Diabetes Dad

Reflections on Father's Day

Dads cant solve all the problems for their children with diabetes, but they can try.

TomKaitlin1By Tom Karlya

August 2005 — Father's Day. In as much as I celebrate that day enjoying the doting of my kids, it is also a time to reflect. We are Daddies. You just have to love that title. Freely given and yet fraught with more responsibility than any other title we could ever be bestowed. When our kids are young, we are larger than life, with arms as long as the ocean wide when a hug is needed and with the strength of an oak tree when they need a shoulder to lean on. In our children's eyes, we can solve any problem, repair anything that breaks. Faucets, trains, washing machines, hoses, sheds, swings – the list goes on and on. "Where didja learn that Dad?" the kids asked in amazement. "Daddy school," I'd answer with a wink.

But the day my child was diagnosed with diabetes was the day I learned the hardest lesson in life. I reflect on that lesson often – especially on this day. There are some things that Daddy, plain and simply put, cannot "fix."

My background is in the theatre. When my daughter was a baby I would hold her in my arms and sing that wonderful song from the Broadway hit Sweeney Todd entitled, "Not While I'm Around." To this day I ache when I remember holding her for the first time when she got home from the hospital after being diagnosed with diabetes at the age of two in 1992.

"Sing Daddy…Our song."

"Sure honey." I began, looking into her big round blue eyes. "Nothing's gonna harm you, not while I'm around……"

I stopped and could only look at her. The tears filled up my eyes and overflowed on to my cheeks and rolled uncontrollably to the floor. I had failed to keep the one promise that I had sung to her since the day she was born. I could not stop her from being harmed. I hugged her so hard that day and told her how sorry I was.

Father's Day is different for those of us who have children with a chronic disease or disorder. Daddy school never taught us the heartaches we learned to live with the day our children were diagnosed. No one had ever prepared us. There was no way to slap on a nut and a bolt and just tighten it to make diabetes all better.

Eventually we all went back to our lives and did what we could do to make things as normal as possible. Oh yes, we learned to laugh again. We learned to play. All of us Dads are different. All of us work different jobs and live in different neighborhoods, but on Father's Day, for those of us with a child with diabetes, every single father alive will have the same thought; that thought will change to hope and a promise we all gave our children – that with every bit of strength we have, we‘ll continue until ‘this diabetes' becomes something daddy will fix. A dream? Perhaps. But it's Father's Day…….I'm entitled.

---Tom Karlya

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dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.


Last Modified Date: June 13, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
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