It is coming up to 10 years since my father left us, after a long, difficult battle.
Approximately 7 years before his death he suffered a massive brain haemorrhage leading to him becoming paralysed on one side of his body, he speech was affected as was his brain, he struggled to walk and often would get frustrated after taking a few steps. Before his haemorrhage my father was a teacher, a public speaker and well-known in our community and beyond. He was head of Jewish Studies at the school I went to and was much-loved by his students.
After suffering the haemorrhage he became almost “child like” in some ways, he would easily cry, his concentration levels plummeted and he would become angry and frustrated easily. Yet even after his stroke his belief in God never failed, I remember him saying that everything God does he does with kindess, my father may have lost the use of his arms and partly of his legs, but to my father as a teacher, communication was everything and he thanked God for lettig him keep his speech.
My Mother is a strong power house, she dedicated all those years solely to my father, there were times he would direct his frustration at her, which is natural as she was the closest one to him. She would be the one to pick up the pieces when his carer did not arrive in the morning to wash my father, or in the evening to ready him for bed, she could not just decide to go out, she carefully had to arranged her life around my fathers needs, which were immense.
Often Brain Haemorrhage is confused with a stroke but there are differences, A stroke happens when there is some disruption in the level of blood that goes to a person’s brain, causing the brain to be starved of oxygen and nutrients, as a result the cells in the brain die. Haemorrhage happens when an artery in the brain bursts causing internal bleeding as a result of this the brain cells cease to function.
Both though have similarities, they both happen very quickly with little warning, sharp headache will come on abruptly, a sensation of numbness or tingling on only one side of the body will happen during a stroke, whilst a haemorrhage will have feelings on numbness in one or both of the arms and legs, both will have feelings of weakness in the arms or legs, memory loss, vision loss, confusion, feeling dizzy and nauseous and more.
High blood pressure, smoking, family history and age are all factors that could lead to both haemorrhage and stroke.
I have heard that after we lose someone dear to us, the persons voice is the first thing that starts to fade from our memory, thankfully my father’s voice is still clear to me.
My family life changed after my father’s illness, some of my siblings living abroad returned to England. My Mothers home became a hub of carers, occupational therapists, and adapting of the bathrooms and bedroom to accommodate my fathers needs.
My father taught me, both in the physical sense and the emotional/spiritual sense, he taught me patience, he taught me how to care, he taught me love. When I look back to my childhood, the family holidays we had are the memories that I treasure, he was a strong tall man, whom during the year worked so hard, our holidays were his escape, the place he could completely unwind, I remember so clearly his joy at pulling us kids along in the rubber dingy in the sea, every single holiday pronouncing that next year he would be buying a “real” boat. Yet even during those holidays we would inevitably meet people who would be delighted to meet him.
In Judaism, after a family member passes away we sit “shiva”, this is a mourning period of 7 days where people come to the house to pay their condolences, share stories, laugh and cry, it is an amazing process which can bring a lot of healing, during the week of Shiva, we learnt so much about my father, pupils whom he had taught many years ago came and shared with us stories of how my father changed their lives for the better, he had a knack at figuring just how to relate to his students, whom he fondly called “ladies”.
My family all knew how dedicated he was as a teacher, but we, in that week saw him through the eyes of those he had helped, I have in my home a folder with over 100 letters we received from friends and past pupils full of antidotes about him.
He was a man able to connect to anyone, no matter who they were and what age. He was a leader in our synagogue, so much so that on one of the Jewish holidays, the whole synagogue danced around his wheelchair as he was pushed all the way home.
I know, that when I tell people who my father was, they will light up as they talk about him. He was more than a man, more then a father, more than a teacher.
After his Haemorrhage I tried to spend time reading to him, though the experience was heart breaking each time, knowing I was reading to the man who was a giant I gained so much from it, and I will never forget the time we spent together.
If you are still lucky enough to have a father, treasure, respect and love him.