My father was a bachelor until he met my mother, who was much younger than him, at quite a late age. They married and I was born a year later. Because he was 55 years old when I was born and had grey hair, he was often mistaken for my grandfather when I was growing up. But to me, he was just my “silver-haired dad” who would sneak me cookies from the kitchen and tell me stories about his “younger days.”
When I was a teenager, I experienced first-hand the challenges of our huge age gap. It was painful to watch the father I loved so much become frail. After my 20th birthday, dad suffered a severe stroke that paralyzed his left side. My mother and I became his primary caregivers.
Those were difficult days. Dad became frustrated because he couldn’t write, walk or even sit up by himself. I used to help prop him up as my mother fed him. But I remember there were good days too. I proudly recall my father’s hard work in rehab and his determination to walk and be independent again. I was doubtful, but he proved me wrong when he walked short distances and wrote his name with his left hand.
Looking back, I am grateful for all the years I had with my father. Even when he was sick, his fierce determination taught me to never give up. And it gave me a solid appreciation for what it means to be a family caregiver.