As is likely clear by now, Daddy was a very proud man.
Sometimes, his confidence would come off as arrogance, but I think to achieve everything he had achieved, you have to be a little cocky. He valued his independence greatly, and I don't think he ever imagined he could lose it at such an early age.
But that's exactly what happened when he suffered his stroke in March 2001.
I remember coming home and seeing him lying in his hospital bed, half of his face drooping. I looked at him and did not recognize who I was looking at. The confidence he always had was shattered. He was a shell of who he was. Seeing him like this made me extremely angry and extremely sad at the same time. Why didn't he take better care of himself??
The first 6 months after a stroke is the most critical time for someone to regain lost function. I thought Daddy would tackle his rehab as voraciously as he had tackled every other challenge in his life.
But he didn't.
He couldn't shake himself out of the depression he felt. And as a result, he didn't gain back very much function. But one thing he was determined to do was to go back to work.
He tried to, but he wasn't the same at work. There were rumblings at his job, and we started to get concerned that he would potentially be let go. Given all of Daddy's health concerns and the great coverage (at the time) that he received being a GM employee, we implored him to file for early retirement. After a great deal of discussion, he did.
And this man, who had always defined himself by his work and his ability to provide for his family, no longer could do so. And this crushed and haunted him I'm sure for his remaining days.
There was one person who viewed Daddy's stroke as a "blessing in disguise" since they feel it "humbled him". Words disgustingly said by this certain someone.
But that person didn't know Daddy at all.
Yes, he became more quiet and less boastful after his stroke, and perhaps that could be mistaken for humbleness. But the stroke didn't humble him; it broke him and for the next 13+ years of his life, he was a man who struggled to find himself.
And the thought of this continues to make me incredibly sad.