A Story Behind A Smile

At first I didn't know what to write about,but then I got to thinking about what you were saying about the inner city kids.   So it got me thinking about my daughter Caylie and  her story.  When I looked around at the girls at softball practice, I saw their smiling faces.  They were having a really good time, but what we don't see is the life behind those smiling faces.  We often don't know their life struggles, the day to day challenges people have to deal with.  Peer pressure, troubles at home, and the emotional struggles are all some of the issues that went behind my daughter Caylie and her smile.  So I thought I would share with you Caylies stories, some we talked about and some you don't know.  When I got divorced, Caylie was 4 years old.  I was awarded custody of her and decided to put my life on hold because I wanted to focus all my attention on raising my daughter in the best way I could as a single parent.  There were difficulties along the way such as a daughters wanting to have that motherly figure around.  Caylie starting to long for her mother when she was approximately 8 years old.  She started noticing that other families had a mother and a father but hers did not.  With a lot of depression, pain and sadness along the way, Caylie learned to cope with it all at an early age  .She realized that all families were different and there were other families like ours.  As she got older, she had to deal with pressures of being bullied and ridiculed at school.  Three years ago she started to get acne; I didn't notice the signs of her being bullied right away but her attitude had changed.  She became withdrawn and started not liking school which was not like her.  I just thought it was the normal pressures of school and didn't realize it was something much more.  A boy at school was teasing her because of her acne and others began to join in even the girls.  It had gotten so bad that see had to eat lunch by herself.  Nobody wanted to sit by her and this abuse went on for 2 years before I discovered it.  By the time she came to me her self esteem was damaged and she broke down in tears.  When she finally came to me, we talked to each other about how we would deal with the situation.  Of course I went to the principle first but it is not that simple.  She needed to build her self respect and confidence and stand up to the bully. We all know as adults bullies feed off of peoples weaknesses.  Her weakness was shying away.  I told her she needed to stand up to the bully and embarrass him in front of others and the bullying would stop.  That's just what she did.  During lunch he had called her pizza face and Caylie yelled at the top of her lungs "shut up Cortland" which was the boys name. Those three simple words embarrassed him and ended 2 years of bullying and because of that experience she has become much more confident in herself.  Now I have come to the point of the story that I haven't shared with anyone before.  It is hard to discuss one of the scariest times of my life.  You probably have noticed that I carry a bottle of water around with me. That is because in the summer of 2010 I was diagnosed with throat cancer and the radiation treatment left me without saliva glands. I had to go to the Mayo Clinic for surgery and the cancer was finally removed.  Currently today I am cancer free,but can you imagine what it would be like for an 11 year old child to find out that your only parent has throat cancer.  I was terrified as a father that Caylie would not have anyone who could take care of her day to day needs.  I truly felt for my daughter and all the emotions she had to be feeling and going through.  Caylie had some friends that told her that people that get cancer die from cancer and Caylie was really afraid.  It was difficult and hard to tell her everything will be ok when my cancer could have went either way.  It was toture for me not knowing one way or another how the outcome would be.  Through all the fear setbacks, challenges we have been through, I have noticed Caylie and I have become much stronger and grateful people.   I have realized that life is so precious and through every experience easy or tough comes something positive.   Today I enjoy watching Caylie hit homeruns over the fence and I enjoy life in a very special way!

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