December 17, 2011 will mark to the day three years ago that my life changed forever. With a simple slip and fall accident that took place at my office building of my aviation management company, my life was “deleted” leaving me with a permanent retrograde amnesia. After waking up in the hospital without any of the previous 46 years of my life’s memories it was time to restart building a new life.
So what have I learned in three years, the list is so long but yet so short I am often asked this question when we speak, the best answer I can give is that I do not know, what I do not know, therefore making it difficult to realize what is still missing in my bank of memories. First and foremost I have learned to love again, my wife of 27 years has taught me to be a loving, caring husband and spending countless hours teaching me kindness, the loving caress that seems to relieve my headaches, the endless hours of teaching me a life that seems to only be that of someone else. Joan has never given up the idea that my memories will come back. When I think of the daunting task Joan was faced with caring for me and wondering if I would fall in love with her again, seeing that three years ago we were meeting for the first time even though we had been married for nearly 25 years. I am not sure how love felt to me before the accident but now it seems to be a huge part of why I choose to move forward, without the love of my wife and daughter I am not sure that I would still be here.
This brings me to my second most valuable lesson and that is how to be a father. It was so difficult to sit and watch my then 16 year old daughter Taylor take on the role of being a parent to the father that has been raising her since birth. For 16 years Joan and I have done everything that we could do to ensure that our children had the best possible life we could provide. After the accident Taylor was still in high school and forced to realize that the father she once knew was a very different father these days. I had no idea how to act as a father, how to interact with a 16 year old and let alone to provide the life lessons that a father is supposed to share to his children. Taylor has been dealt a difficult hand, not only was she facing life with a father that no longer knew her but she was dealing with a severe drug addict for a brother. A brother that she could not count on to now provide the advice, guidance and support that her father no longer could. Taylor did not allow these difficult circumstances to sway her in any way to share with me how I used to father her before the accident. Sharing with me that I was strict but fair and I had always showed love in our house. So with Taylor teaching me how to be a father by showing me love and teaching how to be a father in the way that she did, it makes me feel good to think that “maybe I did do it right”. If anyone has read our book “My Life Deleted” you will know that I have had a very strained relationship with Grant.
This brings me to another lesson that I have learned and that is no matter how much I want something or wish that it would happen, it just may not. Grant has been struggling with a drug addiction since the age of 16, now 22 he has seemed to have cut off all ties with me because I see the world in “black and white” living life without emotional attachment to things prior to the accident has created a protective barrier for me. Seeing that I have only known Grant as a drug addict I have seen how he has manipulated both his mother and sister over the years. I have watched enough Dr. Drew, Intervention and Dr. Phil to know that allowing this manipulation only prolongs his addictive control over my family. I have learned to call him out every time he tries to manipulate us to his benefit. I have learned that it is my job as the husband and the father of Taylor to not allow this to continue. I have learned that I have to help myself become the new man that I want to become and that Grant has to learn to become the man that aims to be. To my loving wife Joan and my beautiful daughter I thank you for allowing me to share this second chance at a new life with you both.