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Glenn, 1946-1988

Glenn, 1946-1988

He was my Pa Pa and I was his princess. He was the most glorious man on Earth and I was completely infatuated with him. The first time I lost my father was in 1980 when my parents divorced. The final time was 1988 when he succumbed to the cluster of illnesses that accompany AIDS. Daddy was only 42. In 1986 he was one of the first thousand cases in Dallas County, Texas. It was called the Gay Man’s disease. No one knew where it started, what it was, how it was transmitted, or how to treat it. I was 13 at the time of his diagnosis. I remember going to Parkland with him on one occasion. I remember thinking and feeling like he was being treated like a guinea pig. Even at such a young age, they could not answer my questions. We were clueless as to what we would face during the next two years.  The blessing we stumbled upon was the AIDS hospice. At that time the US was just becoming familiar with hospices. They had been in use in Britain for years. Had it not been for them, I don’t know what we would have done. My dad lived in the Oak Lawn neighborhood of Dallas and we lived 45 miles southwest of there in a small rural community with my mom. My mom would drive to Dallas after work and on weekends to check on my dad even though they had been divorced for years. She knew something was wrong and that he wasn’t himself. She eventually called his mother when it became too much for us to handle. My dad had weeping Kaposi’s sarcomas and when the hospice would ask what he needed he would mention bandage supplies. One day he was found passed out. He had no food in the house. He had developed an encephalopathy and would focus on whatever symptoms was his largest issue at that moment or on that day. The hospice worker is the one that found him and saved him. I don’t know any of their names or where they are but I remain in their debt because my daddy wasn’t alone. My father passed sometime later but it was with my grandmother at his side. I have heard some of his friends made a square for him on the AIDS quilt but I have not seen it. His encephalopathy was bad enough his friends and caretakers believed he had no family. I had grown up saying I was going to be a doctor. Life happened and my path changed. I am now a registered nurse and recently completed my Bachelors of Science in Nursing. Had it not been for all the people and experiences along the way, I would not be where I am today.

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