Blog #12- Daddy-O
Three years ago I stood in the card isle gulping back a lump in my throat. It was the first time I would not be picking out a Father’s Day card for my Dad. I still miss him dearly. He was an accomplished man, a Fulbright Scholar, chemist, sailor, and all around witty guy. I was guided by the best. I could always talk to him about Nick and he would quietly listen and nod. My son Nick has Down syndrome, and was later diagnosed with autism.
My Dad and Nick….
My Dad was known to the grandkids as Paw Paw, floor time fun with Nick and his cousin, Austin…
I have been blessed to not only have the guidance and love of my Dad, but also from my Father in law. Jim has always had my back and continues to be the rock as well as the voice of reason.
Grandpa Jim and Nick….
Jim is know by the grandkids as GPA…..
And then there is Nick’s Dad. Al helps me keep things on an even keel. He can lighten the mood with a joke when I take things to seriously.
Here is Al’s perspective of being Nick’s Dad:
“When Teresa asked me to be a “guest blogger” this week, the topic was very interesting … Being Nick’s Dad. Just to start off I’ll tell you there is never a dull moment around our house. With Nick, the house is fully energized. Yes he does chill but when he is on his game, you can never really relax. Nick in “high motor” is always searching for the next thing to do, whether it’s an appropriate behavior or not. There are things we do in our house because of Nick that most families I would gather don’t do … or for that matter would ever imagine doing. I think back to one morning I had my boss in town and I was just running a few minutes late trying to get out the door to go pick him up at his hotel. As I reached up on top of one of our cabinets to grab my car keys, they were intermingled with our cellphones, Teresa’s car keys and maybe a wallet. You see, those important things stay out of Nick’s reach since he will set off the car remotes or they end up in the toilet. Anyway, as I am trying to find my keys I grabbed whatever I could and a multitude of keys came crashing down off the cabinet nailing me right in the face. I looked at Teresa, smiled wryly and said “I’m sure everyone has to go through this to get their car keys.” We laughed and out the door I finally went. That’s just a part of the functional life with Nick, we do what he have to do to get by and keep it in perspective so we can at least try to have a relatively “normal life”.
As far as having Nick as a son, I have never experienced the range of emotions as with Nick. We are truly blessed to have this little dude in our lives, he totally keeps us grounded. We don’t take things too seriously or at least try not to. If I happen to have a challenging day at work, once I get home and see Nick dancing or “going hard” (as Hank likes to say) with his iPod and headphones, those troubles totally melt away as Nick’s world does not have those trials or concerns. Nick’s world is a simpler place and with his big ole’ smile and hugs, he makes my world a better place. It is especially rewarding watching Nick do his work bins or when he’s vacuuming for work (or enjoyment.) He has so much pride and wants to please so badly that when he accomplishes his task, you can see him beaming. Teresa and I would joke about what kind of bumper sticker Nick would earn from his school. You know the ones, “My kid is a brain surgeon at la de da elementary” blah, and blah, blah. We just know Nick’s bumper sticker would be well earned!
I remember right after Nick was born and were told he had Down syndrome, one of my first thoughts was picturing us in our retirement years with Nick living at home with us … and you know what, I am fine with that. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without Nick but I can assure you I would not trade a second. It keeps getting better each day and each year. We don’t know what the future will bring for Nick or us. But we’ll get there when we get there.”
Al with a very low tone (a trait of Down syndrome) baby Nick….
Al and Nick (age 5) oh no, not the fanny pack again…
Al and Nick at the Lincoln Library a few years ago…
A father’s love is special. I am fortunate to be surrounded by the best and so is Nick! That is what is in my noggin this week. Until next Monday may the joys, guidance and love of your Dad keep pushing you to do great things as mine has.
*”Daddy-O” is a slang phrase that is similar to dude. It was used by beatniks in the 1950s and early 1960s.
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