26
Oct
09

Three Years Ago Today…

My Dad - My Hero

My Dad - My Hero

This day, October 26th, is always a very hard one.  And the week to follow isn’t one that gets much easier.  It was today, three years ago, when I received the phone call that changed my life forever.  It was the call that a child never expects, nor wants, to answer.  I remember, as if it were yesterday, a typical morning in my office shuffling through paperwork, conference calls and meetings, when my brother Lance, called frantically to tell me that something very bad had happened to Dad and I needed to get home right away.  At that time, no one was sure what exactly had happened, all we knew was that Dad was on life-support and being life-flighted to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, FL.  Living in AZ, getting home right away meant several hours.  Not going home for clothes, luggage or even a toothbrush, I raced to the airport to get on the first flight I could, putting me in Tampa at nearly midnight that evening.  The flight had a short layover in Houston, giving me the chance to call Lance and find out the latest.  The information was no better, matter of fact, much worse.  Dad had experienced a ruptured brain aneurysm, was unresponsive and in a coma.  Getting to Tampa seemed to take eternity and nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience.  When I walked into Dad’s ICU room, there I saw my beloved Father, lying helpless with tubes throughout his body and a machine breathing for him.  For the next 12 hours, I knelt next to his bed, holding his hand, praying for a miracle.  That miracle didn’t come, but instead my family was now faced with a decision I wouldn’t wish on anyone.  Dad’s life had been taken unexpectedly and in an instant our lives had changed forever.  My Father, My Best Friend and My Hero was gone.   What many don’t know is that on that day, Dad became a hero to  other people too, three who had spent the last 10 years praying for their miracle, for the call that would finally remove their name from a list of thousands awaiting a transplant.  And the fourth; a blind man who had lived his entire life in the darkness was being given to gift of sight.  So today, saddened yet proud, I am so honored to have the privilege to call Joe Niekro My Father, My Best Friend and My Hero!    

The Broken Chain

We little knew that day,

God was going to call Your name.

In life we love you dearly,

In death, we do the same.

It broke our hearts to lose you,

You did not go alone.

For part of us went with you,

The day God called you home.

You left us beautiful memories,

Your love is still our guide.

And though we cannot see you,

You are always at our side.

Our family chain is broken,

And nothing seems the same.

But as God calls us one by one,

The chain will link again.

I love you Dad!

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2 Responses to “Three Years Ago Today…”


  1. 1 Christy Gans-Pratt
    October 26, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Natalie,

    Through this very sad and life-changing event emerged such a wonderful foundation in honor of your father to aid in research that will help many others. Letting go of a loved one and giving the gift of life to others is a difficult one. We were faced with the same decision 11/23/04, and the only comfort that comes from such tragedy is knowing others lived longer because of this gift. My prayers to you and your family today!

  2. 2 Nancy Niekro
    October 27, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    To my Precious Punkin…I know the pain you are experiencing each day as you go through life without your Dad. I have such vivid and incredible memories of our life together, and losing him was something that I struggle with every day of my life.

    I will forever love him and be grateful to him, for he gave me the greatest gift of all…you, my precious daughter, and Lance, my precious son.

    Please know that I walk beside you every step of the way, and will carry you when the journey gets too tough for you to handle on your own.

    I love you MORE,
    Mom


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