A few months after my father’s death, I watched an episode of Oprah; it was about a woman who was helping some kids in a camp that didn’t have much money for supplies like crayons, coloring books and art supplies. She decided to begin randomly sending things to help offset expenses at this camp to honor the memory of a child, or perhaps it was a loved one, I don’t remember specifically but I remember knowing in that instant that my life would change again in a good way because of my Dad. I knew what I would do.
When you or a loved one is obese you learn to live with a prejudice unlike most. You learn to live with stares, humiliation and people pointing or laughing or asking how you got so ‘fat’. We learned with pride to ignore it. They didn’t know our Dad and his tremendous heart; they only saw his tremendous size. Our Dad made us better human beings because of his compassion and fearlessness, and he never missed an opportunity to stand up for himself. He rarely missed a day of work in a career than spanned 50+ years.
In January of 2001 I lost my father to complications due to obesity. He weighed 550 lbs at the time of his death and had suffered a stroke; A second stroke subsequently took his life. His second stroke could have been prevented had his body been able to fit in any CAT scan machine in the State of Virginia. My family and I worked day and night to care for my father throughout his 6-month, 6- different-hospitals ordeal, while many healthcare professionals turned a blind eye to the care of my Dad because of his size.