Monday, June 14, 2010

Lessons learned from "Swooping Hawk" a.k.a. Dad ....

I am sitting at my computer working on a USTA Boys 18 L1+ singles tennis event in October 2007 that is taking place later in the week when I get....... the call.
My sister sounds distraught. Our dad Dick Weiland is at 78 years old a bundle of nonstop energy. Dad works 7 days a week and sleeps about 4-5 hours per night. He is a well-known lobbyist in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Dad had been involved in a car accident late in the summer of 2007 that was bad enough that he needed a hip replacement. Dad like most old school guys of his generation never really complains about being in pain because it is not their nature to do so.
My sister informs me that a few days ago dad had taken a fall while on the steps of the Capitol building in Columbus, Ohio.
She had wanted him to see a doctor to get checked out.
After persistent prodding from my sister and my cousin Dr. Mike who was my dad's doctor, he will seek some further medical advice.
He is not doing well. After being admitted to the hospital he starts going downhill rapidly and with a high fever and infection and as well as some respiratory complications Dr. Mike pushes to get him in the ICU.
That is when I get.... the call. Dad is in bad shape.
Dad is on life support and may not make it through the weekend.
I go to work and speak to my bosses Dale and Angela.
They both tell me to drop everything and get back to Ohio. Leaving the tournament in the hands of my co-workers Dave and Lars I book my trip for the next morning. It is hard to imagine a world without my dad.
My Mom passed away almost exactly four years to the day before dad is admitted to the hospital. Upon landing at the Cincinnati Airport (actually in Kentucky) I head straight to Christ Hospital. My brother is also on his way from California.
Dad is alert although can't speak since he is on life support and breathing with help of a machine. But he scribbles stuff on pieces of paper and although most stuff is not legible his mind is still working, and I learn my first lesson from him. One he has taught me many times.
Even when you are in the worst possible situation in life don't dwell on your misfortune...... keep moving forward..... always..... keep moving forward.
Then out of the blue a Hasidic Orthodox rabbi walks into the room making his rounds of the Orthodox Jewish patients in the hospital. He walks in and we exchange pleasantries, and he inquires about dad's Hebrew name. The three of us a have no idea what his Hebrew name might be. We ask dad but he does not respond. The rabbi asks if we are Jewish.
We ignore his rude comment, and he leaves. Then dad scribbles on the paper. We try to decipher the note. It looks like Swooping Hawk?
Then he scribbles again. His camp name at Camp Kawaga in
Woodruff, Wisconsin in the 1940s.
The three of us erupt in laughter. Dad smiles. I have just learned lesson number two.
Keep your sense of humor..... even when the worst possible thing in the world is happening to you. Try to keep smiling.
Over the course of the next 48 hours I see my Dad fight for his life in an ICU room and when it is time for me to fly back to New York I know that he is going to win the battle.
Dad has always taught me that actions speak louder than words. Some people talk the talk but Dad walks the walk. He looks me directly in the eye when I tell him that I love him and I know the feeling is reciprocated as it is for my brother and sister. On my next visit to see him a few weeks later Dad has been moved out of ICU and his room is plastered with cards,flowers,pictures and letters. One is from the President of the United States. After speaking to many of his close friends I am beginning to realize that Dad is fighting so hard to get better because he is a man on a mission. He has lived his life to help other people. He is not about wealth or fame . He is about fighting for what he believes in. He is not about feeling the need to be liked by everyone.
Swooping Hawk makes it out of the hospital after 78 long days.
A long time ago Camp Kawaga gave a kid from Ohio a native American name and from this grown-up kid I have gotten my final lesson.
Never ever give up. Always fight for what you believe is right. Being the best you can be in life is all you can really do and........ try to smile.
Dad,Dicky,Richard...... thanks for being you and for being a great Dad.