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My Dad Had a Stroke

My Dad Had a Stroke

It’s hard to see parents age, it’s even harder to see them get sick and become dependent on others. It’s hard not only for their children but also for them seeing they are no longer in the supporting role.

My father in his 90s suffered from a stroke last summer, causing paralysis on his right side. He’s been admitted for long-term care in Privamed hospital in Pilsen, Czech Republic.

He couldn’t speak, eat on his own, walk, he needed diapers. What was the most difficult for him, he was lucid and aware of all the sudden changes, he was aware of the fact he was no longer in control.

Pilsen, Czech Republic-August 2019. I rushed to the hospital as soon as I found that my dad suffered a stroke. He recognized me, but couldn’t speak. He tried so hard to tell me something, but it was impossible to understand him. His sad eyes made my heart cry.
Pilsen, Czech Republic-September 2019. The first month after a stroke, he slept a lot. I came before lunch to make sure he ate. And stay till dinner most of the time and watch him sleep in between.
Pilsen, Czech Republic-October 2019. When he got better and could eat by himself, I skipped lunches. I started visiting him in the late afternoons lasting till the early evening.
Pilsen, Czech Republic-October 2019. The hospital does not have a physiotherapist. So I assumed that role. We also did puzzles together that were typically meant for children. It wasn’t easy for him, but he was fighting to regain control over his body.
We also used educational toys for toddlers with geometric shapes. He had to pick up with his right hand a piece of block and place it correctly on board.
We also read a syllabus for primary school kids. He can read simple words. This is a huge success from the beginning, when I remember how he couldn’t speak one word.
Pilsen, Czech Republic-October 2019. Dad is learning his signature. Hospital wants him to sign documents, so he has to know how to sign his name.
Pilsen, Czech Republic-November 2019. I take my dad out as much as weather permits. I borrow a wheelchair, dress him up, and we go out for fresh air.
Pilsen, Czech Republic-November 2019. Even though my father is more optimistic than pessimistic, he tells me that he can’t take it anymore and that he does not want to live. For me to understand him, he shows me what he means.
Pilsen, Czech Republic-December 2019. To make my dad happier, I brought him a teddy bear. They became friends right away.
Pilsen, Czech Republic-December 2019. When the weather is bad and we can’t go out, when my dad does not feel up to some exercises, I lie down next to him and I read him a book. If I stop, he elbows me softly in the ribs to get me to continue reading.
Pilsen, Czech Republic-December 2019. I felt relief when I saw my father’s arm outstretched and holding on to maintain circulation in his arm. I took this as a gesture that he would not give up.

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Iva Zimova

Iva Zimova, Czech and Canadian born in 1956

. I first developed my photographic eye in Montreal, where I studied photography at Dawson College. But Dawson Collage teaches commercial photography, and in any case I found that I was more comfortable wandering the streets with my camera than being locked up in a studio.

 Montreal’s streets were not enough for me, however, so I started to travel to different places. I became resolved to document the lives of people who are persecuted or neglected. In 1998, during the war in Kosovo, I encountered the Czech NGO, People in Need, and since then I have contributed to their efforts with my work. It’s very important for me to be involved in the environment that I am photographing. To be accepted by the people I photograph and to become one of them is a part of what I do. This takes time, but it allows me to be a privileged witness of social occasions and rituals that would otherwise be off-limits: births, baptisms, spiritual ceremonies, weddings and funerals. I always carry my cameras (one digital and one film camera) with me in my backpack. The pack becomes a part of my body and if I don't have it on me, I feel like I'm missing something. To have my cameras with me at all times gives me the opportunity to photograph anything that I find interesting, at anytime. I am represented by Panos Pictures.”


  1. Iva Jan, first of all I am so sorry about your Dad, but what someone can do this life. So grateful you share the photos and story behind each photo!! You are simply gorgeous daughter for your Dad, I am sure he must be proud of you!!!

  2. Iva, eien sehr schöne ergreifende Foto-Geschichte über deinen Vater. Eine echte Iva-Doku, eben

  3. We’ve met today in Zbuzany and you told me about your father. Together with your photos It impressed me how you take care of him and how you love him. It seems you love all people you meet. Good luck in your rich life and best wishes to your father.

  4. Oh Iva, your photo essay about your dad is staggering! It evoked the roller coaster of feelings connected to my own history with my parents, and the awareness that life is short and health, so precious. You are such a smart and loving daughter. Your dad is fortunate to have you by his side, challenging him, encouraging him and keeping him company. A blessing. Hope to see you one day soon. Take care,
    Susie Wileman, one of your fans in Montreal

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