I have always heard the expression family sticks together which to me always meant to be there for each other. I have to say today this expression means so much more than it used to. I grew up with a mother, a father and a sister who is six years older than me. Like any normal family we loved each other, hugged each other, shared and laughed with each other. There were also the times when we fought with each other, yelled at each other and refused to talk to each other. Like most children, we grew up, left home and began our lives. My sister got married and became a step mother for 2 beautiful little girls then had a handsome little boy. I went off to college, then university and met a great man of my own. While everyone was busy with their own lives we always stayed rather close, talked to each other often and had many family diners together.
In 2011, everything changed when my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness called ALS. We did not know much about this disease but we were quickly informed that that he would lose the ability to use his arms and his legs, to talk and then finally to breath. There was no way to know how long this disease would last. On average the life expectancy of an ALS patient is 2-5 years although some people have had it for over 20 years. We decided that as a family we needed to stick together, and that is what we did.
My parents own a house on several acres of land and my father had built a wood working shop on the property next to the house. The main house was not designed to be wheelchair accessible and so my parents decided to turn the wood shop into a wheel chair friendly home. My finance at the time took time off work and started working on turning the wood shop into a handicap friendly home. By the time the home was completed, which took about a year, my father had lost the use of both his arms and he began to lose the use of his legs. My sister and her family moved into the main house, while my fiancé and I moved into the new duplex with both my parents. Soon my father was completely confined to his wheel chair and had lost complete use of both his arms and his legs.
Although my father was confined to a wheelchair his grandson kept him very busy; especially in the summer. They would ride together with my father in his electric wheel chair and his grandson right beside him on his little tricycle. They would also watch tv together and eat snacks together as best friends do. I still remember my three year old nephew saying one for you and two for me as he would feed him chips. Being so young, my nephew never seen him as anything other than his pepere and not a person who is handicapped. I don’t think my nephew will every really understand the happiness that my father had to be able to spend so much time with him.
As a family we had decided that when the time came that we would keep my father at home and take care of him in his final days. This was something that was only possible due to great family support we had all around us. When the end of my father’s life came about, our family and friends gathered at the house to say goodbye. I remember my mother saying how proud she was to be able to keep him at home and how peaceful his passing was. My father was at home with the family and the sound that surrounded us was the laughter of the children playing outside. This is when everything changed and I realized true meaning of love and family.
It has now been almost two years now since the passing of my father. My sister still lives in the main house with her family. I am now married to a wonderful man who has helped me and my family immensely in our biggest time of need. We both still live in the duplex with my mother. For both the struggle in which we all shared and the love we have for each other we would not want to live any other way. Everything we do, we do together; sharing yard work, making meals together and just relaxing together is the greatest thing to help heal our broken hearts. This year we purchased chickens which we will be raising for eggs and my mother has planted a beautiful garden of vegetables. This is my home, this is my family and I wish everyone can see life as we see it today.