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Spring 99 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

One Dad's Story

By Rick Tisch, Parent

Editor's note: This article appeared in the February, 1999 newsletter of Family to Family (F2F) Network of Houston. F2F's website is http://www.neosoft.com/~fam2fam/ .

It's a funny thing, being a dad. Before it ever happened to me, I knew what kind of dad I wanted to be. I could see myself in many different types of leadership roles with my child, roles that would require wisdom, good sense and, most of all, much love and caring on my part. And, when my wife became pregnant with our first child, I knew I was up for it. I knew I could do all those things, and more. I knew I could be one fantastic dad.

And then my son was born.

They say that nothing ever happens the way you expect it to. When you have a child with a disability, that little saying becomes the biggest understatement of a lifetime.

For years, I was either in a race against time to "fix" my child, or I was just plain numb. We did it all, every kind of therapy to try to lessen the gap that was there. We lost friends during this time, and many family members made themselves scarce emotionally. It was worse in public. People stared and pointed at my son because he looked different. Others went overboard with pity.

Then, somehow, my feelings of helplessness and despair began to change. I know that Ryan, my son, is the reason. He wanted to do things that other kids were doing. He wanted to be involved. My wife was in a panic when Ryan wanted to sign up for T-ball. How could he do it? Won't the other kids be mean to him? But, Ryan showed a strength and determination that I will always admire. The first time he hit the ball, his whole team stood up and cheered. Okay, so maybe he ran the wrong way around the bases, but who cares? He did it.

Now I have the goal, and I have the determination. I'm trying to model myself after Ryan. Or, maybe he gets a little bit of it from me. But, I want to make some changes. I want Ryan to continue to be fully included in school, and in life. I also want to work to make that chance available to other kids.

I know now that the dreams I had about being a father are coming true. They're a little different than I thought they'd be, but not so much. Because I have the chance to show all three of my children the way to become strong. And I can, each and every day, teach them how to be loving and caring human beings.

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