A Song for My Father

A beautiful tribute from a son to his stroke survivor dad.



Ron & his father

I am a Hip-Hop musician and artist, so when I have a story to tell, my first impulse is to write a song. My song “Waiting for the Day” is a tribute to my father, Ronald Stephenson, Sr. It’s built around sharing our family’s experience with almost losing him during his stroke. It expresses my love for my dad, but I also hope it raises awareness about the impact strokes can have on an entire family. In the next few paragraphs, I will share the background behind the song. (See video below)

In January 2001, I received a phone call from a family friend that changed my life. The family friend told me my dad, who was home alone, called him because he had lost feeling on his left side and fallen. The friend had called 9-1-1.

I left work and headed to my dad’s house, speeding the whole way. After calling 9-1-1 on my mobile, and confirming an ambulance was on its way, I called my dad. He answered the phone, but he was so distraught he didn’t recognize me. I was terrified.

The ambulance arrived before I did, and my dad crawled down the stairs to open the door for the emergency personnel who took him to the hospital.

I’m anxious, but patiently waiting for the day When I can truly say That everything is alright The dark turns to light

— Lyrics from Waiting for the Day

At the hospital, my mother and I were told that my dad had suffered an extremely severe stroke. Although he was 50 at the time, the doctors said the stroke was of a degree more likely to be suffered by an 80 year old. Two days after the stroke, the doctors advised my mother and me not to visit him in ICU. They said that the brain swelling and damage was so bad that he was not going to make it, and that we wouldn’t want to see him in the unconscious state he was in. His death seemed imminent.

Surrounded by friends and family, my mom and I waited for the phone call. Every time the phone rang, we expected the end. If I slept, I would hear phones ringing in my sleep. Thankfully, the phone call we were expecting never came. My dad eventually woke up, and thanks in no small part to my mother’s unbelievable sacrifice and support, he is still living as I write this, nearly 13 years later. Still, as other stroke families know, the effects of a stroke are long-lasting and life-altering.

Ever intelligent and confident, my dad had worked his way up to executive positions at prominent companies and later operated a successful small business. He was my childhood playmate, and he is still my model for manhood and strength. These days, along with his investment advice, he encourages me to exercise and maintain a healthy diet. I am thankful he is still with me to see me publicly use my music and this article to say how proud I am of him.

R.S. (Ronald Stephenson Jr.)
Atlanta

 

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Stroke Rehabilitation Two-Part Series

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

What to Expect in Stroke Rehab

Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type rehabilitation. In this second of our two-art series, we want to alleviate some of the mystery, fear and anxiety around the inpatient rehab part of the stroke recovery journey.
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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear.

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try
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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

Of the four lobes that make up the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobe is the largest. It plays a huge role in many of the functions that make us human — memory, language, movement, judgment, abstract thinking.

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
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Departments

Stroke Notes

Stroke-related news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Readers Room

Articles, poems and art submitted by stroke survivors and their loved ones.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These stroke survivors, caregivers and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Everyday Survival

Practical tips and advice for day-to day living after stroke.

Life At The Curb

A unique perspective on survival by comedian and stroke survivor John Kawie.

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.

Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!