Gary G. is my hero. There are not enough words to describe him. My father always sticks with me, never giving up.
My mother, Victoria, and he had three children, Josh, Kyle, and me. In 1989, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, which devastated our family. They worried about their three young children and what would happen to my mom. At the time Josh was in kindergarten, Kyle was four, and I was a year old. My mom and dad tried to live as normal a life as possible. It was hard for Josh to understand what was happening, but he knew his mommy was sick.
Mom needed surgery on her right lung. The doctors said it would take about four hours so my dad stayed in the waiting area with relatives. After four hours the surgery was not complete and Dad tried to remain occupied, but all he could think about was why it was taking so long. After another two hours, my dad could barely take it. Finally, the doctors appeared and said that my mom’s right lung had to be completely removed because the cancer had spread so quickly, but they’d gotten all the cancer. Everyone was relieved, and my mom came home.
Everything returned to normal until my mom went in for a check-up and they found cancer in her left lung. The doctors couldn’t operate so Mom had chemo.
Our lives were turned upside down. She needed an oxygen tank and while my dad went to work, she stayed home in bed. He had to look after her and three kids. He worked so hard it was unbelievable.
When Mom lost her hair, she got a wig. I have a picture of me wearing it, with her smiling in the background. She would always ask how school was, help us with our homework, and play games with us. Those last months together were really hard because there was nothing we could do. It was the worst for my father because he didn’t want to lose his wife and the mother of his children.
On October 9, 1990, she died, just ten days before Josh’s seventh birthday and 26 days after my second birthday. She loved us so much, but she knew we were left in good hands. My dad raised us on his own. I have no idea how he did it, to be honest, but I am thankful. He was there for my mom every waking minute and now he has dedicated his life to us. Even though I don’t remember my mother, I still love her very much. I am so lucky I have one parent. He has made me who I am today. Josh, Kyle, and I all turned out to be great people because of my dad.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.