Today is my dad's birthday. This is a hard day for me and my family because sometimes it feels like we are celebrating someone who isn't here anymore... except that he is.
My dad has Parkinson's disease. Most people know this as the Michael J. Fox disease, and while he's been a great advocate, spokesman, and fundraiser for this cause, sometimes it's a bit misleading. When Alex P. Keaton goes on Oprah, what the ordinary person sees is a man who struggles to stay still or a man who has a few more physical obstacles in his path. What the ordinary eye does not see is that this is a man who most likely has taken several doses of medication and a shitload of prayer just to get through a 60 minute taping. The ordinary eye does not see behind the curtain to the people, his family, holding him up while trying to just stay upright themselves.
Parkinson's is a shitty disease that scares the bejeezus out of me. It has robbed my dad of his independence as well as his mobility. It has taken his easygoing, sweet laugh and his natural social graces. And due to some poor medication choices, it even stole his sanity for some time. It has left my dad as a shadow of his former self, and it makes me sad and angry and frustrated all at once because it took away my hero and left me with a mortal man.
And, for a while, it left me without my family.
For the past few years, I have depended on my friends to fill that void. Note: I have wonderful friends. Amazing. Mind-blowingly incredible friends. Friends who saved my life on more than one occasion. Literally. They will always be like family to me, but, in the end, there are only a few people in this world that have known you, loved you, cared for you since the very moment you arrived on this earth. Hopefully, they will be with you, and you with them, until the very last moments as well. That's a pretty special relationship.
But a crisis has a way of dividing, and pretty soon the guilt and blame and frustration carves away at people like water on a rock. This is how the Grand Canyon was formed, with constant and continual wear over a long period of time. Then you find yourselves on opposite sides, separate and alone, wondering how you can ever get back to one another. This is where I have been with my family for a while now.
In the end, it's no one's fault and everyone's fault, including my own. But in the past few weeks, the chasm has started to close; we have begun, with lots of help, to slowly but surely build a few bridges and look for new routes back to one another. So today I spent the entire day with family I love very dearly and have seen far too little of. And it felt good. And I felt proud. And I didn't feel so alone. And I don't think they did either.
So today, even though I had doubts, was a very good day to be a Nazworth. And although he will never know or understand it, this is the gift our dad gave us on his 67th birthday.
Happy Birthday, Daddy Dean. I love you.