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In appreciation of love, life and fatherhood

After wining tough fight for his survival, Valencia dad ‘thankful to be here’

Posted: June 19, 2010 8:54 p.m.
Updated: June 20, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Eleven-year-old Jessica Howard draws while at the kitchen table of her family’s Valencia home next to a picture of herself, her twin sister, Victoria, and her father, Tim, at a father-daughter school dance.

 

 

For Valencia resident Tim Howard, there’s nothing like being a dad.

A dad, in fact, to twin 11-year-old girls.

Howard, 49, a self-proclaimed ham, makes a point of joining daughter Victoria in theater — as bittersweet as it may be.

And he was ringside at daughter Jessica’s horse show last year, although getting around in the rough terrain was a challenge.

About two and a half years ago, doctors at UCLA Medical Center didn’t give Tim Howard much of a chance to live.

The former assistant principal was hospitalized with a stroke. Then he contracted a staph infection and went into septic shock — the worse his doctors had ever seen, they told him.

Howard lost both legs in the battle for survival.

Now he and his wife are devising ways to take the girls camping.

“We are not going to let this destroy our family,” said Mary Howard, Tim’s wife of 21 years.

“He has shown so much courage,” she said. “He is an awesome father, he really is.”

Since Howard returned home after eight months of hospitalization, the family has been busy making their two-story house more wheelchair accessible.

Howard now has a “man cave” on the first floor of the dwelling. It features a KISS poster and an American flag — and plenty of art work drawn by Jessica and Victoria.

“He has a sense of humor that puts the girls at ease,” Mary Howard said.

Recently, Victoria and Jessica took their dad to a North Park Elementary School father-daughter dance, the girls sporting matching polka-dot dresses and Dad hat.

“Rather than us crying about it, we make jokes about it,” Victoria said of her father’s situation.

The girls’ prevailing attitude is: “Daddy is a hero for living through what he lived through,” Mary Howard said.

Tim Howard chafes at some of the limitations he now faces — “The first question I had was, ‘How can I dance at my daughters’ wedding?’” he recalled upon surviving his ordeal.

But the family is finding ways to do what they want to do. Today marks a special celebration as the Howards were due to pick up a new custom van Saturday with more room for Tim’s chair. They hope the van will allow them to take longer day trips as a family — and maybe even go camping.

“I’m just thankful to be here,” Tim Howard said, “because for a long time, I wasn’t.”

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