May 27, 2010

My family - my dad

I have realised I have not spoken about my family yet and felt a sense of guilt so today I want to put that straight starting with my dad.

I come from an air force family. My dad was a pilot in the Italian air force and we were followed him wherever his work took him. We moved pretty often and we lost count of how many different houses we lived in and how many different schools we attended. We made friends just to lose them a couple of years later. We were always the new kids in school. The good thing about being air force kids is that you got to live amongst other kids who all went through the same thing. They understood us and never made us feel "strange" about our gypsy lives. We also had our own private facilities that "civilians" wouldn't have access to. We would have pools and tennis courts, parks to safely play in, officers mess to go eat at and food rations! It was a bit of a life outside ordinary life and the first time I lived somewhere that was not an air force base was when I went to Uni. I still feel a tingling feeling when I pass airbases or when I go visit one, that was our life.

My dad did really well for himself and went up the ranks pretty quickly. He hated desk jobs and loved flying. Whenever the air force stuck him in an office for a couple of years he would go into a depression. His love for flying and for being in that kind of active environment was what made him happy. He had two major crashes in his career but luckily he survived both. The biggest of the two happened when I was just 2 years old and he was lucky to make it safe to the ground minus a couple of bad bruises. He was an amazing leader to his men and people loved him wherever he went. When he came to family life.. he was a military man. He was not a big fan of being called daddy and he didn't believe in hugs and kisses. He was hardly home but when he was home we knew we had to be on our best behaviour. He wanted me and my brother to be competitive at sports and I always felt he thought we were a big disappointment in that sense. He just didn't understand us. He retired early from the air force when they told him he could not fly but still went on to become a consultant to the air force. So he was still going on simulators and teaching students.

This was my dad until two years ago. The dad I know now is a completely different person so in a way it is as if I have two dads. Two years ago he suffered a major stroke which he survived and he is lucky to be alive. After 6 months in hospital he was deemed fit enough to go home. He only stayed home 1 month and then he had to be readmitted because his heart went into atrial fibrillation again. Since then he has undergone heart surgery and with the help of medication his heart seems to be under control. The stroke has changed my dad in many ways. He had to learn how to eat and swallow solid foods, how to walk again and then run. He recovered very well but he still cannot use his arm/right hand but he attends physiotherapy sessions 3 times in order to keep active and hopefully recover more. This hasn't stopped him from getting a modified car and learning how to drive again! I told you he is a fighter

The stroke has also affected my dad's ability to speak. He has Broca's Aphasia. When he first came out of ICU we thought he could not understand us at all but as we researched and learned more about Aphasia, we discovered that Aphasia does not mean a loss of intellect. So as much as his ability to communicate has been impaired, his intellect is intact. He had to learn a new method of teaching his brain how to speak all over again because the impulses that we have as babies and that help us learn how to speak were gone. He attends a specialised center and has formed a great bond with Anna, his speech therapist. He is a fighter in every sense of the word and has gone such a long way from not being able to say yes or no to now being able to be make full sentences. He is still struggling on a daily basis for people to respect the fact that he is still the same person and for others not to treat him differently. He has many ups and downs but overall he is doing so great and I am so proud of what he has achieved and what he aims to achieve in the future. Last year on his 60th birthday he stood up and made a speech to all of us. Needless to say we were all in tears by the end of it. Such a proud moment!

The biggest change that I have noticed in my dad since the stroke is how much his behaviour has changed towards us. Whenever we see him he always tells us he is proud of us and that he loves us. He shows a lot of affection towards my mom in a way that he wouldn't before. He is a different dad and a different man and in a strange way he is a better dad now than he has ever been in the past. It is as if he has realised how he could have lost it all and as if the stroke made him realise what's really important in life.
I am so grateful to have another chance at building a relationship with my dad and I am thankful he is still alive to tell him how much I love him.


  1. Great post, thank you for sharing! I love to hear stories about people who stay strong and pull through tough situations.

  2. What a beautiful tribute to your dad. He sounds like an amazing man. We could all learn a lot from him - sounds like he truly appreciates life and the people around him, more than he did before. What an amazing lesson.

  3. Such a beautiful post. It is so odd how sometimes what appears to be such a terrible thing can actually bring such blessings. I'm so glad you both were given a second chance at a richer relationship.

  4. what an amazing man, an amazing dad you have. thanks for sharing him with us, you are lucky to have him. thanks too for stopping by, and God Willing we will both be mommies in October. xoxo