Bobby Seeback (Story 2)
A Father's Valor
A Father’s Valor
My son Bobby sat across the kitchen table, fidgeting with the handle of his second cup of coffee. It was a substance his doctor had told him to drink in moderation. After a brief moment, he raised his head, and looking into the eyes of my wife Doreen and I, delivered a sentence that shocked us to the bone.
“Mom, dad, I have been given two months to live.”
I immediately scanned his youthful face for some evidence of a joke, when suddenly the realization of it hit me like a freight train. He had fought so hard, so bravely.
“There is a little bit of hope though,” he continued. “Dr. Koss told me that I am in congestive heart failure and that’s why it’s hard to breath. But, Dr. Nancy mentioned something about a heart transplant.”
That was Bobby, always finding a ray of light in a hopeless situation. He had been through countless courses of grueling chemotherapy. He had lost his spleen, appendix and half a lung in staging the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that had invaded him to his soul.
After all else had failed, he spent months in isolation and finally survived a stem-cell transplant only to find that the treatments had destroyed his heart muscle. Still, his outlook was positive.
What unbelievable courage, I thought, as I tried to keep my composure. I asked about the heart transplant.
“I don’t have many details,” he said, “but basically they take someone else’s heart and put it inside you. Then they give you medicine so your body doesn’t reject it.”
Looking back now as I hold my twin grandsons in my arms, I can remember the times when I carefully rolled him in a wheelchair, throughout the campus of Columbia Presbyterian medical center. We went from one doctor and one test, to another while they sought to find out if he was an acceptable candidate and if a transplant would benefit him in the end. Then there was the telephone call at 5:30 in the morning on St. Patrick’s day in 1996. When he excitedly told us from his hospital bed that a donor heart had come in that might be a match.
He survived that heart transplant, then met Nancy, who became his fiancee. Later he developed osteoporosis and needed a total knee replacement. From where did he summon the strength to endure? Yet still, he managed to dance wildly at his wedding.
Gazing into the eyes of his sons Daniel and Jonathan, I thought about how lion-hearted they will be if they adopt only a fraction of their father’s valor.
I will never forget the day when my son had come to me, and told me that his strength had come from me.
This story about Bobby Seeback was written by Bobby’s father, Robert H. Seeback.
The late Robert Seeback was the father of my friend and fellow Long Island TRIO member and transplant recipient Bobby Seeback, who speaks about organ donation emotionally and effectively to high school students on Long Island. Bobby received a heart transplant on March 17, 1996.