A Heart of Steel

May 2, 2011
My dad is my hero. He is an unbelievably strong man and amazing father to my sister and me. He recently retired from working for the New York State Police Department and is loving every minute of it, but four years ago we didn’t even know if he would survive what was about to happen. I was in sixth grade, and eleven years old. I could sort of tell that something was up, all the unexplained doctors appointments and phone calls. Of course though, I thought nothing of it. I was just a little kid. One day my parents brought my sister, Mollie, and I up to the lake like always. I remember that day like it was yesterday. The leaves were just falling off of the trees, but it was still warm enough to play outside. We were playing with the dogs when my parents called my sister and me inside. My parents were sitting at the dining room table and they said that they needed to tell us something, but everything was okay. But it wasn’t really okay at all.

I was told that my dad had been diagnosed with an ascending aortic aneurysm. The aneurysm wasn’t letting a valve in his heart to do its job. My whole world stopped. I knew this was incredibly dangerous, and he needed major open heart surgery to fix it and, ultimately, save his life. My dad’s doctor said that he didn’t need the surgery right now; that he was too young for this to happen to him. He would be okay. But my dad knew that he wouldn’t be okay. He went to another doctor and found out that the aneurysm had grown to a very dangerous size and he needed surgery almost immediately. If my dad hadn’t persisted to have the surgery, he wouldn’t be alive right now. I was incredibly scared, I didn’t fully understand what was going on at the time. I just wanted my dad to stay alive, I prayed every night that everything would be okay.

The day of his surgery was the scariest day of my life. I went to school in an attempt to keep my mind off of it, but I was a nervous wreck the whole day. I didn’t know what was going to happen; if the surgery would be a success, or not. Not knowing what is going to happen is one of the worst feelings that someone can feel. To be unsure of the future is terrifying, especially when it is a life or death situation. I was called out of my eighth bell class and my aunt told me that the surgery went well. My dad was alive. I was overcome with happiness, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. But I had no idea what kind of condition my dad was actually in. I was so excited to get to see my dad, yet I had no idea what I was in for.

I walked in the room and my dad was just lying on the bed. He was hooked up to tons of machines, tubes and wires going in and out of him. To me, my dad was this huge, indestructible super hero. And there he was, clinging to life with machines, on oxygen, and had a terrible five-inch long incision right in the middle of his chest. He looked broken, defeated. This blew my mind to see my dad like that. He was always running or exercising, and now he couldn’t even sit up, yet alone walk. I felt like my whole life suddenly changed, because it did. I would have given anything for my dad not to be in the kind of pain that he endured day after day during his recovery.

A couple of weeks after the surgery I watched him struggle to walk to the doorway and back. But he never gave up. Everyday he worked harder and harder to get healthier, he would take a few more steps each day. It caused him incredible amounts of pain, but each day he was recovering. By almost two months we were walking around the block multiple times, and he could now sit up without help. Within a couple months it seemed my dad was back to his regular self, jogging, biking, and working out, but he was a new person. He had a new outlook on life, and so did my family and I. This entire experience taught me to never give up, no matter what the circumstances are, that you can overcome them. My dad is amazing, and has taught me an enormous amount about the value of the little things in life, and life itself. With the help of the people who love you, and the will to live, anything is possible. Thanks dad, for everything.

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