Resilience-A Tribute to My Father

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

In my last post, I talked about the correlation between optimism and physical health. For me, there is no better example than my father.

I was shocked to receive a phone call from him when he was just 54 years old telling me that he had experienced several silent heart attacks and had severe blockage of his coronary arteries. A year and a half later he had a quintuple bypass surgery. His health continued to deteriorate as he had more, mostly silent, heart attacks and a serious stroke. Although not one to fully retire, he had to pull way back from many of his business ventures. I vividly recall his “retirement” dinner when friends and family gathered to honor him. As a family, we didn’t believe he would survive many more years.

But he surprised us. Eight years later he was still going. (We called him the Energizer bunny.) At age 62 he had another bypass surgery. Although he almost died in the hospital, I remember bringing him home on a Sunday afternoon. I sat with him, talking in my parents family room, and he went into cardiac arrest. He was rushed back to the hospital and I remember my grief, certain he would not make it more than a few days.

He surprised us again. That was in 1988. He lived 15 more years, about 22 years from his first bypass. His health was not particularly good. He’d sit on the edge of the couch in pain many nights, due to angina as well as fractured vertebrae in his back from an accident at Lake Powell. He’d pop nitro tablets like they were candy. The doctors told us they’d never known anyone who would consume so much nitro to control his angina. They also reported that he had the most number of heart attacks ever recorded by a cardiologist at St. Josephs Hospital in Denver.

Here’s the amazing thing. He was happy … at least most of the time. My father has to be the most optimistic, resilient person I have known. He’d always bounce back from illness and defeat. He always had dreams and goals, still working on a book and doing personal counseling, almost to the very end. He loved being with people. He loved helping them be their best. He loved to laugh and joke. His easy manner drew people to him. I couldn’t believe the number of letters of love and support he received right after his second bypass surgery, way back in 1988. It was incredible.

Who’d a thought he’d live 78 years. People, knowing of his underlying medical conditions, would comment that they could not believe he was still going. It was almost a miracle, given his diabetes, his daily pain, a heart functioning at 30%.

Everybody said it was his incredible spirit, his hope and optimism, his sense of purpose and connection. Even after he passed away, they still commented. His hope and resilience and desire to live trumped his weak body.

About Roger K. Allen
Roger K. Allen, Ph.D. is an expert in personal transformation and family development. His tools and methods have helped tens of thousands of people live happier and more effective lives. To learn more, visit>.

11 responses to “Resilience-A Tribute to My Father”

  1. Melinda says:

    Grandpa really was a remarkable man! He was so upbeat and genuinely cared about everyone.

  2. Casey Gadway says:

    You are a tribute to the kind of a person your father is!
    The person you are is a reflection of how he lived his life!


  3. Glenn Martin says:

    Uncle Kay was an amazing individual! He is one of my heroes. I would have him sit on my figuative board of directors..His exemplary life served as a template for my life life map. He truly blessed my life in so many ways. Now in a similar life threatening situation I work every day to live as my Uncle Kay…upbeat, positive, and working every day to be not only productive but of service to others. I won’t go down without giving it my all….to the very end…just like KAY ALLEN,

  4. Pam Infanger says:

    Loved this man as I do you….never will forget the seminar when your assistant played the song about following in your Dad’s footsteps!

  5. Lynda Butterfield says:

    I knew Kay at church. He was a wonderful man who was a great example to me. There are many things that he taught me that I still remember and quote at appropriate times……… ie, how or when do we do things. On the Fear level, on the Duty level or in the Love level! I use it in talking about doing Visiting Teaching. Kay was fun especially when he and Harry B. and Noel B. were together. He and Doris were so kind to me and both were wonderful examples and friends to me for many years until there deaths.

  6. Kevin Ready says:

    C. Kay Allen chose me as his Elder’s Quorum President when he established the new Denver First (singles) Branch/Ward. I was a 2nd year law student and being Elder’s Quorum President was a significant undertaking in a congregation which was 100% Elders and similarly aged single women. It was a struggle for me but having Kay there for guidance was a truly transformative process for me. I lost touch with him in later years and was saddened to hear of his death. He had a profound impact on me and my peers.

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