| WSI Editorial
A Day with Dad
Benny Simons relaxing while on 2010 Colorado Fishing Trip
It's 9:00 p.m. and I'm sitting on a plane in Dallas getting ready to catch a delayed flight back to San Angelo, feeling sorry for myself because of my jammed up schedule and behind on this ENews due to my tardiness in getting this editorial penned. As I sit belaboring a topic to scratch on paper, it dawns on me how apparent the subject material is, in my head and in my heart.
You see, I caught a flight early today to visit my Dad, just outside of Dallas. This visit, though, was different than the others. My brother picked me up at the airport, and after an early lunch, we met up with my sister, stepmother, and Dad. Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's about 18 months ago and his condition, especially his mobility, has regressed considerably during this time.
His form of Parkinson's affects his balance. Several months ago he was forced to relying on a cane. A few months ago he had to transition to a walker. Two weeks ago he had to give up driving. He falls down multiple times a day. His arms and hands reflect these problems through the scabs and bruises from his regular mishaps.
Today's task was a difficult one. As his children, it was now time for us to visit with him and my stepmother about his options on keeping him comfortable to ensure a quality life from here forward.
For those of you who have never been challenged with these circumstances, it is really an odd, unnatural position to have such a role reversal of paternal care. Truthfully, as our discussion progressed, the emotionally difficulty was not as much of a struggle as I anticipated. And, in retrospect, I guess that I'm not that surprised. Through most of our discussion, which was consumed by everyone's conversation except his, he sat there smiling. At the end of the discussion, my brother asked him, "Daddy, is there anything you would like to say," and my Dad, with a smile on his face, said "No, I'm just listening". Kind of reminded me of a comment I heard a guy say here recently when talking about effective communication, when he said, "the key to good communication is being a good listener".
Dad has always had a positive demeanor. His "never say never" and "never give up" attitude is something that he instilled in me early on. He has always led with enthusiasm and zest, whether it was serving as an industry advocate on behalf of firefighters, raising money for local events, or anything else, for that matter.
He's an amazing human being. During the funeral of my nephew a few years ago, whose life tragically ended prematurely due to a drug overdose, a comment during a portion of the eulogy sums up what a special person Benny Simons is. Isaiah Robertson, who owned the rehab facility that my nephew was enrolled, provided an eloquent commentary about his relationship with Jim Bob. Dad used to visit Jim Bob almost daily at the rehab, but while he was there, he also took the time to visit with many of the others who were struggling with their addiction. He brought them deer meat, presents, and mentored them. Mr. Robertson, an ex-professional football player, referred to my dad as Grandpa, as did many of the others in the facility, and I still remember Mr. Robertson's words during the eulogy when he looked into the crowd at Dad, and said "....and I must say a word about Jim Bob's grandfather. Grandpa, I have traveled the world. I have been blessed to meet some outstanding and very successful people, but I have never in all my life met a finer person than you!"
This disease may rob my Dad of his physical capabilities, but it cannot touch his character, and it will not debilitate all the fine virtues that make him such a quality human being, and such a wonderful Dad. And just like he taught us, no matter how often he may fall, you can count on him to always get back up, at least in mind and spirit.
Before signing off during our plane descent, let me share another quote, and one that I'll pay as a tribute to all the great fathers in the world, as spoken by the legendary Will Rogers, Jr. "His heritage to his children wasn't words or possessions, but an unspoken treasure, the treasure of his example as a man and a father".