Forty years ago today I became a dad for the first time. It was with wonder and awe that I held Jeane for the first time and felt the instant love a dad has for his child. From watching her wake from a sound sleep to dance to a Jack-in the-Box commercial on the radio during a Suns game, to playing soccer and softball, to making a speech at her 8th grade graduation, becoming the editor of her high school’s yearbook for 3 years, to her high school graduation speech, to the success she has enjoyed as an adult I couldn’t be more proud of her. I believe her greatest regret of her formative years is the 1 day of school she missed during those first 12 years.
To say I’m a proud poppa would be an understatement. To see her grow in her chosen field of education, rise into a District leadership role, and witness the accolades she has earned, respect of peers and administrators alike has warmed my heart. Jeane's work ethic has been unbelievable no matter the circumstance.
Sadly, as we celebrate her 40th birthday Jeane finds herself facing her new normal. Jeane has been fighting Multiple Sclerosis for 18 years. Refusing to give in after vowing to never let MS win she is probably the strongest person I have ever know. Jeane’s time as a teacher and life as she has known it has come to her fork in the road. Her body just isn’t capable of sustaining the rigors and demands of being in a classroom or the fatigue that doing everyday activities produces.
This week, the week she turns 40, Jeane’s new normal is learning that she is now on total disability. My heart breaks for her, but know she will deal with this as she always has with diginity and a fighting spirit.
We have talked about a 40 year old being 100% disabled and she has decided retired sounds better, so she will consider herself retired instead of disabled even though she still has to use the scooter and/or a walker. The label isn’t as important as the attitude. Especially when the results are exactly the same.