January 25 was my fathers birthday. This year I believe he would have been 68 years old.
Dad's life was changed dramatically by someone who was thoughtful enough to have signed their organ donor card, and then they had a relative who, in the midst of great personal pain and loss, was able to carry out the wishes of their loved one. Dad was the recipient of an organ transplant.
Not only was dad's life changed, but ours was too. So I got to thinking how I can honour dad's memory, and this is one way.
I pulled out something I had written the evening he died and sent it in as a letter to the local paper and the Star Phoenix paper in Saskatoon where dad lived. They both ran the letter and hopefully it caused a few people to think through the idea of organ donation.
Think about filling out your donor card and tell a loved one of your desire.
My father passed away peacefully this morning. He was 64 years old. This should normally cause us to be filled with grief, however for us it"s bittersweet.
You see, Dad was suppose to die eight years ago. He had a genetic liver disorder that caused his liver and eventually his lungs to fail. But eight years ago when his health began to fail rapidly, all the health options quickly became exhausted, there was no hope, except one.
That one hope lay in a liver transplant. Someone, somewhere would need to release the organs of someone they loved who had just died, probably in difficult circumstances.
Thankfully, for us and our father, someone somewhere was willing to do just that. And that has made all the difference.
Eight years more of life. What an amazing gift.
He saw his son meet the love of his life and marry her. He got to see his daughter get the job she had long waited for, and to see her do well in it, being promoted to positions of management. He saw his other daughter find fulfilling work and become established in her church community.
He shared wisdom with me as our children grew. He saw his youngest grandson grow up, and his eldest grandson move past the difficult stage of grade school and hit his stride in High School. He saw his granddaughters graduate from school with honors, and move off to University and College, something he was unable to do.
He was able to walk with his own parents through their own difficult seasons, into death. And to care for the details after they had gone.
He had extra time to love my mom, and to communicate his love and appreciation for her, as more and more he needed her to care for him.
This gift of extra time was never lost on him. He was always deeply aware of what it meant for him. In fact, when he passed away he donated the only thing his body was healthy enough to offer, his corneas.
Think for a moment of someone you loved who has passed away. What would you do with eight extra years with them? This is the kind of gift we received. Now it"s the kind of gift we offer when we make our organs available for another. It is the gift of extra time.
Please sign your organ donor card, and communicate your wishes to your family. It is a gift of time that you offer to another. And that extra time can make all the difference in the world.