My own father, James Edward Thomson, was a gentle, kind and funny man who was much loved and died too young. My Dad was the embodiment of what it meant to be an officer and a gentleman. He was a terrific athlete and taught me and my sister how to stick-handle like Jean Beliveau and drive a golf ball 300 yards, or at least keep trying. My Dad passed away in 1975 after three debilitating strokes, and I still miss him.
My husband Jim is like my Dad in some ways. He is loyal, clever, hard working and detail oriented. Jim helped the children with their math homework when I became mystified by the equations early in their academic careers. He reviews Nicholas' health claims and finds extra cash by reading the fine print and closely examining our complicated files. Jim feels the heavy responsibility of single-handedly creating the social safety net in our family by making financial, pension and insurance arrangements that will keep all of us safe and worry-free for our lifetimes.
He watches hockey games with Nicholas and taught Natalie how to ride her bike. He skied with Nicholas when we were members of the "National Capital Disabled Ski Association" and he rigged a way for Nick to waterski sitting on a windsurf board with a teenaged helper behind our boat.
In her book, "Love's Labor", Eva Kittay talks about mothering a child with severe disabilities as "testing the very boundaries of what it means to be a parent". But I would suggest that being a father does that too. I know that my husband feels the entire weight of responsibility for our financial wellbeing. Today, I want to say thank you to my husband, my own dear father and to all the fathers who inspire and contribute to special needs families today, yesterday and tomorrow.