You know the saying “common knowledge isn’t all that common?”

Well it’s true. All too often I find myself proving this truthfulness of this statement.

For example, yesterday was Father’s Day. Common knowledge to pretty much everyone on the world wide web, right?

Well, not me.

A full week before Father’s Day, I called my dad to wish him a Happy Father’s Day. Of course, the only problem was that it wasn’t Father’s Day yet… and I was a week ahead of schedule.

“Hey, Dad! Happy Father’s Day!”

“Thanks, Rob…. but it’s not Father’s Day, buddy.”

“Oh… well, is it your birthday?”

“Nope. That’s not until next weekend too, one day before Father’s Day.”

“Oh… haha. Mom told me it was Father’s Day today!”

Of course, I blame it on Mom.

I’m NOTORIOUSLY bad with birthdays. Ask any of my close friends or family, and they’ll verify this fact.

I don’t remember my parents’ birthdays, my best friends’ birthdays (sorry Cara!), and a few times I’ve even forgotten my own birthday.

It’s gotta be some form of mental impairment. Seriously.

Anyways, I didn’t have much of an excuse for Father’s Day. Since it’s all online and already pre-populated in my Google calendar on my phone.

But I was just coming out of a weekend of silent meditation where I turned my phone and unplugged from the rest of the world, including the world wide web, so I asked my mom when Father’s Day was and she didn’t come through in the clutch. (Sorry to throw you under the bus, Mom. This is the last time!)

Here’s the funny thing though: my dad is used to this type of behavior.

He doesn’t take any offense to it at all. He just laughs and waits to hear my call the following weekend to wish him Happy Birthday and Happy Father’s Day (on the RIGHT days this time!).

He’s just cool like that.

And he’s used to not getting all of the love and attention in my family. With a family full of ladies (mom, sister, two beautiful nieces, and plenty of aunts), he’s used to not being the center of attention. He’s always content to sit in the background, calmly and cooly absorbing the conversation of others.

And we’re lucky because in our family, he doesn’t get too many words in with all of the ladies together at a table anyway.

Or better yet, I’m lucky.

You see, there are few things in our life that we have absolutely no say in the matter when we’re born into this world. We just play the hand we’re dealt and make the most of it.

Some of these things include our health, our names, our religion/faith (or lack there of), and our familymost notably our parents.

I was blessed to born to two great parents. When so many other people are born to parents who abandon, beat, or reject them, I was fortunate to be born with parents that not only want and love me, but they’re also good people. Truly decent human beings.

I’m so privileged to have been born to THIS family. Through no choice of my own. I just won some sort of cosmic lottery. To be born to a family with parents who have good hearts and want the best for their children and grandchildren.

If you have awesome parents like I do, have you ever thought just how lucky you are..? Not in a cliche way, but in the practical sense.

Out of 6 billion plus people on the Earth, you were born to YOUR parents. You are the single seed that made it to the egg.

I mean, it’s really a blessing. But so many times, we take this blessing for granted. I know I have.

Even more frequently, too many times we never let the people we love the most know how we really feel about them until it’s too late.

This is my attempt to set the record straight.

WHY I’M PROUD OF YOU

My dad is a real proud dude. In fact, he probably wouldn’t be too happy with me sharing what I’m about to, but I derive so much gratitude from having him as my father, that I have to.

My dad is battling with scleroderma. It’s an autoimmune disease that attacks the healthy tissue, making it harder. The word “scleroderma” comes from two Greek words: “sclero” meaning hard, and “derma” meaning skin. Hardening of the skin is one of the most visible manifestations of the disease.

The symptoms of scleroderma vary greatly for each person, and the effects of scleroderma can range from very mild to life threatening.

He has the worst kind. He has the kind that’s widespread and attacks more than just his skin; it attacks his internal organs. This type of is called “systemic scleroderma.” Recently, he’s began rounds of chemotherapy to combat the degeneration of his body.

This kind of widespread (or systemic) scleroderma can lead to:

  • Cancer
  • Heart failure
  • Scarring of the lungs called pulmonary fibrosis
  • High blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension)
  • Kidney failure

Scientists still are trying to figure out what the exact cause for it is. Although data supports that there is a genetic and environmental component to the condition, there are no definitive answers.

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for scleroderma. Patients with scleroderma are left with treatments that only manage the symptoms or, at best, delay the progress of the disease. His subset of the systemic scleroderma disease (“diffuse cutaneous scleroderma”) has a 10 year survival rate of 55%.

Throughout this process, I’ve witnessed him exhibit more patience and gratitude than I’ve ever seen from him during his lifetime as my father.

Instead of complaining and becoming depressed, he’s grown deeper in his faith and expressed gratitude for having his wife of 28 years by his side to support him. He’s discussed the importance of the role of faith in his life and he’s finding his purpose in life through his faith.

I know that in life we are presented with unexpected and unfair events which make us question our beliefs and challenge us to act. It’s our responses to these events that determines how our legacies and the quality of our lives. And I’m proud of him for accepting this event and using it to become a better man.

Dad, I’m proud of you.

It hasn’t always been fun. We’ve had several roller coasters. Just like every family. There were times where we wouldn’t speak for weeks or months. Literally.

But I learned one day that your biggest fear on the day of my birth was that you may lose me one day.

Dad… you will NEVER lose me. Ever.

I never talk about my role models. I think ever since Michael Jordan first retired from the NBA, I stopped referring to my role models. I may have even mentioned when I was younger that I don’t have any real role models, but that I admire the qualities of various individuals.

But you have ALWAYS been the man with the most influence in my life.

Your heart. Your love for family. Your selflessness, always putting your family first. You’ve always left the door open to family members and friends to come live with us when they were down. You’ve always opened your wallet to people in need. Even when we didn’t have it to spare. You’ve been the best example of what it means to be “a man” that I could’ve ever asked for. You’ve always been in my corner—even when I may have thought otherwise.

You’re the only person that’s commented or ‘liked’ every time I’ve posted a link to my blog on Facebook 🙂

I’m so blessed to have you as my father. So blessed that God allowed me to grow up under your household.

I will never be able to repay the debt I owe to you for having raised me, but I will always value your presence in my life. And I promise that my future son(s) or daughter(s) will know all about the man you are, and the impact that you’ve had on others.

And now, so will others.

Happy Father’s Day!

YOUR TURN

June happens to be National Scleroderma Awareness Month where people across the world raise awareness of this complex disease. Although my dad may not want to be the center of attention, I know he’d LOVE to get the word out about Scleroderma to help others.

Would you SHARE this article?

You can do so by clicking any of the social media share buttons on the left side of this post, or by clicking the tweet and Facebook share buttons below.

I know my dad and other families affected by Scleroderma would greatly appreciate it!

Thank you for your support!


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Robert James Collier is the founder at Practical Idealist where he shares practical ideas to achieve worthy ideals.