WHEN EVERY DAY IS FATHER'S DAY
June 16, 2007
(Phoenix, AZ) Author: Robert Leger, The Arizona Republic Estimated printed
My father fell off a truck last year, banging his head against asphalt and
landing in intensive care.
My mother was furious at him. Why couldn't he act his age, instead of doing
things more appropriate to someone 20 years younger?
And then she -- with all of the family -- worried. An MRI showed bruising in his
brain. Doctors warned the bruise could grow. Dad was in a haze. He didn't know
the year. He knew my mother was his wife, but couldn't come up with her name. He
slipped into speaking Spanish, the language of his childhood.
On his second day at the Mayo Clinic Hospital, the doctor pulled my mother and
me aside. The bruise had stabilized, which was a good thing, he said. As for the
future? The brain is a mysterious organ. Some people recover completely from
such an injury, the doctor said. The tone in his voice emphasized the unspoken
The next day Dad went home. Physical side effects made him miserable the first
few days. But far worse was his difficulty with speech. He could visualize an
object but couldn't find the word. Every conversation became a game of charades.
He became frustrated when we couldn't understand what he was trying to say. His
temper grew shorter and shorter.
The future looked anything but bright. On top of this, my parents' 50th
anniversary was two months away. We had a big party planned. Would he be well
enough for it, or would everyone have a horrible time? Should we cancel?
But my father, he's tough. He started physical, vocational and speech rehab at
Scottsdale Healthcare, expecting a long-term process. But one by one, the
therapists dismissed him. Speech took the longest -- five or six weeks -- and
the therapist sighed when she said there was no reason to continue. No one
should have recovered from such a head injury in so short a time.
That's my father. The youngest of 14, he's never shrunk from a challenge.
This was bigger than becoming an Air Force pilot or buying out his employer's
business or teaching my sister to parallel park, but he faced it with the same
attitude that nothing but success was possible.
The anniversary party was joyous. My father, wearing a tuxedo, danced with young
women, shared stories with his brothers and sisters, enjoyed every toast. It was
a celebration of more than an anniversary.
It's a celebration I cherish every day. I nearly lost my father through a stupid
accident. He's back. He still stumbles over a word now and then, but he hides it
well. He continues to work as a salesman, using words and his personality to
close a deal. We golf. He comes to my sons' football and basketball games. Far
more mechanical than I, he helps me solve mysteries like the irrigation system.
And sometimes, we just sit on the patio, enjoying the evening air, talking about
nothing much over a beer. These are the best times, because after last year,
every day is Father's Day.
Contact Robert Leger at Robert.email@example.com or (602) 444-6805.
CAPTION: Scottsdale Republic Opinions Editor Robert Leger toasts his father,
Dick, and his mother, Mary Lu, at the couple's 50th wedding anniversary party
Edition: Final Chaser
Section: Scottsdale Republic North