To all the ‘Fathers’ in Frankie’s life…
Dad: You were the first to hold him in your arms the moment he was born and again, on your lap, when the doctors told him he had type 1 diabetes. You are his foundation. You demonstrate persistence and possibility. He wants to ride 40 miles on a bike, you ride beside him. He needs help with homework after missing school due to diabetes, you sit with him and help him understand and get it done. He wants to try-basketball, scouts, LAX, hiking, cycling, and more-you support and encourage -you give him the chance by being right there with him. He questions: “Why me?” and you say “Why not you?” and show him he has what it takes to conquer all that comes before him. You work hard to pay for all he needs to live with this disease-overtime, part time jobs, odd jobs, all and everything—you put your children first-you make life possible. You sit at health fairs, walk in parades, and go to dinners, seminars, and fundraisers in the name of diabetes-for HIM. You sit on the edge of his bed at night to check his glucose level and watch him breathe. You are his calm in the storms that come. You are his shore when he feels lost at sea, just by being constantly there.
Grandpa: You are like no other-your bond so special. You don’t focus on his health when you are together-you focus on who your grandson is and share with him who you are. You talk sports, fishing, family and history. You tell him about your life and you listen to him talk about his. Without words he knows you would walk across hot coals for him, he knows you love him, because you show him. You are the ‘strong stock’ he comes from…he gets his determination from you.
Scout Dads: Though Frankie has turned to sports instead of scouts, you Scout Dads gave him building blocks that will last a lifetime. Always going above and beyond to include Frankie- sacrificing time with your own to keep him safe in your care. The building blocks of character, hard work, and how to try despite fear…you gave him those and helped create who Frankie is today-a strong young man.
His male teachers/coaches: You have seen beyond what he has to do to stay alive, seen him beyond diabetes and for the person he is becoming. You have made him an explorer of science, technology, music, athletics, the arts, and more. He knows the extra miles you go for him-learning about diabetes, learning how to inject glucagon, and he also knows you never mention it, never ask for thanks. He knows you do it all for him, and in turn, you are teaching him to do for others as well. This is no different than your female counterparts, except to a young man navigating so much in his young life. You are role models, an example of all he can become, because you are male too.
His Brother’s in Red, The Men of Tour de Cure: He sees you in action-on your bikes, with your families, testing your glucose, injecting insulin, and embracing life. Frankie knows all the ‘bad parts’ of living with diabetes, knows complications can happen, and knows friends who have lost their life due to this disease. You show him-live with all you have inside anyway, do what you need to do every day, and never say never. More than any other person in his life-you give him a demonstration of resilience. You are his Superheroes in red, his brothers on this journey, and the men who make him believe in himself because he sees you believe in yourselves.
On this Father’s Day, I salute and thank each and every one of you. Happy Father’s Day!