Remembering My Dad

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! I know all you dads think you’re the best and your family loves you, and you are absolutely right. Your family loves you, even if they never tell you, they really do love you.

I once heard something from somewhere a long while ago and I can’t even remember where I heard it from, but it’s stuck with me ever since.

“Anyone can be a father, but only a real man can be a dad.”

In honor of Father’s Day, I’d like to remember my dad. This is one of the hardest posts I’ve ever made. I started crying uncontrollably when I first started.

Brandon L. T. Baysa was born in Hilo, HI on February 21, 1971 to Benjamin and Lorna Baysa. He was the third of four children and the only boy. He attended the schools in the Waiākea district. He attended one semester in college before giving that up and going in to the workforce. At the age of 18, he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

He was a very hands-on person and liked to fix up cars and build things. As far back as I can remember, he would have fixer-upper cars and every weekend or so he would go out in the garage or on the driveway and fix whatever car or truck we had. He had model cars and airplanes that he built from kits and kept them in plastic cases to display on the shelves. We still have some of them.

He loved helping people and made friends fairly easily. He was always going some place to help someone with something. And all the while he would talk everyone’s ears off. He was the podagee of the family and I know I definitely take after that.

A podagee is someone who likes to talk and talk and talk and talk. They have said goodbye to you at least five times in the last two hours and still haven’t left yet. Most of the time it’s meaningful conversation and as they’re just about to finish they remembered something else they wanted to ask you or tell you about and it was definitely because they thought of you not because they like the sound of their own voice. They have two-sided dialogs, not one-sided monologues.

Anyway, he loved my sisters and I. Whatever new thing we were interested in, he would indulge us in it. I wanted to join karate, he made my tonfa when I advanced in the class. I wanted to join soccer, he made sure I went to every practice, he came to every game. He had my sisters join too and he coached them for a few seasons. I wanted to take aikido lessons and when I advanced to the adult class he made my jo staff, wooden tanto, and bokken and he even sewed the bag to put them in.

I was surprised my dad could sew. I found out that for his wedding, he made the sashes he and his best man wore and he helped clean my mom’s veil (she had used her mother’s wedding dress and veil for her wedding).

He was a huuuuuuuge geek. His interests included but were certainly not limited to: Star Wars, Star Trek, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, X Men, and Legos. He loved ninjas, survival gear, hunting and fishing, camping, guns, and pretty much anything outdoors. He even had a couple ghillie suits.

I remember one Halloween, he dressed in his ghillie suit and sat next to a table with a bowl of candy on the driveway and sat really still. When a kid came up very warily because they didn’t know what was on the chair, he’d jump at them and scare the crud out of them. He had to try and convince them to come back and grab some candy.

Later in life, I noticed dad was having complications with diabetes. His legs and feet were swelling and he lost feeling in his feet. He had sores on his body that took forever to heal and he would just randomly bleed. At one point he had to use a walker to get around and then he had to use a scooter. But then it started looking up, he was walking more and he didn’t need his scooter.

One thing I remembered was his insulin injection scars. He would inject into the same two locations on his abdomen every time and it became discolored. I don’t remember how often he took his insulin. I don’t think I ever heard him in pain when he injected either.

In 2014, he looked like he was getting better. He had lost weight and was moving around more and there was hope. But on May 20th, my parent’s 20th wedding anniversary, he came home from dialysis early complaining of a massive headache. I should have taken him to the hospital but instead I took him home. My mom came home from work that night and wanted to spend time with dad but he had fallen asleep. The next morning, May 21st, we were startled awake by my grandma. The world never stopped turning.

My greatest regret was not caring enough. It’s not like the internet wasn’t available at the time, so I could have educated myself, I just didn’t care enough. I was young and carefree. I thought dad was going to be around forever. I thought my dad was going to walk my sisters and I down the aisle. I thought dad was going to become a grandpa. I thought I had time. I never told my dad how much I loved him.

My dad is the reason why I do what I do. Everything I’ve done, I think, has led me to this blog, led me to help people with diabetes. I went to college and got my degree in History, my research skills are on point. After college, I worked at a credit union because I wanted to work with people. I left because I realized I wanted to help people not just work with them. I thought I wanted to help people with their finances, but I really wanted to use my degree. So I became a tour guide to teach people about the history and culture of my island. Then in October 2019, I had a spark. My diabetes was out of control.

I had my first appointment with an endocrinologist because my A1C was 9. He prescribed once a week Ozempic, but I couldn’t afford it. Then in January 2020, he prescribed me insulin. It hit, my diabetes was bad. My A1C was 11 and now I had to take insulin. I was going to end up like my dad. I didn’t want to so I decided to take my diabetes and get serious I should have done that from the start. I started this blog to become more accountable to myself and manage my diabetes better.

It’s because of my dad that I am here. I saw what this disease can do to you when you don’t properly manage it. I saw it take away someone I loved and it doesn’t discriminate who it takes. It doesn’t matter how much you love someone, poorly controlled diabetes will take them away from you.

I hope that the information I share on my blog helps to educate those with diabetes and those with diabetic loved ones alike so you never have to go through this. You can see the signs and take the necessary steps to manage it for yourself or help someone manage their diabetes so they never have to go through this alone. Please take this time to hug your children, call your parents, tell them you love them. Tell them you’re here for them.

Happy Father’s Day, dad. I hope I’ve made you proud.

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