Guest Written by Shannon Davis
“I’m proud of you son.” Those are words that I always loved to hear when I was a kid. I was a fortunate child who had a loving mom and dad that seemed to know how to handle most situations that my two brothers and I faced. Granted, we didn’t always agree with the outcome of their decisions, particularly when it involved a sibling argument or scuffle. But the point is, they took care of us, protected us, supported us, disciplined us, had fun with us, but most of all…they loved us!
Some say you never know what true love is until you have your own children. As Principal at Pottsville Elementary School, I’m not sure that I totally agree with that. My job involves working with children on a daily basis, and I can’t help but to absolutely love our students. But I must admit the love you have for your own child changes a person more than I ever realized. Parenting is a real job, and it seems much harder to me than my parents ever made it appear. But it is that reciprocal love between a mother and son, or father and daughter that makes it the most special job in the whole world.
As proud parents of Brody and Gabbi, my wife Bridget and I are dedicated to being there for them. Whether it’s a mother’s kiss on a bruise, or a daddy’s push on the bicycle, we want our children to know they can count on us. We are dedicated to caring for, protecting, supporting, disciplining, having fun with…but most of all, loving our children. “I’m proud of you son,” or “I’m proud of my girl,” is something I try to tell my kids on a regular basis. Truth be told, what I really mean is, “I’m proud to be your dad.” My dad was, and is, an awesome dad. I can only hope that I will be half the father for my children that he has been to me.
While at school on December 3, 2013, I got the call that my dad had a motorcycle accident. After being transported to Saint Vincent’s Hospital, the doctor informed us that dad suffered from a TBI. Assuming there were no other complications, recovery would take between 6 and 18 months and that he might never make a full recovery.
Caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is an injury that disrupts how the brain works. A severe TBI not only affects the one who suffers from the brain injury, but it changes the lives of everyone who is close to that person in ways that nobody could imagine. Over 5 million people in the United States live with a TBI disability.
Honestly, we didn’t know if Dad would make it through the night or not. Dad needed us during this tragic time. Yet, through all the tears and prayers, I found myself selfishly needing him more than ever. I needed him as a father. Brody and Gabbi needed their “Papa D.” His wife, Sandy, needed him as her loving companion. We all needed him in one way or another. Late that evening, the faint words, “I love you son,” were spoken from dad to my brother Heath and me. This was the sparkle of hope I had been looking for. Heath and I knew that underneath dad’s swollen, beaten, and battered head that he was still in there! Prior to the accident dad was physically, emotionally, and spiritually a very strong person. It is my belief that a lesser man would have died that day.
Almost a year later, my dad is coping with the ongoing struggles to resume a life of normalcy after suffering from a TBI. Our family has learned the recovery time for a TBI is best measured by milestones on a yearly calendar rather than a weekly checklist. At times, the steps backward outnumber the steps forward, but he continues to press. There have been many unexpected setbacks and successes through the ongoing recovery process. Everyone’s lives have changed. My stepmother Sandy’s love for dad has been undeniable and I’m honored to have her as Brody and Gabbi’s “Granny.” Dad’s spiritual strength provides guidance and purpose. He is improving and we all look forward to many more wonderful years with Papa D.
Oh, and in case I haven’t told you lately, “I’m proud of you dad!”
Guest Written by Shannon Davis