Father’s Day Q&A with Kevin Bistline

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Name: Kevin C. Bistline, OD
Kids: 3 (daughters)
State: Pennsylvania
Company: Bistline Vision Care (located inside LensCrafters)

What does being a Dad mean to you?
Everything. It is, in a way, the hardest thing I do every day. Not because every bit of it is technically harder than being a doctor or a business owner because its results matter so much more. And that is truly its beauty as well. Every scary or bad thing is more worrisome, but all the good moments are better than I had ever imagined possible. Every bit of love, effort, and energy that you put in is never wasted. I just want to love them really well in a genuine way. I want it to be in a way that it will pour back out of them and lift up the young and old and people of every walk of life and background – as only a child can. Being a dad is taking on the responsibility of trying to do whatever it takes to raise my daughters in a way that allows them to be able to be that for themselves and the people they meet along the way. In a sense, fatherhood amplifies everything. Life is harder, but matters more than ever before.

They are my light every day. They are my reason to push forward even in the hardest moments.
They remind me to slow down, stop and look at them, smile with them and often learn from them.

I was always meant to be a father. I am sure of that now. I need them as much as they need me.
For me, it is simply about loving your children as much or more than any other thing/person in all the world and then adjusting your heart, mind, and actions accordingly.

From your OneSight clinic experience, which patient tugged at your father-heart-strings the most?
I must mention at least 2 individuals. One a father and one a mother.

The first was a man I met in a trailer set up to do eye exams outside of a red cross “tent city” in New Jersey post hurricane Sandy. This was 2012. I had not done that much with OneSight yet, but I was all in with the experience and the mission. It was an emergency clinic. An email went out to see if anyone at all could get to the area of need and offer support as quickly as possible. So it fell together and I happened to read the email, feel pulled to go, had a rare day off. Ironically in a Father’s Day peace, I had no responsibilities as a parent yet. So I was able to pick up and go. I met a man that day that has stuck in my mind and heart to this day and helped catapult me into a place where OneSight would always be a part of my life.

This man was a big guy and held himself proud. He stood out. Barely fitting in the door of the clinic trailer and the little exam chair, he clearly felt a bit uncomfortable being there and asking for help. I began talking to the man – this father – and peeling back the onion of all that was going on for him. It wasn’t long before he was crying and I shortly followed suit. See I grew up in a home where I felt loved, but crying as a guy just wasn’t really a thing that was ok. Not yet a father, I felt every bit of this man’s heart and love and fight for his girls. As you can tell it stuck with me deeply. He had lost both his home and the business he worked for in a single day. He lost almost everything he owned including, in this case, his glasses. He described in vivid raw detail the absolute terror of the moment his home filled with water and how he carried both his daughters on his shoulders. How he tried to also help guide his much smaller wife out in the dark as his home began to float around them. As he tried to describe his fear at one of his daughters slipping off his shoulders into the deepening water, his fear was palpable. As I write this and as you read this look around your home and think of how much you went through to afford your home, to afford the things in it, to keep it up, and about all the things in it that mean something extra to you. He didn’t, even for a second, try to save any of it. He just wanted his girls out of that house and safe. That, then and now, spoke to me of the power and meaning of being a father. I will never forget that day. He said the glasses would help him find a new job and rebuild his life.

The second is a mother that I met at a OneSight clinic in the Amazon region in Brazil. She was at the clinic on the banks of the river with her 5 children. She was in her late 20’s. If I remember correctly, her children ranged from about 1.5 to 10 years old. She had waited hours in the heat and humidity. When refracted, she had a prescription of -6.00 D in one eye and something similar in her other eye. She couldn’t see. It was going to be her first pair of glasses.

Now at this point in my life, everything was starting to feel impossible. Just keep up with the twins and the new baby, the business, OneSight clinics, and everything else. But after I looked at this mother’s refraction, I was in awe of her. I remembered seeing her with her littlest ones in the mighty Amazon, the bugs, the snakes – just all of it. I realized in that moment she was overcoming all of it and couldn’t even see. Her strength and her resilience were astounding. How did she care for them? How did she keep them safe? She just did. And she found a way because it mattered so much, they mattered so much. She changed me that day. She changed my heart, my perspective and my understanding of what is possible and necessary for me to be for my children to give them what they needed and deserved – like she was to do for hers.

Best fatherhood advice you’ve received?
You’re going to mess some things up. Probably a lot of things. Some small and some big. So what you do will never make you the perfect dad in your kids’ eyes or in your own heart. But loving them well always sticks. Make sure they know how loved they are every moment of every day. Love them hard and openly and emotionally so they can see it, hear it and feel it. If you do that well then the moments you mess up (like when you embarrass them, say the wrong thing, forget something important or yell a little too loud will be forgotten and forgiven) because they’ll already know where they stand in your heart.

From a father’s perspective, what do you hope for the future for the patients you serve?
Whether it be for my OneSight patients or the patients in my office, I want them to have the joy I have when I am with my girls. I want them to feel purpose and love like that. For those that are parents, I hope that something I can do for them helps them be able to be a better dad in a way that is important to them and to see the amazing things their own kids will do a little clearer. I hope the vision care and glasses that I provide help them to learn easier, do a job better, feel more comfortable, more safe or more confident. And for kids of all ages and backgrounds and dots on the map (from our offices outside Philadelphia to those in some far away places like the Native American children from the Dakotas, a refugee camp in Jordan or the banks of the Amazon river in Brazil), I wish to be an example to them of someone who cares about them authentically. I want them to feel loved and secure. I want them to be protected and raised up by the people in their lives and this world the way a good father should for his children. I will keep trying to be part of that for each of my patients and for my own children whenever possible and that we can all support each other toward that common goal.