In one of the most touching photos I've ever seen, a dying man reaches out to touch the grandchild he'll never meet outside of the womb. The dying man happens to be the father of Parenthood actor Dax Shepard, and the belly belongs to his wife, Kristen Bell, and their unborn child. The photo accompanies one of the most touching blog posts I've ever read -- the account of Dax's father's last days as he died of cancer.
In Dax's first blog post, he describes teaming up with his father, a recovering alcoholic, to tackle the cancer, which had taken over his body. Despite the fact that Dax's dad, Dave, wasn't there for Dax and his brother when they were children, missed their birthday parties and soccer games, and was more concerned about food, booze and sex than being a father, Dax became his primary caregiver in his last months -- even though Dax was in Los Angeles busy filming Parenthood and his wife, Kristen, was pregnant, and his father refused to leave Detroit.
He chose me to deal with all the doctors and creditors and landlords. It was the only project we ever teamed up on. We never built a tree house or a soap box derby car together, but you would have never known it by watching us tear through chemo decisions and radiation plans. We were two great minds with one single thought: get into the end zone gracefully.
Dax also reveals that his father had been a member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 25 years, and that his fellow AA members also took on vital roles as companions and caregivers.
But it's the anecdote at the end that will have you wiping away some tears. Dax writes how one day Kristen showed up at Dave's hospital, just about the time Dave was seriously going downhill. She lifted up her shirt and Dax's father ... well, let Dax tell it:
She had flown in from LA without any warning. It was a surprise. It was an amazing, incredible, perfectly timed surprise. She lifted her shirt up and he put his hand on her swollen stomach. He left it there for the better part of an hour. He was smiling from ear to ear, sitting contently, unable to put together a sentence, but still capable of connecting to the new family member we were creating. He wasn’t going to make it to the birth, but that didn’t get in the way of him meeting the new baby. It was an emotional and triumphant moment. One I will never forget. If I live to be a thousand, I will still be in debt to my wife for giving him that one last thrill.
Dax's father died shortly thereafter. But he did get to meet his grandchild.
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Image via Dax Shepard Tumblr