Vol. 10


My Papa’s Journey of Faith and Love

1973–1976; Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

The pain in his arms and legs had him feeling he couldn’t get out of bed. He felt sadness, because his body couldn’t go as quick as it once had and he was unable to look up at the birds or trees while walking with his crutches. Imagine having doctors tell you that you have only three more years to live, knowing you have a wife, two young daughters, and many dreams for your life. This is what my papa experienced in February of 1973, when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, or “MS.”

Multiple sclerosis affects the central nervous system, and not much was known about this in 1973. The disease causes damage to the brain that can affect many of the body’s functions, like walking, seeing, balancing, and coordination. One known fact is there is no cure.

My papa was twenty-eight years old when he was diagnosed with MS. He was in medical school and struggled with many things, like writing, seeing, and walking. He experienced pain, and struggled to lift his legs and arms. Walking and getting out of bed kept getting harder to do. This was difficult for him, because he had always been very active and independent, but now he had to rely on others at times for help. My grandmother attended classes on the days Papa couldn’t get out of bed. She tape-recorded the classes for him, and then later helped him write the notes. Doctors didn’t know how to treat this disease, which is why they gave him only three more years to live.

Papa struggled to use crutches, and would fall often in the school hallway and at home. He had many friends, but they became uncomfortable and would watch him fall without offering any help. However, the school janitors would see him fall and rush to his side to help him get up.

Papa relied on my grandmother and a small group of friends for support, because he was going through so many changes. He also was a devout Catholic and put his faith in God that he was going to get through his illness and be there for his family. He prayed daily for strength and understanding. He didn’t want to give up his dream of being a doctor — and he didn’t. In June of 1976 he graduated from medical school, where he had studied physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Papa was a doctor until he was sixty-eight years old, and often saw patients with disabilities and other limitations. Some would tell him that they looked at him as a role model because he had followed his dream and had never given up, even with his disability.

Papa is now seventy years old and has been living with MS for forty-two years. Even though he continues to face struggles with his MS, he gives a lot of the credit for getting him through those struggles to my grandmother’s strength and love, and more importantly, to his trust in God.

Sierra Creek, granddaughter of Papa; Missouri, USA


This copyrighted story may be copied for limited classroom use or reprinted in an article about The Grannie Annie.


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