Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Willing GIft

I think I've posted an earlier version of this story, but here it is, revised and condensed. I think there are only 5-6 more stories that were deleted from the final draft. After I've posted them all, I hope to have a book update to share. Now on to this:

Dads are daughters’ teachers of the rewards of giving.

Amy enjoys many memories of the things her dad has done. When she was young he would lie on the floor and let her walk on his back, making it “crack.” Some days he bit the air trying to get a mouthful of “witch’s claws,” the Bugles she wore on her fingers and waved in his face. When she was a teen he spent hours trying to teach her how to pitch a softball. He cried at her wedding, and again, but more profusely, when his grandson was born.

But the memory she treasures most is something he did yet has attempted to hide. He doesn't talk about the fourteen inch bright red scar that starts just below his left nipple and crosses over his belly. It is a scar he has borne for nearly ten years.Her father, Dan, was the second born in a line up of seven boys. All the brothers played hockey, but her dad was the most talented and well known for his skill on the ice. So dedicated to the sport, during hockey season he and his brothers packed down the snow in their back yard and practiced skating on their makeshift rink.Even as an adult, the sport was still a large part of Dan’s life. Amy remembers many weekends getting bundled up against the Pittsburg cold to go outside and watch her dad play hockey. When in high school, Amy learned of her dad’s brother’s kidney disease, a condition he had dealt with for years but which had suddenly worsened. He was placed on a kidney transplant waiting list and began to take steroids to keep his body from shutting down. Even though the brothers were somewhat estranged, Dan volunteered to be tested to see if he were a donor candidate. They were a near perfect match.

His brother told him to carefully consider the possible consequences of becoming a donor, but Dan ignored the suggestion. His mind was made up, his brother needed his help. A few hours later, the surgery was scheduled.

The surgery was a success and Amy stayed home with her dad for a few days after he was released from the hospital. He recovered quickly and by summer’s end, when his daughter was preparing to leave home to attend college, he was back in tip-top shape.Living in the college dorm was Amy’s first time being so far removed from her family. To comfort herself when lonely she called home to hear about familiar household routines. One day in late fall, when avid hockey players were usually on the ice nearly everyday, it occurred to her that no one had mentioned her dad's hockey games.

Her mother quietly told her that her dad wasn't playing anymore. Now that he had only one kidney, he wasn't supposed to play contact sports. An injury could be life-threatening. Amy asked if he knew of that limitation before he agreed to the operation.

“It was the first thing the doctors told him,” her mom said.

Her father had not only willingly given away a part of his body; he also forfeited an important aspect of his life for the benefit of someone else. With his decision to donate a kidney, he showed all just how much one can do for family and someone you love. Inspired by her dad’s example, Amy has since become an organ donor, and now more than ever, understands the rewards of giving unselfishly, from the heart.

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