Five years ago I did something different. My Father had been falsely diagnosed with a diabolical disease called Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. It’s a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Our whole family was feeling very grateful. I wanted to show the world how much I wanted to give back. I had just read the book the 29 gifts and decided that I needed some good karma in my life. I decided that in honor of the 64 years of my father’s life I would up the ante and give a gift to someone for 64 days straight. A gift for every year of his life. It was a life altering experience, and I enjoyed every second of it. But here’s the rub – Dad did have ALS. It took a few months for us to find out, but there it was.
A terminal disease.
Since then it’s been a slow, painful march for my family. We’ve been hit with bullets to the arms, then legs, and now chest. We’re on our backs, gasping for air. We’re furious, and frustrated. Helpless. The only thing we have control of is how we view the world. Should we lick our wounds and say, “why us?” Well, it’s not happening to “us”…is it? It’s happening to my Father, so what good would that do? He certainly doesn’t seek anyone’s pity.
Personally, I choose to believe that if I give something good and unsolicited to someone else that I can truly create a ripple of good in this world. Bad things happen to good people every day. I get it. I won’t succomb to the rage. I won’t lash out. I just won’t.
My Dad, Adrian Dessi turned 69 on October 23rd, 2014. We celebrated Sunday at my parent’s home. I helped him thumb through his old St. John’s Prep yearbook from 1963. We chatted about where Dad was when Kennedy was shot. I held a tumbler of Scotch I’d bought him for the occasion to his lips. I had to help him, because he can’t put a drink to his lips. I scratched the back of his head because he couldn’t. My Mother fed him his birthday cake.
I watched and felt fury, anger, and rage.
His grandchildren had to be picked up and held to his face to kiss him and wish him a Happy Birthday.
I felt fury, anger, and rage.
But, I’m also sick. I’m sick of feeling fury and anger and rage. I want to feel light. I want to feel the way things felt before Dad was sick. I want to laugh with him. I want to go for walks and ask him his advice, but I can’t. I can only sit on a stool next to him, and give him updates, and listen to his soft whisper of an answer. I know he wants to talk to me for days, and I know he can only muster phrases. But I want more. I want to share with everyone that this isn’t the way it’s always been.
I want to pass on the glow and the warmth of the love of my Father. I want people to know what a great man he is. I want people to understand that he’s not a saint, but he’s the most perfect man I’ve ever met.
Perfect in his imperfections.
Perfect in his love for his family.
Perfect in the manner in which he conducts himself throughout trauma.
When I did the 64 day challenge I had a ball. I thought my Dad was spared. Today I believe it holds more weight. In the face of the urge to feel anger and rage, I choose love. I choose light. I choose to pay it forward. To make people feel the way my Father chose to make me feel my entire life.
Special, loved and protected.
I’m going to document my gifts here. So come back every day. Will you help me? I need to figure out what I can do to help? No deed is too small, or too big (I’ll try to make some cool things happen within my means). Let me know of people, or organizations, or movements that you think need my help? Add in the comments, or email me directly – email@example.com. Or find me on Twitter – @chrisdessi
I’ll do everything in my power to make it a reality. Really.
So today, I start it. Come along with me.
5 thoughts on “69 Day Giving Challenge”
You have a spirit and resolve like no other. What a wonderful idea to honor your dad this way. Have fun on your giving challenge and wish your dad a happy birthday from me… Laura
That was beautiful, Chris. You are an amazing man. Good luck.
Chuck and I will pray for all of you each day.
Your story was touching. Your Dad is a hero, championing great things from his family because of and in spite of his sacrifices. Very touching.
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