As I type this, my dad lays on the operating table in Miami.
Surgery just finished.
Today he received a brand new heart. It was beating fast and furious. Strong, regular beats. But now there are a few problems, and the surgeon hasn’t closed him up yet, but I know it’s just a matter of time, before they wheel him into the ICU, and we watch as he recovers, grows strong, and begins again.
Do you know what he did with those 20 minutes? He packed. He pooped (not surprising if you know my dad) and he called me and my sister. Only twenty minutes, and he called me. And I don’t think I told him Thank You.
I told him “What???” I asked him “How?” and “Why?” But I didn’t say “Thank You.”
So, I’m saying it now.
Thank you Daddy. Thank you for running with me in that race when I was in the 1st Grade, when we got our picture in the newspaper. Thank you for taking me to the gym all those times when I was a kid, even though it would have been easier for you to go on your own. Thank you for teaching me to ride my bike, and forcing me to hike up steep hills when I thought I would die, and for buying me Watermelon Nerds at the Gas Station. For holding me down and farting on me, and making me wonder if I would die from the smell or from shear laughter. For being the most buff, coolest, toughest, strongest Dad in the neighborhood, but being the most gentle dad in my heart. For motivating me to always be my best, to be kind, and to have an open heart to all who enter my life. And thank you for thinking of me, when you should have only been thinking of yourself. Thank you for calling to make me feel okay, when it was you we should have been worried about. Thank you. Thank you. For being my dad.
I’m gonna miss that old heart of yours. It was a good one. It loved me well. But now, you have a new heart because that old one just gave so much love away, that it was tired and worn out.
I pray that your new heart loves me hard, loves me tough, and loves me long. I pray that my kids will get to know you, and see you ride and laugh and play again like we used too.
New heart fight. New heart be strong. Be well, my Gladiator. We need you.
Please pray for my father.
If you’d like to know more about my Pops, you can read his memoir, The Memoir of An American Gladiator: My Story. Son of the south, Decorated Soldier, Friend, and loving Father.
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Today, do something good for your heart.
Tell the people you love, you love them.
Tell them thank you, you need them, and more importantly you want them.
Go into the kitchen, and treat yourself to something good.
Something good for you. Good for your heart. We mustn’t forget to love ourselves.
15 minute Quinoa Salad with Carrots, Tomatoes, and Beans
A delicious heart healthy meal in about 15 minutes.
1 TB Olive Oil
1 Cup Quinoa, uncooked
2 cups water
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Cumin
1 Tomato flavored bouillon cube
1/4 large bunch of Cilantro
Two large handfuls of spinach
1 Green Onion
1 large tomato
1 15 oz. can Pinto Beans (or your fave), rinsed and drained
1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add quinoa and toast lightly for 2-3 minutes. Add water, garlic powder, cumin, and tomato buillon and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 12-15 minutes covered.
2. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the vegetables by grating the carrots, chopping the spinach and cilantro, and chopping the green onion and tomato into small 1/4 inch pieces. Set aside.
3. When the quinoa has only 4 minutes left to cook, add the rinsed and drained beans.
4. Once the quinoa has finished cooking, remove from heat. Add the vegetables, mix well, and cover and allow to sit for a few minutes to wilt and steam the vegetables. Serve, warm, room temperature or cold. Your heart will thank you for it. And so will your mouth