Tuesday’s Tale: A Big Heart
My dad, James Connor Clark, was an amazing man who loved life. He enjoyed the outdoors and loved to ride motorcycles. He was good with his hands, and capable of anything. He was such a kind man and it was not unusual to find him helping a fellow neighbor or over at the school fixing school playground equipment. He had a huge heart; unfortunately, his heart began to fail him at a young age.
Heart conditions ran in the family, and my dad lost his father and both of his brothers at a young age to heart attacks. During his 30s, Dad had a series of heart attacks. He had a double-bypass in his mid-40s and just a few years later his heart was so damaged that he was listed for a heart transplant in 1987.
Once he was listed, it was like we were all waiting for a new heart. It was tense, but hopeful. He was not able to do much physically and we were all terrified that “the call” wouldn’t come in time. Dad tried to keep a positive attitude but we knew he was hurting.
After a year of waiting and a few false alarms, he received the ultimate gift – a heart transplant on June 4, 1988. He was changed and he was able to live life again. Although he could not continue square dancing with Mom, they were still able to go to the events they loved in support of others. He was able to see me, his youngest daughter, graduate from high school and be around for everyday life with his family!
Thanks to his donor, Dad celebrated the second chance at life. The Christmas after his transplant we decorated our tree in all hearts, as we had received the greatest gift we could hope for.
Family and friends were more aware and more educated than ever about organ donation because of Dad’s transplant. His experience enlightened us and those around him.
We had two wonderful years with him thanks to his donor. Dad died in 1990 at the age of 51, but we still had more time together, and none of us can think of a greater gift. We wouldn’t trade that short time we had with him for anything in the world.