His eyes were light blue, filled with confidence and intelligence. It was impossible to look at those eyes and lie to him because he could see right through you to the truth. He would often hold you with his gaze and speak to you in a way that made you feel like the only person in the room. My father was one of those people who even in life, seemed larger than life. He had a quiet confidence that was never confused with arrogance. Standing tall at six feet, he walked with his shoulders back and his chin up.
My father taught by example how to look the world with an open heart. He encouraged us to learn, to travel, to read and be faithful. He was without fear. He was without pretense or vanity. He would be the first to tell you he wasn’t perfect. Yet, he was committed to his family and my sister, brothers and mother knew we were the center of his life. He loved us well.
My father died years before my big lupus flare-ups began. In some ways, I’m thankful he didn’t have to witness my health problems. I’ve known many parents who had no choice but to watch their children struggle with critical illness and death. I can’t imagine their pain.
My father lived for 19 days after he had a stroke in the spring of 1998. He was awake and alert for several hours before the bleeding in his brain rendered him unconscious. There was no fear in his eyes when the ambulance came to the house. There was no fear in his eyes when my son and I arrived at the hospital. My father accepted what was happening with a grain of salt. His eyes could not lie. He looked at us with love, knowing his fate, yet reassuring us that he would be just fine. He smiled with us until he was too tired to stay awake. Through the eyes of my father, I learned how to die with grace.
When I see the world through the eyes of my father, I know I will be strong.
When I see the world through the eyes of my father, I embrace life without fear.
When I see the world through the eyes of my father, lupus cannot claim my heart or soul.