My Father

My Father

MY FATHER, JONATHAN HILTON 1951-2008

Dad passed away after a long and courageous battle with Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. Jon gifted his body to Nova Scotia Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine so that even in death he would help others.

Bear River, Nova Scotia was his beloved home and he fondly thought of himself as one of the community’s original old-hippy-boys from away. When MS took him to Halifax at the end of the 80’s the memory and support of this community of friends, and the unconditional love of his family, kept him going through every challenge life couldn’t help but hurl in his way.

My mom said she found out she was pregnant with me at the same time the doctors told them that the father of her child had an aggressive progressive type of MS. He’d be lucky to live two years more, they said. It was her split second decision that would alter the course of all our lives – I needed a father, my father needed to be a father who’d eventually, but by the generous grace of our Creator (a year and a half later) was going to also father my sister, Erica Joy. Defying that original two year diagnosis, my parents got married. Along with my cousin, Wolfgang, two terrible-two’s shared the role of ring-bearers for Diane Axent and Jonathan Hilton.

For 28 years MS played on my father’s emotional wellness and acerbated his physical disabilities until he was unable to live without the help of others. Even though my parents divorced in the late 80’s they never separated in spirit as my mother was his life-long faithful friend and advocate. He counted on us to be all things to him – we were caregivers who always had his back and a strong loving family who never gave into his rants – instead we learned, along with him, just what it meant to take a disability and turn it into possibilities. When asked why I was such a big kid, I remember answering; “God made me this big so I could carry my dad.” That I did, right to the end I was by his side giving dad everything I had. At times costing me jobs and career opportunities, not to mention the emotional suffering family members are often subjected to at the hands of their terminally sick loved one.  But I was raised to be accountable to myself and my Creator and therefore I had to be present and caring for my dad until he took his last breath.

Erica, heart stone with our Dad’s ashes, Alexander

June 2011, Halifax hosted a Memorial Service for Donors to Medical Science. Then family and friends came to a picnic behind The Flight of Fancy in Bear River, NS, were a heart shaped stone pays tribute to my father’s life.  Some ashes are in his beloved river.  Five years later my sister Erica, Uncle Steve, Auntie Carol and a few of his very good friends gathered in Lemon Creek, BC to release Jonathan S Hilton’s final remains – my father’s earthy journey completed.