The face of courage

Tornado. The thought can strike fear into the bravest of soul if you live in Tornado Alley. I can remember about three tornados in my life spent in Iowa. My first stands out in my mind the most, because fear does not describe it. I was only three years old at the time. My family lived in an old mansion that had a carriage house, but not a root cellar or basement. So, to go to a safe place, we had to go across the street to Jimmy’s house. I can vividly see the fall leaves scurrying across the pavement. I can only imagine the fear and anxiety that was coursing through my dad’s veins as he tried to get his in-laws, wife, son, and two daughters across the street and to safety. However, his little three-year-old daughter had complete confidence in her daddy, who carried her across the street.

That was my dad. Strong, tall, and brave. I never saw him cry until several years ago. Life has not been nice to my parents, but they have never complained. Dad has a faith that can move mountains. He persevers through all of the ups and downs thrown his way. When I was eighteen, he had a ruptured disc in his neck. The ER nurses were impressed at his pain threshold. He came to my graduation in a wheelchair, but he was there. Six months later, I met him in the ER again. He and Mom had come to pick me up at the airport from college, but a car behind them had not been able to stop in the bottleneck. Dad’s words to me were ‘we need to stop meeting like this’. As the years have progressed, he’s dealt with constant pain from fibromialgia and various neck and back issues. Yet through it all, he endures.

Some say that courage is dong extraordinary events, but I say that my dad has courage because he faces every day with a smile on his face and gratitude in his heart. It may be difficult to get out of bed or he can’t sleep at night, but he lives life moment by moment. He encourages others through their hard times. He has mellowed over the years to a compassionate man. His pride has been broken. He will say if he hurts now. In the past I knew it was a bad pain day because in answer to how are you feeling, he’d say ‘with my fingers’. Because of dad, I have great respect for those who struggle with constant pain. He is my role model. If I can be half the person my dad is, I will be happy. 

The picture is of my father-in-law, son, dad, and husband when my son graduated from high school three years ago.

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