Three Years Ago Today…

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My Dad - My Hero
My Dad - My Hero

This day, October 26th, is always a very hard one.  And the week to follow isn’t one that gets much easier.  It was today, three years ago, when I received the phone call that changed my life forever.  It was the call that a child never expects, nor wants, to answer.  I remember, as if it were yesterday, a typical morning in my office shuffling through paperwork, conference calls and meetings, when my brother Lance, called frantically to tell me that something very bad had happened to Dad and I needed to get home right away.  At that time, no one was sure what exactly had happened, all we knew was that Dad was on life-support and being life-flighted to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, FL.  Living in AZ, getting home right away meant several hours.  Not going home for clothes, luggage or even a toothbrush, I raced to the airport to get on the first flight I could, putting me in Tampa at nearly midnight that evening.  The flight had a short layover in Houston, giving me the chance to call Lance and find out the latest.  The information was no better, matter of fact, much worse.  Dad had experienced a ruptured brain aneurysm, was unresponsive and in a coma.  Getting to Tampa seemed to take eternity and nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience.  When I walked into Dad’s ICU room, there I saw my beloved Father, lying helpless with tubes throughout his body and a machine breathing for him.  For the next 12 hours, I knelt next to his bed, holding his hand, praying for a miracle.  That miracle didn’t come, but instead my family was now faced with a decision I wouldn’t wish on anyone.  Dad’s life had been taken unexpectedly and in an instant our lives had changed forever.  My Father, My Best Friend and My Hero was gone.   What many don’t know is that on that day, Dad became a hero to  other people too, three who had spent the last 10 years praying for their miracle, for the call that would finally remove their name from a list of thousands awaiting a transplant.  And the fourth; a blind man who had lived his entire life in the darkness was being given to gift of sight.  So today, saddened yet proud, I am so honored to have the privilege to call Joe Niekro My Father, My Best Friend and My Hero!    

The Broken Chain

We little knew that day,

God was going to call Your name.

In life we love you dearly,

In death, we do the same.

It broke our hearts to lose you,

You did not go alone.

For part of us went with you,

The day God called you home.

You left us beautiful memories,

Your love is still our guide.

And though we cannot see you,

You are always at our side.

Our family chain is broken,

And nothing seems the same.

But as God calls us one by one,

The chain will link again.

I love you Dad!

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