• 2016/6/20

Julio Iglesias and His Father

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My father , Julio Sr., was a prominent gynecologist in Madrid and the most disciplined man I have ever known. To stay trim and healthy, he exercised two hours a day by walking, swimming and playing tennis. His work ethic and high standards extended to his dreams for my brother, Carlos, and me, so by the time I was a teenager, I thought I'd be either an athlete or a lawyer. I loved soccer and became a junior goalie for Spain's top pro team, Real Madrid. I was on a great team and was also in law school -- just one class away from finishing my degree and going on to practice law. Then everything changed. It was September 1963 and the day before I turned 20 years old.

I was driving with some friends in a village outside Madrid, on a little service road, when I was in a terrible accident. My car rolled over, and my spinal cord was damaged. My nerves were compressed, affecting my lower body. I couldn't walk. I had trouble with my hands. My father quit his profession for a year -- quit everything -- to take care of me.

He conferred constantly with the doctors. He talked to them about my back surgery, a difficult 12-hour operation to try to relieve the pressure on my spinal cord, and about my medications and my physical therapy. He overruled the doctors on some things, and he was right. He insisted I be taken off radium, for example, which they were giving me when they thought I had developed a malignancy. In those days, they didn't have the diagnostic tools we have now, or the medications. It turned out I did not have a malignancy , and the radium could have severely burned my cord.

When I got out of the hospital after three months, my father and my mother, Rosario, set up a little hospital room in our home. How many people have a hospital room in their home? My father filled it with all the equipment I needed.

It took a long, long time for me to fully recover. I was in a great deal of pain during this time. Four months after my accident, I could finally move my toes. I had to learn how to walk again, with everyone supporting me and helping me. With each step I took, I was sweating like crazy. My soccer-playing days were over for sure. But without my father's good care of me ego one mega, I would be in a wheelchair today.

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