I am a Greyhound. At least that’s what father said. He deemed me a “champion” on the heels of my first remembered defeat almost 20 years ago.
“… when Greyhounds grow up, they are the strongest and fastest dogs in the world. They are the best of the best, and all the other dogs want to be a Greyhound.”
He wanted the best for me. He hoped for me. Prayed for me. Wished for me things he’d never even dreamed for himself. He loved me. He was my father. I am his son.
I am still “…skinny and awkward. Shaky on my feet.” But I am growing up by looking back.
The only problem with looking back is that your vision sometimes blurs. Except for the scars, yesterday is never very clear. I have enjoyed my life thus far. I have the scars to prove it. The best parts are still a bit out of focus, but they’re coming back to me. Every day. Looking forward, filling it with laughter.
Oh, the irony of it all.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” is a progressive neuro-degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS victims eventually lead to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.
Yet, through it all, for the vast majority of people, their minds remain unaffected.
This story is about me. I am not sick. I do not have ALS, nor do I show a single symptom of the disease. I am a happy, healthy father of four living in Birmingham, Alabama. But my father had it. For nineteen months, he battled the disease named after one of his heroes.
And he lost. Bygones.