essentially, we have a good pair of eyes between us.
The children really enjoyed the movie but weren’t overly impressed with the 3-D effect. Maybe it’s because their time in front of a 2-D screen is somewhat limited. Their flexible minds, which are used to filling in the blanks everyday, are able to make up the difference easily and they automatically see 3-D when watching 2-D.
I was amazed at the 3-D effect and you didn’t get it at all. There wasn’t much of the movie that you did get. We were sitting to the right side of the screen which, I think, may have accounted for part of it. Although your head was turned towards the screen, the IMAX feature was probably lost on you too because of the seating location in the theatre. I thought that you would have fallen asleep, but you didn’t, you were too uncomfortable in the borrowed oversized wheelchair. You re-named ‘Avatar’ ‘Avastroke’ because it was difficult to follow.
I learned a few things today. You are a cheap date – not special effects needed to impress you. Stick to shorter films and more realistic topics for now until your mind can be a bit more flexible.
We decide to eat dinner away from the hospital. We are all getting cabin fever … from being cooped up in institutions for too long. We need a change of scenery. At first I thought we’d go the East Side Marios, but I missed the driveway so we hit the next restaurant on that side of the road. Boston Pizza. This appealed to you. I’m not sure if it was because of the word ‘Boston’ as in marathon or ‘Pizza’ as in your favorite food. We decided to go in.
It would be a good 30-minute wait but we passed the time playing games and talking to people. As we wait, the children notice all sorts of large red hearts taped to the wall. The hearts had love messages, names and good wishes. My vet mind spotted a number of pet names. Clearly it was some sort of fundraiser. I wondered what the fundraiser was for.
The restaurant was loud and if was difficult to talk. We had to talk loud to hear each other. You were on another ‘I don’t want to be a burden’ streak. Quinn overhears your words. He wanted to know what a burden was. I didn’t know how to answer him. With the movie ‘Avatar’ fresh in my mind and a few moments to think of it, I came up with an explanation.
“A burden is something that you had to do that you don’t want to do. Imagine that I give you a big rock and told you that you had to carry it with you wherever you go. It is a big, heavy rock. You can’t eat it, it has sharp jagged edges and it isn’t even all that pretty. It is hard work to carry it and you have to do it all the time, even while you are sleeping. That’s a burden.”
Immediately Quinn replies, “You are NOT a burden Daddy, we love you and you love us. You are a Daddy.” I point out to you that when the children were helpless infants, we didn’t think of them as a burden. We thought of ourselves as privileged to be caring for our human miracles. You are a miracle and we love you. I try to rally you to the next level. ‘If you saw yourself as a stroke victim, you might be a bit of a burden. But you are a miracle stroke survivor. That makes you an inspiration.”
I want ‘Survivor’ to replace how you are trying to see yourself. You are not a victim and a burden you are a miracle survivor and an inspiration.
We had a good meal with more food then we could eat. We asked for a ‘doggy bag’ and the waitress asked us if we would to buy a heart for a dollar. “What’s the money for?” I asked. “For Heart and Stroke Foundation” she replied “We started this at the beginning of February and so far this restaurant alone has raised over $12,000!” Tara, Quinn and I looked surprise when you said to the server “I had a stroke. We’ll take four hearts please.”
We all took time to consider what we would write. Quinn started. In his neatest writing he wrote a simple and to the point message. ‘My Dad had a stroke and he lived because he loves me.’ Not to be outdone, Tara followed with ‘To Chris, My Daddy. My Dad had a stroke and he lived because he loves me, I won’t be living if it weren’t of him Love Tara.’ You wrote ‘Gwendolyn and Chris – I love Gwen dearly’ and finally I wrote: ‘My husband was an organ donor on Aug 30th 2009. Today he is a stroke SURVIVOR’
It was a very therapeutic exercise. You got to hear from the children how much they love you. Tara’s clearly stated the importance of you in her life. Recently, you have been saying that I am good at doing all the parenting. I’m not. I can’t be both parents. Children have and need two parents for a reason. You are their father. No one can be their father like you can. When I asked Tara to explain her comment she said, “Daddy taught me things that you never knew about, Mum. That’s why he is such an important part of my life.”
On the way home, Tara had a go at trying to tell you how important you are. She tells you about a true story that she read in the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ book. There was a story that really moved her. A story about a little girl who never knew her biological father. As a young person she found a father figure but she didn’t acknowledge the role he played in her life until after his death. Tara and Quinn are lucky, they know who their father is and they have been waiting patiently for you to be their Daddy fulltime again.