I held his pale, cool hand while he took his last few breaths of life. The tears rolled down my cheeks and landed on my belly, which had been bearing my second child for eight long months. I squeezed tight and whispered, “thank you.”
In this moment, I realized that there was nothing I could ever do or say to repay him for all that he had done for me throughout my life. He picked me up after pre-school, he bought me my first bicycle, took me on family vacations, and helped put me through school. Most importantly, he was there for me when I needed a father.
Unlike typical adoptive parents who search high and low for that special addition to grow their family, my parents made the life-changing decision to take me in when I was put up for adoption as an infant. My aunt and uncle raised me as if I was their own. I was the third child they never asked for. They didn’t think twice about making room in their home, their family and their hearts for one more. Undoubtedly, the most valuable lesson they taught me in life is what it means to be selfless.
When I became a mother, it was imperative to me to instill the same value in my children. I teach them about the importance of service. To help others in need, to give back to the community, and to make the world a better place.
I envision the different ways that I will be able to one day explain to my daughters who are now 4 and 6, that I was adopted. Do I tell them? When do I tell them? How do I tell them? I don’t have all of the answers just yet, but there is one thing I do know. I can’t think of a better way to explain to my children what it means to be truly selfless. I wouldn’t be where I am, or who I am if it weren’t for the sacrifices my parents made in their lives.
Maybe there were no words to express my profound appreciation and gratitude in his last few minutes of life, but my father’s legacy of putting others before himself is part of who I am; it has become part of my family’s story and will never be forgotten.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa