Sharing some of my MS experience

MS and missing my Dad

Three months after I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, my elderly father passed away due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.  I am still reeling, three years later.  As the middle child of four, and the youngest daughter, I was always close to my wonderful father.  He was a great provider, a wonderfully soft place for my two brothers and sister and I to fall all of the time, and a great example of a distinguished and loving husband and father.  I miss him terribly.  Many friends ask me when I finally came to grips with losing him.  My response is always “I will let you know.” 


Dad’s 86th birthday would have been Dec. 11, so he has been on my mind a lot these days.  One other thing to add about my father that resonates for me since my diagnosis – he was handicapped.  He contracted polio as a young child in rural Mississippi – one of the last victims of the disease before the vaccine was available.  He was the youngest of 5 children born to an itinerant preacher and his wife in 1922, and the only child that was able to graduate from undergraduate school. 


My father applied to medical school after completing a double major in Math and Physics at Morehouse College and earning a degree in Pharmacy.  After running a pharmacy for several years, he decided that he was interested in attending medical school.  At that time in the US, black students were not admitted to many schools in the South.  If they did get apply, the State paid for them to be educated at another school – usually a HBCU.  My father applied for and received the financial support to attend Meharry Medical School.  He then went on to earn a degree in Psychiatry from University of Pittsburgh.


As you can tell, my father was a strong, bright, amazing man.  He worked hard every day of his life, and provided his family with a phenomenal life where we wanted for nothing that I can remember.  Daddy’s example continues to be a major inspiration to me.  I know what it is like to be the child of someone who is physically handicapped, and I hope to be half of the example to our kids that he was to us growing up.


December 7, 2008 Posted by | African American health, losing a parent, multiple sclerosis, women's health | Leave a comment