This is a real-life story about my 81-year-old father, who is the wind beneath my wings, and someone I depend on for his wisdom, support, encouragement, love, and inspiration.
The theme that runs throughout this story, a bit late for Father’s Day, but important and relevant nonetheless, is that no matter how difficult things may be, no matter how challenging times get, I have always been able to count on my dad.
My promise to my dad is of hope and inspiration. We’ve found a way to communicate with one another, open up about our struggles and setbacks, and found uplifting moments that inspire us to overcome our challenges.
Although both my dad and I are successful in many aspects of our lives, our relationship is not about academic accolades, popularity, or financial success – it’s about making our dreams come true and leaving a legacy.
Growing up my dad would read aloud from books like ‘Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, ‘The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton, and ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. My dad sought to be a positive thinker and to never give up even when facing his greatest fears.
I can’t say for certain what dreams or aspirations my dad had earlier in life, other than knowing he, like so many Canadian boys, loved the game of hockey and perhaps thought he’d like to play in the NHL someday. But what I do know is that his physical abilities were severely challenged after a spinal cord injury the year I graduated from high school.
My dad has since spent the last 30+ years in a wheelchair, contemplating his life, rejigging his priorities, and excelling as an advocate for the physically challenged.
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – which in my case simply means that both my dad and I are stubborn and can get on one another’s nerves.
But for the most part, we are driven to exceed our goals and ambitions and excel in building relationships and breaking down barriers.
Together we have become social advocates and philanthropists, keynote speakers, educators, and relationship builders, and grounded by our faith in God and the love and support of our family and friends.
I know the world presents individuals with a plethora of challenges each day, from unemployment, relationships, stereotypes, medical, physical, natural disasters, and the list goes on – and that we all have different coping methods or means to persevere, thrive and survive.
But in the context of this story – my focus is on how my dad chose to face adversity head-on and how he has truly become the wind beneath my wings and an inspiration to many.
Prior to his spinal cord injury, my dad was educated, but not as successful or particularly satisfied in his career as I can only imagine he would have liked to have been.
He was the sole breadwinner, affording my mom the opportunity to stay-at-home and be an awesome domestic CEO. She cooked, cleaned, baked, sewed, carpooled, and volunteered for everything.
Post his spinal cord injury, my dad seemed more determined than ever to survive, thrive, take care of his family, and leave a legacy of hope and inspiration for others.
He pursued new employment opportunities, returned to university, expanded his social network, donated generously where and when he could, became an advocate for things he’d experienced or believed in, solidified his faith in God, and on occasion, was humbled by his experiences.
No matter how my life has intertwined with my dad’s – our experiences are our own – but I will always be his little girl, interested in his opinion, open to his suggestions, humbled by his strength and determination, and appreciative that we are both, for each other, are the wind beneath our wings.
Jacqueline Biollo loved being a politician. And even though that experience was short-lived, she learned the importance of standing up for a cause you believe in, advocating on behalf of others, doing your research and presenting the facts, and being strategic in problem-solving and innovative thinking. She shares these ‘a-ha’ moments with ones her dad no doubt has also had, as an educator, entrepreneur, and relationship builder. Jacqueline is so immensely proud of everything her dad has accomplished, despite his personal setbacks.