Friday, December 14, 2012

Who Dat? A Fighter

He looks airborne in this shot
Watch out! I'm about to start bragging about my grandson again. If this kind of thing drives you nuts, I understand because I am a miserable bastard myself. I'd suggest skipping this post altogether or kicking some nun. If you do read this, just remember, I warned you.

I am no biological relation to Dat. My haters like to point that out and they are right. But unfortunately for him, I have always considered him my grandson. I was with him when he was born, and have remained a part of his life. He was born quite sick, with a large hole in his stomach, and it very nearly killed him. Doctors told us to prepare for his death, but they hung in there with him. One physician at St. Luke's - Dr. Unger - actually spent an entire day and night at Dat's side.

You see, Dat is a fighter.

For the first six months of his life, his home was a hospital. Much of that time was in intensive care, where he was in excruciating pain. Some weeks after his birth, I asked a nurse once why a tube was still in his mouth. She told me that if it was removed, we'd hear nothing but screams.

Eventually, one of his eyes opened. Then it was both. Piercing, sentient eyes that take in everything.

And then, despite everything that had happened, a smile.

After being released from the hospital, he was back again in two weeks, suffering from a heart problem compounded by pneumonia. After that, it was epilepsy. Time and again, he's been airlifted to a hospital. He's got more airmiles in a chopper than most paratroopers

Not exactly what you think of when you hear about a jock, is it? But it's true. Despite some bad bounce passes from life, he's a baller. Even in his dreams, his hands move as he makes free throws.

When he was just four, he played pick up baseball for the first time with some much bigger boys in Nazareth, two of whom are Bill Coker's grandsons. Dat loved it and them so much he made his mother bring him back the next day. "My team needs me," he told her.

It's been that way ever since. Football, baseball and the game he loves more than all others - basketball. He's played on more teams than I can remember. But Monday was a biggie - his debut as point guard at Nitschmann Middle School's "varsity" team. A 7th grader, he won a spot on the 8th grade team.

He grows an inch every week, but is still shorter than any of the players on his own team. He was also shorter than the ballers from Nitschmann's dreaded opponent, Parkland. So I figured coaches might play him a minute or two to give the starters a break. He started. Coaches played him the entire game. He finished with 16 points, 12 assists, 2 3-pointers and 3 steals.

He's still a fighter.

And he still smiles.

Updated: Why Dat? Dat is a Vietnamese name.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Pappy!

Anonymous said...

He is lucky to have a doting Pap Pap like you Bernie.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story! No need to apologize for it.


-Clem

Anonymous said...

Don't listen to anyone who gives you crap about calling him your grandson. You have been a part of his life from birth and you have earned the right to be his Pappy. The best part of this story is now I get to follow another good athlete play b-ball in the Lehigh Valley. Can't wait for him to hit high school.

Carol said...

Morning Bernie, biology doesn't make one a parent or grandparent, love and nurturing are the components of the cradle.

Ronnie said...

Hi Bernie,
This was the best Christmas time story I've read so far this year.

Humble beginnings, family love, encouragement, beating all odds, confounding doctors, and on to victory after victory.

In fact, if you wrote a book on the story of his life I'd pay extra for a signed copy.

Just a note to encourage you, Joseph wasn't Jesus' biological father either, but was no less his Dad throughout his life.
I think its absolutely wonderful that your grandson has you with him for his life's journey.
God Bless you both, and keep these stories coming!
Merry Christmas.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks for the very nice words everyone. It is nice and a surprise to see them instead of the usual hate.

Anonymous said...

Love everything about this post. I'm envious of you. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Thank yo as well Bernie, Merry Christmas to you and yours.

The Banker