Ever since I can remember, my dad has had epilepsy. I’m not sure I can remember a time where I rode with him in the driver seat. Our American society revolves around the ability to drive a car. We seem to drive everywhere – to school, church, our place of work, vacation destinations, grocery stores -- practically everywhere. It’s one of the most prized ‘rites of passage’ that Americans experience. We all know how excited we felt once we were old enough to get our driver’s license and drive off with all the freedom that it gave us. Yet, for my dad, it’s a fundamental freedom that he’s had to live without for practically his entire adult life – and for anyone that knows him, you wouldn’t even know it.
In many ways, this is as much a tribute to my mom. When she took a vow before God to marry my dad through the good times and the bad, in sickness and in health, she had no real idea what lay ahead. From all that I could remember, she has carried that cross in ways that no one else ever could. When it was time for our family to go somewhere, she was the one that did it. When it was time to grocery shop, she went. When it was time for baseball practice, she ensured I got there. When it was time for church, every single Sunday, she was in the driver seat. When it was time for community group, she took us there. When I’ve stopped to think about it, her faithfulness to her husband and her family is largely unmatched. Plus, she didn’t “have” to do any of it. She could have stayed home. She could have skipped church. She could have said “no” to years of baseball practice. To be honest, she could have left her marriage like so many others have done. But she didn’t and for all those sacrifices, she made me and those in our family who we are today.
I would be foolish to stop with only honoring my father and mother for in as much as they have carried this burden of epilepsy for such a long time, in the spirit of Galatians 6:2, so many family, church friends, and neighbors have helped carry the burden for our family over the years as well. They drove my dad to the train station, to the bus lot, or even all the way to work itself. They drove me to and from baseball games when my parents couldn’t make it – and they did this year after year.
While the world is a broken place, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). I can see how the Lord has used epilepsy in my dad to bring many in our family closer to the Lord. It’s required my mom to grow in a level of grace and patience that many of us will never obtain this side of heaven. It’s required all of us, as sons, to love our dad in ways that aren’t conditioned on his ability to drive us somewhere. It’s taught us how to love someone for who they are, not simply for what they have done for us. In many ways, it’s simply given us an opportunity for us to love our dad the way that God loves you and me.
I’ve seen how the Lord has used it to grow me in sympathy and maturity. I remember situations growing up where my dad had a seizure and others “freaked out,” and there was a calmness about knowing what to expect during a seizure. It grew my empathy towards my mom to try to feel and understand the burden that she has carried over the years. It meant I had to take more responsibility for my brothers when I was home with my dad alone without knowing whether he would have a big or a small seizure while my mom was away.
Even during those scariest moments of "grand mal” seizures, where he was unconscious with violent muscle contractions, the Lord always faithfully cared for my dad and our family. He has had seizures that left him disoriented standing next to the metro platform and the Lord always brought him home to us at night. He has had rides lined up all his life – either through a neighbor, a family friend, or someone at church. We are also very thankful for public transportation that has bussed and trained him to and from work for decades.
Through it all, my dad has always remained so incredibly content. I’ve never seen him curse the Lord. He never gets angry at the amount of time he has lost by having to wait for buses and trains to arrive. In a world torn apart from lust and adultery, he has been a faithful husband to my mom. He didn’t pursue careers that caused him to travel and be away from the family or to work 80-hour workweeks where he would never be home. He always wanted to be at my ball games growing up.
There is beauty in loving each other through the pain and sickness that we experience here on this fallen earth until we await our new bodies on the new earth where “…death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
To help honor my father and mother, would you please consider joining me and our family at the 12th Annual National Walk for Epilepsy on Saturday, April 14th, 2018 on the National Mall in Washington, DC?
Our team name is “The Happy Campers” – in honor of my dad who is one of the “happiest campers” that we know! There will be a 5K and a “fun walk” – we’ll likely do the “fun walk”. Please see the link below to register. We would love to have you join us on the Mall but if you can’t make it, and would like to contribute towards our team goal of $1,500 -- you can contribute using the link to the right. We hope that you can make it! Feel free to contact me with comments or questions! 919-306-8660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are raising funds to make a difference in the lives of people living with epilepsy. The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.
Please support this cause by making a safe and secure donation to our fundraising webpage. Giving to the Epilepsy Foundation means you make the world a better, easier, more manageable place for the 3 million people in the U.S. who are living with epilepsy and seizures.
Thank you for your help and support!