Dad’s steadfast support

Disclaimer: This post contains an instance of graphic detail regarding the effects of internal bleeding.

Dad and Valen as child

Valen as a child with her Dad

Noah and I have lived across the country from family and friends for six years. We often say that we spend more quality time with them versus quantity time given that we see our parents only once or twice a year since moving from Pennsylvania to California.

Recently, my Dad visited me while Noah was in Germany for work and we had a blast! I’ve always known how much my Dad loves me, but after his recent visit, I’ve been extra grateful for how he has supported both my mom and me over the years. We had conversations about life and PKD that we’ve never had before. I will treasure those talks and memories for life.

Picking up dad at aiport

Valen picking up her Dad at the airport

Dad and I have a lot of similar traits. We “get” each other; we’re silly together, and we like to have fun and talk a lot! A memory of our trip that I hold close to my heart occurred one morning when we were sitting on my front porch having breakfast together. We were discussing PKD and I asked him a question that I had never asked before. I was in the hospital for almost a year when I was 18 and 19, and during this time, Dad’s support was steadfast. He was there every minute he could be. I asked him what particular memories pop into his mind from those times, over 14 years ago. He shared the memory that he recalls the most and it is the same memory for me.

It was my sickest day. Shortly after both of my kidneys were removed, I started to have internal bleeding in my stomach. Dad was right there, pulling out the blood clots that I was vomiting up and choking on. I remember nurses running out of my room for help and Dad didn’t falter or lose his focus on helping me. The powerful words he said to me during our conversation were, “I never thought of leaving you.” He didn’t leave me that day, and his love, in addition to my mom’s, is what pulled me through and helped keep me alive.

Hiking in Auburn

Valen and her Dad hiking in Auburn, CA

Dad then said that the bad memories are not the only ones that he recalls. We reminisced and laughed about the fun times, like when I was being transported in my hospital bed to get a port and Dad made the transporters take a different route so I could see the outside world and breathe fresh air. Another time, in the dead of winter, he bundled me up in as many hospital blankets as possible and wheeled me outside so I could once again get fresh air. We tried to get through those immensely challenging times as best as we could.

Dad when he said i bring his world together

Valen’s Dad when he said she brings his world together

As we talked about women doing in vitro fertilization (IVF) to avoid passing PKD on to their children, Dad said, “Your egg had PKD but a whole lot of other good stuff.” During his trip, Dad told me, “You bring my world together.” He has done all he can to keep my world going and to keep it bright. He, too, has lived through so much because of PKD in our family. Dad has dedicated his life to working hard so my mom and I can live the happiest and healthiest lives possible. His unconditional love, unwavering support and how he has cared for me is admirable and appreciated beyond words. I know I’ve endured more than some do in a lifetime, but I’m lucky to be so loved by my father.

Saying bye at airport

Valen’s Dad saying goodbye at the airport

It is always hard to say bye to my Dad after a wonderful trip like this last one. We always want the fun to continue. Dad started to quote the saying, “All good things must come to an end.” We both did not like that, so we made up our own saying, which is, “All good things will continue.”

Today on your 60th birthday, Dad, I thank you with all of my heart for loving me with all of yours! Please join me in wishing my amazing Dad a happy birthday!

Who has been the steadfast support in your family?


  1. Laura

    Happy Birthday to you Valens Dad and thank you for bringing Valen into this world she is an inspiration for us all, Dad’s are so important in our life and carry that special bond that nobody else can. My parents are passed (my Mom from PKD) so they haven’t seen me and my sister going through our PKD journey and transplant. My husband is there for me every step of the way and was also my kidney donor in a paired exchange. Support is so very important in this journey of ours. Cheers to you for 14 years and here’s to many more healthy happy years.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Laura,
      Thank you very much for this sweet and supportive message! It is greatly appreciated. I’m so sorry your parents have passed and very happy to hear that your support comes from your husband who also saved your life! Cheers to many more healthy years with our transplants.

  2. Julia Adams

    Just sitting here with wet eyes relishing this beautiful, real testament to the strength and love your dad has always shown you. You two share a very special bond and you do an awesome job of appreciating each other and nurturing your relationship even though you live on different coasts! I would love to join you in wishing Bill a Happy 60th Birthday!!! Cheers to your best year yet, Bill!! I love his comment about your egg having a whole lot of other good stuff in addition to PKD…He’s absolutely right!! You know how much I love and admire all your awesomeness sweet friend!! 🙂
    As far as steadfast support in our family…we are also blessed with an amazing “stay by the hospital bed”, foot rub giving, hard working, live kidney donor Dad (Rick Adams) over here and we are very, very appreciative!! Love from the Adam’s Family Valen and Bill!

    • Valen Keefer

      Dearest Julia,
      I am always smiling when reading your sentiments. Thank you for wishing my dad a Happy Birthday! I appreciated you saying that we do an awesome job of nurturing our relationship with being on different coasts. As time passes, I continue to be even more grateful for dad’s love and mom’s too! It also gets harder each time saying bye at the airport.
      Rick’s dedication and support to your family reminds me a lot of my dad. We are lucky to be surrounded by so much love! xoxo

  3. Diana Bell

    My father was my ‘pillar’ when I young growing up with chronic kidney disease. He was my rock when times got tough. My Dad would just take one look at me and know exactly what I was feeling or thinking. Dad had my back those days when I was in the hospital and even at home. He made me laugh, he would always say ‘straighten up and fly right young lady’, ‘you can do this’, just hearing that gave me strength. His presence gave me strength. He was that knew everyone on the hospital floor I was on, and they knew him and enjoyed him. If I wanted something, Dad knew where to go get it, a carton of milk I wanted, he would even go to another floor to check out their fridge to see if they had any. He always got away with it. He was so supportive. My mother was always lovingly there, always worrying, Dad was the one who remained optimistic. Much needed optimism.

    Valen, so true, I am glad you too are also keeping all your experiences with your Mom and Dad close to your heart. They do make a world of difference when dealing with our chronic illness.

    • Valen Keefer

      I so enjoyed reading this. Your dad sounds fantastic and his qualities remind me so much of mine. It makes me happy to know you had such a strong support system. It really helps. I love the way you described your dad as your pillar. Thank you for sharing these heartfelt sentiments about your “rock.”

  4. sandee walling

    Valen’s dad you are such a blessing. The tribute to you is well deserved. It is no wonder that Valen is such a beautiful person. She had the best of teachers with you and her mother. I wish I could meet you both and tell you personally how much I love and respect your daughter.

    • Valen Keefer

      Dear Sandee,
      You are the sweetest and such a special part of my life! Thank you for your beautiful sentiments. My heart would be overflowing with joy if the three of you could meet! xoxo

  5. Cathy Perkins

    Once again a great tribute to those we hold so dear. Happy Birthday to Valen’s Dad.
    60 is awesome!!

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Cathy!
      Thanks for the birthday wishes to my dad! 60 sure is awesome! Glad you celebrated this milestone, too! XO


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