Father’s Day – one year on

Updated … to my Son.

Every day is Fathers Day

I must be one of the luckiest Dads on Earth, I lost the use of my legs and in return found my son.

Like millions of other parents I had been through the whole scenario several times, trying to balance working to the best of my abilities to give my family a superior quality of life against never being there for birthday parties, school presentations, football matches, grazed knees and a hundred other events so important to a child. How do you explain to a five year old that if Daddy doesn’t go to work we can’t pay our bills, buy food or put gas in the car, what do five year olds care about income tax, insurance premiums and mortgage repayments when there’s sandcastles to be built and Lego robots to be assembled, all you can do is try and be there when you can.

However, I was certainly guilty of being work obsessed then stupidly wasting my limited leisure time in the pub, looking back, why I wanted to work all day with a group of blokes and then socialize with them afterwards, I’ll never know, but that’s what I did. When I was in the house, my children were kept out of my way ‘Daddy’s tired’ ‘Daddy’s been working hard’ ‘Daddy wants to watch the football’ Mum and the housemaids ensured when I was home … I was ‘home alone’ I could not even tell you what year my children were in at school, but the housemaids probably could.

I was running my own company and the main contractor we worked for had just went bust, I was grossly overweight, in very poor health, stressed and heading for a heart attack when my body said ‘enough’ I was feeling hyper, my blood pressure was well into the danger zone, my joints and lower back were a constant source of discomfort, I went to bed early one night not feeling too good and woke up in Intensive Care twelve days later with tubes sticking out of every orifice. The prognosis was not good, advanced Osteoporosis, Fibrosis, blood cell imbalance, liver damage just to list the main items. My system was in recess and the doctors had implied I might not come out of the coma I had been in, my family and friends had been gathered around expecting me to die, I didn’t. Both my knees were locked and my left ankle and foot were twisted down-over, the results of several seizures, even the tiniest movement was agony Seven months of treatment, five operations, numerous blood transfusions, therapy and medication then I was finally released from hospital, unable to sit, stand, or walk, but 50kgs lighter and feeling surprisingly healthy.

My company had folded, my health insurance had run out and financially things were not good but something ‘good’ did happen whilst I was in hospital. We were restricted from using electrical devices, mobile phones, laptops etc. so to while away the long hours of treatment my son and I played cards and board games. Good old fashioned snakes and ladders, checkers, monopoly etc. I bought a large pack of good quality colouring pencils and we drew out new games on A3 paper. My son started modifying the classics with Plants vs Zombies monopoly and Angry Birds draughts, we played cards, ‘Uno’ ‘Fish’ ‘Snap’ and ‘Rummy’, and when I got home from hospital we continued.

Now it was my turn to be waiting for my son to come home from ‘work’ or school in his case, I counted the minutes until he was home. Luckily for me he was more than happy to sit for hour after hour not just playing games but reading and writing as well. I had started writing out my travel memoirs in hospital and now my son wanted to copy what I was doing and write ‘stories’ as well. With no restrictions like reality and life to draw on, his imagination is totally unfettered, his vocabulary for an eight year old is amazing and his stories can cover five hundred years in an instant. His take on the Marie Celeste ghost ship includes scenes from the movie Titanic, oh and did you know that Robin Hood and his Merry Men escaped the Sheriff of Nottingham time and time again … on Jet-skis, Thomas Jefferson invented electricity to make his air-conditioner work … and there’s more… a lot more.

Twelve months on and his enthusiasm hasn’t abated in the slightest, we still sit for hours listening to the radio, playing games, drawing, reading and writing, he has thought up cartoon characters Krispy Skream … a Donut with huge shark like teeth that ‘goes around attacking fat kids’ …Red Hot Chilli Peppa that jumps into peoples food and makes it spicy ‘then they have to run to the toilet’. His skill and artistry with Lego bricks far surpasses mine and I am demoted to ‘brick sorter’ …. so much for my previous title ‘Offshore Construction Manager’

My nine year old son is my constant companion, inspiration, and best mate in the whole world. He is big for his age, fit and very strong, he has physically helped me get from being a bed-bound invalid into a wheelchair, onto crutches and finally walking alone, albeit very unsteadily … a true reversal of roles if ever there was one. I am embarking on a new life and a new career, built around my physical limitations, I have just self-published my first book based on travels and work in East Java, the first of a series. Financially times are hard but my son never complains, we get by and when I say ‘things will get better’ he believes me implicitly and unconditionally. He is like any other normal nine year old and certainly has his ‘moments’ especially where his teenage sister is concerned, but these are easily overlooked…by me, but not his sister!

I know it won’t last, the day will come when there are far more interesting things for him to do in that big wide world out there than helping his old man, until then I will savour every moment. I am so, so lucky, I have been given the gift of my son’s love and friendship.

Dads, don’t wait until you are ‘Knock knock knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ before discovering what really matters in this life … time for your children … and your children’s time.

Almost one year on since I wrote and posted this, my son is nearly ten now and nothing has changed, except he has outgrown every piece of clothing he has in an alarmingly short space of time. We still spend a lot of time together and we have graduated to watching ‘classic’ movies, Apocalypse Now, Monty Python, Terminator, Robin Hood, all of the Airplane type series, Mad Max etc. Although we seem to spend an awful lot of time pausing and rewinding whilst I am quizzed ‘How did they do that?’ ‘How many stunt men did they use?’ ‘Where did they build the set?’

My health continues to yo-yo from getting around ok, to my left leg collapsing completely so I guess a full recovery is not on, but hey I am still alive and loving the life I have remaining. Our current programme revolves around the World Cup timetable so the Lad has built a ‘Pillow Fort’ in the corner of my room and moved his ‘essentials’ in, his replica weapon collection, three trunks of LEGO, two Maglites, two phones, his Lenovo Tablet plus chargers, and of course his football jerseys and flags … we are rapidly running out of space and there have been hints dropped that some of my stuff has ‘to go’!

Like any growing child fast approaching ‘those years’ he often has different points of view to mine, we have our disagreements, but nothing that can’t be resolved over an iced Milo Shake and a chip’n ketchup sandwich.

I do not know how much longer things will stay like this, but I am just grateful for the good, nahhh … better than ‘good’, the awesome and unforgettable times we have shared, and are still having together.

… and to whichever Higher Power is overseeing things …I owe you big time …Thanks

Joe Writeson,

Aspiring Author, Soul Survivor, patient … and Proud Father.


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