Please welcome Renee DeMont to #BeREALationships
Tell me one thing you are super proud of yourself for this week. I want you to brag about yourself. None of this being humble crap. Give it to me. I want to be proud of you too. #bereal
When I read HastyWord’s post I didn’t hesitate to comment:
Flew my handicapped father to the east coast and made his dream of sitting on the Atlantic and eating lobster come true. He’s 78. Said, “It was the trip of a lifetime!”
Hasty’s response, “OMG. That is amazing. I love this. You should write a post for me. I would love to share that story for you.”
I smiled to myself and wrote, I’d be honored…
He’s my dad.
Hasn’t always been. Didn’t even meet him until I was twelve—after my biological parents realized they had somewhere else to be, something else to do, this man wholeheartedly volunteered for the job.
Can you imagine? I was a teenager he barely knew. Put his arm around me, gave my shoulder a little squeeze and assured me, “You are special. You wanna know why? Because you are hand picked.” I was now his daughter.
Adopted me and my brother after fostering over two dozen kids in the system. Was an orphan himself as a child. In the end, they adopted four of us legally. Many still call him dad.
Stepped up to the plate when I turned thirteen and stood by my side ever since. I am now fifty.
He’s honest and kind.
He’s hungry-like, all the time!
He’s cantankerous and opinionated and elderly too.
He’s my dad.
I treasure our time together.
This past year I’ve noticed he’s been slowing down. Had his knees replaced but he still cannot walk more than fifty yards without his walker. Had a stroke after mom died…had to be real with myself and acknowledge our quality time together would be taking on a whole new definition in the short years to come.
One night the writer in me began to ask my father questions: Why did your mother die when you were only one? What was it like for you living in the Catholic orphanage? Why were you married to that Playboy Bunny for only three weeks (seriously) ? How did you and mom meet (great story btw!)… and finally, did you do everything in life you wanted to do?
“You know what? I did, except there is just one more thing on my bucket list: I’d like to go to Maine, sit on the Atlantic coast and eat lobster.”
Dumbfounded, I asked, “Really? Maine?! You want to FLY to the other side of country? With your knees? Dad, that won’t be an easy trip.”
“Yep. That’s what I’d like to do.”
So I booked the trip. Why? Because he’s my dad. And a pretty rockin’ one at that.
You know what I learned?
1 – No matter how daunting the challenge of traveling with a loved one who will need extra consideration appears to be, it is important to go. Just do it. I am not naive; knew it wouldn’t be stress free, nor incident free, but I understood going in if I planned well and rolled with the punches, in the end, I would be proud of myself.
2 – Our countrymen treat our handicapped in a way that left me in awe: Everywhere where we went folks stepped aside, let dad pre-board the plane, had a wheelchair waiting in Boston as we exited, pushed him down to baggage claim for me too. Hotels provided courtesy wheelchairs when needed, the Ben & Jerry’s tour guide met us at the end of the ramp and insisted on pushing his heavy chair all the way up the ramp all the while chatting happily— tours in general went at a slower pace for us. Tourists, waiters, locals made allowances for my father’s disability over and over—with an almost reverent joyfulness that continually surprised me. Couldn’t help but notice folks took our slower pace as an invitation to stop and chat. Lovely. My father felt seen, heard, appreciated throughout our adventure. He was the star of the show. Wonderful to witness the world through his eyes.
3 – Caring for the elderly is physically and mentally challenging. Even more so when it is someone you love. Only in retrospect, did I realize how important my father’s overall experience had been to me. The daily logistics alone were no easy feat. Had to plan ahead, and when I ran out of gas along the highway in New Hampshire, I had to think on my feet; the senior and the teenager were depending on me. Solved our problem—in fact, I pulled it off for nine days straight (amazing, I know). Exhaustion set in on the flight home. Slept for two days after my head finally hit my own pillow. It was a peaceful satisfied kinda sleep knowing what I had done was nothing compared to what that man had done for me all those years ago.
4 – Spending nine days 24/7 with her grandfather is a memory my daughter will cherish. When you put yourself in a situation that requires everyone to think and work together it will either lead to cat fights or concern. Concern leads to bonding. Bonding leads to dancing in the souvenir store with your grandfather and giggling (knee braces and all). Then coming home and sharing your stories with your friends—and more giggling.
5 – Dad realized his dream. He checked off that last item on his bucket list. Feels fantastic to know I had a little something to do with that.
Wanna know why?
Because he chose to be my father when no one else wanted to.
Because he’s my dad. ♥
Renee DeMont is a SURVIVOR. She was born into poverty; spent much of her childhood homeless, living on the streets of Los Angeles, and in foster care. Renee learned early on: life is about adapting to adversity. The greatest gift she ever received? No one expected anything from her. By 18, she was ready to experience life on her own terms. First one in her family to attend college. After college, her focus and determination earned her a spot working at Paramount Studios, on the #1 show in television, “Cheers”.
At 29, Renee gave entrepreneurship a go and began a Biomedical engineering business out of her garage. Twenty years later, that risky venture grew into 8,000 square feet of success. She broke the cycle of poverty that plagued her family for generations. Recently, Renee turned fifty, filed for divorce (he declared WAR), and trudged through a debilitating nervous breakdown.
Through therapy and writing, she reclaimed her sanity. Sold her half of the business to the ex, and now she has clarity and choices. Renee is personally and financially independent. With her new found freedom, she chooses to write in a sincere effort to reconcile her past with her present. Hopefully, through this cathartic process, the second half of her life will be led by her soul’s desire, rather than by the fears and doubts of her first half.
Currently, she lives in South Orange County with her teenage son and daughter, and her high maintenance yet lovable dog, Joe. Soon to be an empty nester, she plans to downsize the big house in the OC bubble, for a bigger life in the real world. Her days are spent gently launching her almost grown children into adulthood, and passionately penning her memoir.
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