My father passed away 25 years ago last month. Some days I can clearly remember playing with the tools in his work truck, or eating ice cream after dinner together. Other days it feels so removed that it may have been lived by a different person, and even looking at photos can’t spark the memory. Yet the void remains, as it always will, and every day brings different reminders of his absence.
The Thanksgiving before he passed, an ulcer ruptured in his stomach, and he lost a great deal of blood. We spent the holiday in the hospital with him, his life saved after he had received significant transfusions. We didn’t realize at the time, but the wonderful people who donated that blood bought us three more precious months with my dad. Those beautiful souls, who will remain forever anonymous, took half an hour out of their day and gave us one last Christmas. Talk about paying it forward…
The past several years, I have felt it appropriate to donate blood during the month of February, in honor of my dad. As homage to the people who donated to save him, and as an affirmation for me, knowing I can help save someone else. It costs no money, and very little time, and as the American Red Cross states, “The need is constant. The gratification is instant.” The month of March has been deemed Red Cross Month since 1943, and they look forward to recognizing and celebrating the everyday heroes in our communities – those who help their neighbors by donating blood, learning a life-saving skill, volunteering, or making a financial contribution.
One pint of blood can save three lives, or at the very least give a family one more holiday. I encourage you to be an everyday hero, too.