Diabetes Dad

Memories of Dad

This diabetes dad remembers.

Tom picBy Tom Karlya

July 2011 — Diabetes Dad. I never wanted that title, it just happened and I accept it now with both honor and responsibility. I look forward to the day that it is no longer needed because a cure is found and I am able to go back to the simple title that means more to me than anything else on earth — dad.

Interesting thing about when diabetes enters the household. It becomes the all-consuming animal that takes anything and everything in the path of normalcy, like the tornados that have been in plentiful supply this year.

Dad. Remember that title? When everything done wasn't measured on how much or how little you've been involved with your child's diabetes and how successful, or not, you've been? The conflict that started when one person thought they were caring for diabetes more than the other; when bedroom doors became opened all of the time; when discussions revolved all around blood glucose numbers; and who was doing, or not doing, what. Remember when a dad was just a dad? Perhaps we all need to work at getting back to that a little more.

This Father's Day, let's make an effort to remember what the man in your household was before diabetes: dad. Not just dad, but "Dad," the most incredible and wonderful title a man can ever own. Not perfect, with faults, but dad. A dad who does so much. Remember?

Some of the most incredible memories I have about my late father centers around baseball. It was the commonality we had. I loved it and he loved it too. I loved playing it, I loved watching it, I loved reading about it, and so did he.

My whole life, I observed him coach, helped him work on the pool and in the garden, helped him fix things around the house. I helped him with the trains and decorations at holiday time, and I helped him with his community activism. These were all aspects of his life that were slowly and methodically making their way into the fiber of my being. It was all making me who I would become. He was far from perfect, but he was something bigger than life to me — he was my dad and I loved him.

Most only get one dad. I say most because, in some cases, an incredible male figure steps into a situation and is just as close as any dad can be, or two moms are the parents in a domestic partnership. But for the most part, we all only have one dad. One day, as life rolls along, dad will be gone. I long every day to hear my dad's laughter, his witty lines, his humor, his sarcasm, and his voice just one more time. I was his "Auggie Doggie" from the famous cartoon. As he lay in his hospital bed the night before he died, I walked in and he said "Hello, Auggie Doggie."


Just one more time I so long to hear that phrase from his mouth. My heart shatters at that longing. Acceptance of death is hard in any case, and I'm unsure if I've accepted it yet. But I have become accustomed to it, as Elizabeth Edwards writes about death. I miss my "Doggy Daddy."

One of my kids asked me once how it is that I became so adept in the many workings around the house (I'm not, but they think I am). I always answer, with a smile, that I learned these things in Daddy School. Daddy School is everyday, and there is always one teacher and one pupil. It's a school that's in session each moment we spend with our dads.

Take a look around you this month of Father's Day and celebrate the man who coaches, fixes, works, succeeds, fails, tries, hugs, listens, makes you laugh, corrects, disciplines, understands, plays catch, wrestles, tickles, advises, discusses, hurts, and even deals with diabetes in his own way. He has many titles, but the one loved more than any other is hearing a child's voice calling "Dad." Let him know, as the father of your children or as your father, how much he means to you. One day you'll either be glad you did, or wish you had. Trust me, I learned it in Daddy School.

Happy Father's Day, I'm a Diabetes Dad.

Read more of Tom Karlya's Diabetes Dad columns here.

Like Tom's Facebook page.


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 12, 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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