There is a section on our family blog titled “Daddy’s Diary.” When my wife Elaine started documenting our journey with transplant after our newborn daughter Addison underwent a heart transplant, I thought I would be interested in writing as well. I think so far in six years I have written one post. I used to tell myself it was because she was doing such a great job, and no one really cares to read the musings of Dad. What was I really adding to the conversation?
Truth: I have spent the last six years trying to avoid the reality of the situation…to NOT think about what living with organ transplantation means. But here I am.
Voluntold Volunteering to write a Father’s Day post for the Transplant Research Foundation of BC – Elaine is on the Board of Directors. Don’t get me wrong, I think about Addison’s medical condition all the time. I wake up in the middle of the night and tiptoe by her door to listen for the sound of her breathing (don’t tell Elaine). I watch her run around on the playground at school and wonder what denervation of her heart feels like when she exercises. I worry constantly about the medication she takes and what it is doing to her body. If she sleeps in for more than half an hour, my first thought is something must be wrong and I begin to stare at the clock wondering when I can legitimately bust in and make sure things are OK. My angst has gotten a little better over the last few years but it hasn’t gone away completely. I wonder if it ever will. Maybe you can understand if I’ve been a bit hesitant to pour that out.
BTW, there never is anything wrong. Addison always shuffles into the kitchen at some point. Maybe she will grunt a good morning at me before demanding I make her breakfast, and maybe not. How can you get more OK than that? Nothing quite like a surly six-year-old to put your place in the family in perspective. Addison is by any measure a normal kid. She runs, jumps, and plays with her friends. She is a good student. After a good deal of wailing, she loves to practice the piano. I will grumble about my role as short order cook, but whipping up a round of pancakes and bacon (don’t tell our cardiologist) is often the highlight of my week. It is always the small things that make families tick. Ours is no different.
Father’s Day is one of those days filled with the small things. As a holiday we all know where it stacks up against Mother’s Day. Instead of brunch, it is usually dad BBQing steaks on the grill he may or may not have received last year for Father’s Day. There are no elaborate gifts. A tie or a pair of socks will do, and If you are really lucky a hand-made macaroni and glitter craft will find its way into your hands. This is how I want to mark Father’s Day this year…and every year after that. I don’t want to dwell on what’s happened. I don’t want to worry about what might happen. What I want to remember are the small things.
– Aaron McArthur (father to Addison, heart transplant recipient, and Charlie)
(Aaron is celebrating Father’s Day this year by making breakfast for his two girls in Spain, where the family is on vacation to attend the World Transplant Games June 25-July 2.)