I always wanted to write a post about my dad, because I think he is a remarkable man. This seems a fitting day to finally do so.
Growing up I never thought my dad was strong. He didn’t fling me on his shoulders for a piggy-back ride, or twirl me around until I was drunk with dizziness. I had my mom for those things. I always thought as mom as the stronger parent. At the time, little did I know that my dad had to be careful with his physical activity. As a boy he was diagnosed with kidney disease, and was living on dialysis as a young adult and well into fatherhood. At approximately the age of 36, dad was given devastating news. The dialysis was no longer working and he was living on borrowed time. My family was living in the tiny jewel of a country, Belize, Central America back then. Surrounded by the Caribbean sea, with an abundance of fresh coconut water and swaying palms. Dad had a good job working as the Prime Minister’s Aid in office, when he had to leave his job because he was too ill to work any longer. It must have been such a hard time for dad, as his primary focus was providing well for his family.
With five young children, and putting all their resources together, mom and dad sought a second opinion and hope in the United States, specifically the Big Easy. When the medical team in New Orleans gave them the same grim diagnosis, they returned to Belize and waited for the inevitable. Dad needed a kidney transplant, and this was deemed as the impossible. This is when mom prayed. She asked God not to leave her alone as a single parent with five children to raise. Mom prayed. Mom waited…..
Months later, dad was still hanging on, living on dialysis, his veins weak, black and blue and swollen. A family friend, Anna, had immigrated to Canada, and Anna gave them some promising news. In Canada, health care was free and doctors where performing organ transplants. Could this be the answer mom was waiting for? It was in the initial stages, and the procedure of transplanting organs was still very precarious. There were only a few cases in Canada, not all successful. They took their chances. In a couple of months, my family was given permanent residence status in Canada, however, that was only the beginning. It was the late 60’s and immigrating was fairly straight forward and encouraged to this vast northern country where a dynamic young Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, welcomed immigrants. That was only the first step. Was dad ever going to find a donor match? They got the call on Saturday morning. A young man died tragically and suddenly in a motor cycle crash on highway 401. The young man had signed the donor card. After a battery of tests, it was determined that the young man and dad were a perfect match! This young man died in a devastating accident, but he gave my dad such a beautiful gift, he gave my dad a second chance at life. A part of him lives on in my dad and I am eternally grateful.
Dad and his doctors are pioneers in organ transplants. The innovation and vision of science and medicine were gifts from God. Truly a divine intervention. Through Him all things are possible. His health must have returned and dad’s body never rejected the kidney, because two years later, I was born and dad was working full time with the provincial government. I learned many things from dad. Things are always possible. When death was a constant presence in his young life, dad still persevered. No, he never could spin me in the air, chase me in the park, but he was strong. Dad is and was mentally strong.
Many types of strength and many types of Dads. Wishing my dear dad and all you dads a blessed Father’s Day. May you always find your strength.
Read more about my dad’s, Mr. Maurice Longsworth’s life-saving transplant at http://www.tgwhf.ca/newsmedia/roys/2006_roys_winter.pdf