By Scott Bolzan
On December 17, 2008, my life changed forever.
In the blink of an eye, a simple slip-and-fall accident left me with permanent retrograde amnesia.
My life was deleted.
I just woke up in a hospital without any memories; without any recollection of the previous forty-six years of my life.
It’s now almost exactly three years later. And I’m often asked what I’ve learned. The list is so long, yet so short. The best answer I can give is that I do not know, what I do not know. It’s difficult to realize what is still missing in my bank of memories.
First and foremost I have learned to love again. My wife of twenty-seven years has taught me to be a loving, caring husband. She has spent countless hours teaching me kindness, providing the loving caress that seems to relieve my headaches—and taking on the daunting task of teaching me a life that seems only to be that of someone else. All the while wondering if I would fall in love with her again.
Even though we had been married for nearly twenty-five years, three years ago we were, again, meeting for the first time. Joan has never given up the idea that my memories will come back. I am not sure how love felt to me before the accident, but now it seems to be a huge part of why I choose to move forward. Without the awe-inspiring, unconditional love of my wife and daughter, I am not sure that I would still be here.
My second most valuable lesson this experience has taught—and continues to teach me—is how to be a father. It was so difficult to sit and watch my then sixteen-year-old daughter, Taylor take on the role of being a parent to the very father that had been raising her since birth. For 16 years Joan and I had done everything we could to ensure our children had the best possible life we could provide. After the accident, Taylor, still in high school, was forced to come to terms with the fact that the father she once knew was now a very different man. I had no idea how to act as a father, or how to interact with a sixteen-year-old—let alone how to provide the life lessons that a father is supposed to bestow upon his children.
Not only was Taylor facing life with a father that no longer knew her, but she was dealing with her brother’s severe drug addiction. He could not be counted upon to fill my shoes, or impart the advice, guidance, and support that her father no longer could. Taylor did not allow these difficult circumstances to prevent her from sharing with me the ways in which I used to father her before the accident. Telling me I was strict but fair, and had always shown love in our house. The love and patience that she has shown over the last three years makes me feel good to think that maybe I did do it right.
Anyone who has read our book “My Life, Deleted” will know that one of my greatest challenges during this experience has stemmed from a strained relationship with my son. Now twenty-two, Grant has been struggling with drug addiction since the age of sixteen. I don’t remember the young man with whom I spent countless nights practicing at the motocross track, traveling cross-country to races to perfect his skills. I don’t remember the endless hours of teaching him life lessons that I once knew. I have only photo albums and second-hand stories. I have only known Grant as a drug addict. And it is heartbreaking to see how he has manipulated both his mother and sister over the years. My unique perspective has made it somewhat easier to learn to call him out when he gets manipulative, knowing that it only serves to support his addictive behavior. It is my job as husband to Joan, and father to both Grant and Taylor, to not allow this to continue. I have a long road ahead of me, just to help myself become the new man that I want to become, and part of that is trusting that Grant will eventually become the man that he aims to be.
To my loving wife, Joan, and my beautiful daughter, Taylor, I love and thank you for allowing me to share this second chance at a new life with you both. And, to Grant, if you’re reading this, though it may not seem like it—I love you, too—and am always hoping the very best for you.
Former NFL player, Scott Bolzan, has learned to power through his adversities and remain hopeful and optimistic, ever reinventing himself into a better man than before. Scott has persevered through the loss of his first daughter, his son’s drug addiction, and career defeats. He was a pilot and owner/entrepreneur of a successful private aviation company. Scott and his wife, Joan Bolzan, have written the book My Life, Deleted, released October 2011.December 14, 2011