According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a date can be a noun or a verb. Many of us use the word as a verb -- “Disco, that word dates me.” I prefer using it as a noun -- “the day of the month or year as specified by a number.” That definition of date applies meaning, substance, and relevance to life-changing events in one's life. The most important date in my life, with positive meaning, is the birthday of my daughter (my life, my light), December 22 or 1222.
What other dates have profound meaning? My birthday. My brother's birthday. My niece's birthday. There are countless others, but the day I discovered -- or was told -- I had cystic fibrosis had a tremendous emotional impact on me. Besides ending a two-year medical trek to discover what was medically wrong with me, the date also represents the day my marriage ended. While the medical trek ended, an odyssey began on a different front. I had to fight in court to be a present parent in my daughter's life. The odyssey was fueled by ignorance and narcissism. However, that is a story for another blog post.
Needless to say, many years later and a win in court, my bond and relationship with my daughter are growing stronger by the day.
What is it like to be a single parent with CF, over 50, raising a 7-year-old? Every date means something when I am with her. We have daddy/daughter vacations, daddy/daughter photo shoots, and a plethora of daddy/daughter fun times. Since I started to take her to pre-K, we have taken photos every day we are together. She will have a true digital diary of every day she has been with her dad.
Every date matters in the life of a father with CF.
When we go on daddy/daughter trips, does CF affect what I can do with my daughter? Yes, yes it does. But like most individuals with a handicap, one adapts and relearns one's limitations. Will I be running marathons or entering strongman competitions? No. However, I might walk with my daughter and our dog, Ruby, by the lake; or ride my electric bike while my daughter rides hers with both of us wearing our two-way communication safety helmets.
Does my daughter know her daddy is sick? First, let me state that “sick” has several meanings. I do not view myself as sick. One is not sick -- just temporally not 100 percent. Let's be honest -- no one is 100 percent. Today, I feel like 100 percent. Why? Because no matter what I can or cannot do physically, my daughter loves her dad who has CF, unconditionally. She does not see CF; she sees her dad. Whether it be on the sidelines, in the carpool line, on her phone, or in a photo, the love of a child has no expiration date. There is no maturity date. Just one great date after another.
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