I’m writing this at about 10am, so the week isn’t over. But let’s consider this an expression of my optimistic spirit that I’m wrapping up this week now.
… where to start?
Well, my dad’s dying. What’s that? Did that get your attention? It got mine. After spending a relaxing day with Vicky, doing a bit of shopping, playing a bit of Wii, I received a call from my brother, Richard, Sunday evening to tell me how dad was fading fast and could die. Not good.
After months of having my employer tell me, “If you need to take time off to take care of your dad, we’ll totally understand,” I did. I woke up at 4am Monday morning, hopped in my car, and started driving. Traffic moved easily at that hour of the morning and I bought a big Monster to wake me up – and it woke me the fuck up! I’m just lucky I have an economical car because it took me to the Arizona border – and cheaper gas! – on just over half a tank. It was still pretty early, traffic was light, and I made good time heading into Arizona. As I entered Phoenix, though, Blanche wasn’t returning my calls. I couldn’t remember the freeway exit and not only was I picturing myself driving to Florida before realizing I’d gone too far, I couldn’t help but wonder what was going on with my dad. Was he in the hospital? Was he dead? I called Vicky for the freeway exit – she’d stayed home to play her new Zelda game – and finally got ahold of Blanche when I tried their home phone instead of their cell. The cell phone was all that had died, thankfully.
But when I walked into their home, I could see how sick my dad was. He’d lost a great deal of weight, which I’d heard about but you just don’t understand something like that until you see it firsthand, and he was confined to a wheelchair. I’m not going to go into too many details but he was clearly failing. He’d made arrangements in the event of his death. He was ready.
And it hit me like a wet fish stuffed with concrete. I was startled. I was hurt. I was very confused.
Then, when he was going to sleep early in the afternoon, Blanche suggested I might want to say Goodbye at that time… just in case…
How do you say Goodbye to your father? Especially one who left you when you were five, with whom no relationship existed until you were in your twenties? Strangely, it’s not even something you think about. You don’t say a lot. I did what I tend to do: I made a little joke. Then, I held him and I felt like someone was cutting out my guts.
But I was handling myself pretty well, considering. Richard flew into town with his son, Hayden, and – thank god – brought smokes. I had my first cig in a while and loved it. Then, my dad astonished us by waking up and Richard and his son got to see him. See, the thing is, none of dad’s doctor’s could find anything that could be, well, killing him. (And, yes, Richard and I were hating said doctors.)
Then, Richard and Blanche and I spent the evening playing with Hayden and catching up. (Richard and I hadn’t seen each other in a year!) By 12:30am, Tuesday morning, we turned in… and I awoke at 3am, which was 4am California time… and I was back on the road. By the time I pulled up in front of my house Tuesday afternoon, I was a zombie.
Worse, the next day at work I was a zombie who cried a lot. That wasn’t part of the plan! And I hadn’t really slept since Friday night! (Vicky gave me a Monster energy drink Saturday night… blame her…) No sleep Wednesday night made me even more of a zombie on Thursday… but at least I wasn’t crying so much.
The worst was yet to come, however. Wednesday night, my dad had to be taken to the ER and things looked bleak. So, after work on Thursday, I went to tell my mom. See, the thing is, I overheard my dad tell Blanche back on Monday how he wanted to apologize to my mom for… well, for how things had turned out. He’d been carrying that regret with him for about 37 years. I hadn’t known he was capable of that but now I understand that I get my profound sense of guilt from both parents. Swell. But with my dad in the hospital, looking as though he was going to die, he’d never get to tell her. So, I went to tell her… almost… she wasn’t home. Dammit! It was 3:15 and I had to pee! Oh well… I’d wait. I could hold it. It was soon 4… then, 4:15… then, 5:00. My bladder hated me so much it was fundraising for the Republicans. Then, finally, she got home and I told her what I’d been waiting so long to say, “Mom! I need to use your bathroom!”
When I told her about my dad, I was deathly afraid she’d start crying. If she cried, I’d cry – and then, there’d be no stopping it! But she didn’t cry. She held herself together very well. We got through it, together.
And I headed home, worried because I hadn’t heard from Blanche all day.
A voicemail at home, however, cleared that all up. Blanche had called me on the home phone and told me that the doctors might have found out what was making my dad so sick. It’s treatable and he may recover.
Great news! Except now I had to call my mom and say, “Oh… by the way…”
I was going to write about this much sooner but I couldn’t help wonder, “Sure, but what if he gets better? That makes for a stupid story, about a son who says goodbye to his father only to find out he really didn’t need to.” That very well may be the case but, you know what?, that’s okay. I’m okay with that. That’s how life works. Now, I just hope he gets better.