“A Toast” from Dad
I recently posted about how I have reached 10 years of disability and the many reasons why this was an occasion to celebrate.
I struggled with physical and emotional pain for some time before realising that life was still for living and more importantly, that I was in control of how satisfying that life would be. Over the years I have taken massive steps towards happiness and peace of mind with the help of my incredible friends and family. In that last post I told how I wanted to thank those special people for their years of support by taking them out for a celebratory meal (and one or two drinks!) so a large group of us went out for what was a great night and a chance for me to sit and take stock of how lucky I am.
Anyway, my good old dad had asked if I would mind him giving a quick toast before the meal so we could raise a glass (well, those with functioning arms!) to the last 10 years. Of course I said yes, a little relieved that I could relax and avoid doing it myself. I was caught off guard when I saw him stand up with sheets of paper containing a full-blown speech. Not that I have any problem being the centre of attention (no wisecracks) but I was only expecting a few words. By then it was too late to do anything about it, whatever was coming was coming.
I should have known better than to worry. My dad has always been a gifted public speaker and on this special night he found the right balance of emotion, humour and love while managing to take the piss at the same time. There was laughter and tears all round the table.
So I was thinking it would be a nice idea to post his speech, word for word, so I can always look back and remember the few minutes that managed to sum up the 10 years that had gone before. So here you go,
First of all I want to thank everyone for coming tonight and for sharing in this 10 year milestone.
Many people would be surprised at someone wanting to have a celebration to mark 10 years since breaking their neck – in fact some might say it’s not normal and I am sure as you have got to know Steven over these past 10 years you will have realised what Lynda, Fiona and I have known all along. He is not normal.
In fact he is quite extra ordinary and it has taken an extra ordinary resilience and determination to cope with this life changing result of his accident.
While much of that past 10 years has been a bit of a blur there have been some moments which I will always remember. Lynda and I will never forget a phone call one Sunday morning in May to tell us Steven had been in an accident and then the flurry of activity as Andy is arranging flights and within hours Fiona is picking us up and all 3 of us head off to Palma.
Although some of the events over the next couple of days are a bit hazy there are 2 things Steven said to me which I will never forget. The first was “it could be worse” which had me thinking “I am not sure just how much worse this could be” and “it must be the drugs talking” but even in those darkest of days it was a sign of the optimism and positivity which Steven has and would need in abundance to cope with this life changing event.
The second comment which I found remarkable was “ dad no matter what happens I will still do something useful with my life” and while the first comment may have made me think he was talking through the drugs, this time there was a determination in his voice which left me in no doubt that he meant every word of that statement.
One of the important lessons you learn in life is that once you know what the problem is you can start to deal with it and Stevens consultant at the Southern General has always given us complete honesty. I remember him telling us “your old life has gone your new life hasn’t started yet and it will take about 7 years before you reach stability”. During that period Steven has had and continues to have to deal with pain and other issues which no one should have to go through. You all know Steven well enough to know what these issues are so I am not going to go into them tonight but words like brave, determined, courageous and focussed would all be in the story of how he has dealt with this trauma and of course there is also the generosity he has shown to his family and friends.
Don’t get me wrong, he can still be a real pain and stubborn with it but again that character has been needed many times over the past years.
There’s been times of sadness and disappointment. – not getting to Ross and Lynsey’s wedding was one of many tough days.
Times of Worry and I remember Steven being worried about how Matthew and Joshua would react to seeing him for the first time after his accident. An indication of how important his nephews are to him.
Times of Humour as poor Craig found out when as an avid rangers fan, paralysed from the neck down he woke up to find that Steven had got the nurses to cover him with his Celtic blanket and scarves. Or how he responded to someone suggesting that he should enter the para Olympics.
Did I mention stubborn – being determined to spend that first Christmas at home, before the extension was built and when he should never have been out of hospital. No carers but only his mum and me to look after him – and of course I was about as much use as a chocolate teapot which meant Lynda doing most of the caring.
Talking of his mum who will ever forget the magic biscuits which she was talked into baking!!
So Steven we have reached a 10 year milestone and during that time you have touched the lives of everyone around this table and we are all better for having you in our lives.
I would ask everyone to raise a glass with me to toast Steven and wish him all the best for the next 10 years.
Thank you dad. Love you for everything you have always been, everything you are and everything you will mean to me in the future.