By Derek Blanchette
I haven't seen a flashcard since probably the second grade. Little cards with basic problems that are meant to help kids feel better about themselves when they solve simple questions. Flashcards are not something I thought I would run into again in my life, but there they were. Three boxes of flashcards with pictures of dogs, cats, balls, cars and what-not with the word underneath them and I was playing the role of teacher.
Now, when a 32-year-old man has a picture of a kite in his hand, usually he is teaching his son or daughter. Now, luckily for the rest of the world, no woman has agreed to procreate with me at this time, so it wasn't a smiling young face I was looking at.
Instead it was my father's. A man who has spent nearly half of his life eloquently putting into words the achievements of student-athletes was getting his K's and F's confused.
We went through about 25 of these cards and while some words were easy, some were more difficult. Watching my father try to understand that sun doesn't start with a P was both frustrating and great. Frustrating because I know his mind is working, but like a car stuck in neutral, it wasn't going to the places it needed to. Great because I knew how lucky I was to even have the opportunity to be doing this exercise with him just five weeks after his strokes.
It is amazing the amount of people who know someone who has had a stroke and the recovery stories are all different. You hear the
Most of the stories I have heard were of the positive nature, which is to be expected. No one wants to be the person telling the negative stories to the person whose father just suffered multiple strokes.
So, I have gone online and read some of the horrible stories of people who have dealt with family members who have become a shell of themselves. It is a terrible thing to read about and my heart goes out to those who have been on that end.
But my father is showing that he is a fighter. Small steps every day, whether it be his penmanship getting better or more words coming out more clear. He has even started answering the phone when I call and while the conversations are nowhere near what they used to be, the voice is familiar and sounds better every time.
While school is now out for the summer, my father's days as a student are just beginning. He has homework every day in an effort to get him back to his usual self.
It is amazing to watch a 62-year-old man go through the same things we learned in first, second and third grades. But what he would want you to know is that while the road might be long, he is working as hard as possible to get back to the job he loves.
It will be a long journey, but one I firmly believe he will complete. Well, as soon as he realizes that there is no silent B in the word frog.