This I Believe

Sam - Sunnyvale, California
Entered on June 21, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, hope, illness

Like most people, I believe in many things, but my greatest belief is in my father’s spirit, love, and selflessness.

I have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a degenerative muscle-wasting disease that has confined me to a wheelchair for more than half of my nineteen years of life. Because I am physically limited, my father takes care of me: I rely on him for getting out bed, dressing, eating, brushing my teeth, and for many other things. I turn to him with my worries and fears regarding the continuous struggle with my disease. He knows exactly how to motivate me to stay strong and how to put a smile on my face every day.

My dad does not act his age. Sure, he’s my dad, but he is also my buddy. And like friends usually do, we complement each other in many ways. We are silly, laid-back, and inquisitive. Ours interest coincide. We love military history, corny sci-fi shows, and action movies. We talk about everything, from politics to the awesomeness of Batman. I guess you could say that we mirror each other.

A few years ago I had major spinal surgery to correct scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine. I admit I was scared; I was scared more than any other time in my life. With any surgery there is the possibility of severe injury or death, and this was no different. Like any parent, my dad comforted me. He didn’t need to tell me he would be there for me; I knew he would be.

I was in the hospital for two weeks. My dad spent eight hours each and every day by my bedside, including those days when I was not lucid. One night he brought a movie and watched it with me, even though he knew I would probably not remember seeing it. After going home I needed full bed rest for the first month of my recovery period and near constant care for several months afterward. He barely worked during that time, managing to get only a few hours work each day. Luckily, his job allowed him to do it. Though, I think he would have taken care of me even if he had to quit his job.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the harsh reality of life and the struggle to remain smiling. Then I think of my dad, and how he inspires me. How day in and day out he is always there for me. He makes me believe in him with all my heart.