When I think back to when I was little, I always remember my dad trying to keep me and my sisters happy. When I was bored, he'd bring me into the backyard and play catch with me, or do some sort of activity along those lines. I remember when he took me to my first baseball game, and got me this cool mini baseball bat that I really wanted. Whenever I told jokes or tried to be funny, he always laughed, even though half the time it wasn't really funny at all. As I got older, my mother always said that I had the same sense of humor that my father did, so that made me feel pretty good, because I wanted to be just like him.
My father always used to make sure I understood what I was doing in school, especially in math since he was a math teacher a while ago. I still remember the time that my second-grade teacher got mad because my dad taught me multiplication. When all the kids were practicing addition and subtraction, I was practicing multiplication and trying to understand division.
Whenever I was nervous when I was younger, my father always tried to cheer me up. When I was scared about going to school on my first day of first grade, he gave me a nickel that he told me was his lucky nickel, and would cheer me up if I got sad. I still have that nickel, along with another lucky charm that my dad gave me. The other charm was a pendant that can be hung from a necklace. It was a small baseball glove with a baseball inside of it, and it's a little smaller than a mouse ball from the mouse of a computer. One morning at the end of a bad week, he was right there when I woke up. He said, "I have something for you," and he reached his hand on top of the armoire. He pulled something down and said that one of his relatives gave it to him when he was a little kid. Then he handed me the small pendant and said it would bring me good luck.
When I found out that my dad was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, which is really called A.L.S., I was really shocked. I felt that he no longer was going to be able to take care of me, and that I was going to have to take care of him. All I knew about his disease was that it caused the muscles in his body to stop working, muscle by muscle. We could start to tell that the disease was affecting him gradually month by month, the way the doctors said it would.
What I remember happening to him first was the loss of his ability to straighten his fingers . Then he started having trouble walking and lifting things, and then as things got worse, he ended up in a wheelchair, almost completely helpless. Even though he was handicapped, he never stopped working. He even got an award from the government for being handicapped, only capable of moving his neck and legs, and still doing just as much work as any other person who had been working for them. People at his work even put a sign up on the door to his office saying "Miraculous Mike."
Over time he kept getting worse; however, he still kept trying to keep the family happy. It seemed to me that he started getting better when he stopped smoking, but I guess I was wrong.
When I was at a Thanksgiving party for my mother's work, my mom got a call. She started crying and I just knew something was wrong with my dad. That night my mom's best friend Kate drove me and my sisters to the hospital where my dad was. I saw a bunch of people I knew there, and they said my dad was OK. But deep down inside me I knew they would be saying that even if he was on his deathbed, which I had a feeling he was. The next day was the last full day I had with my father, and he died the next night on November 16, 1996.
I knew this would cause a total change in my life from the moment I had the feeling it was going to happen. Now I realize how lucky I was to have him for the time that I did, and how I never should have taken him for granted. Now, I can't believe my ears when I hear someone say they hate their parents. I guess they won't realize how lucky they are to have them until they actually don't.