Sunday, June 15, 2008

As promised

Two posts today, starting with background so that anyone who has wondered what the deal is with my dad has an idea. Later I will post excerpts from my childhood that demonstrate the perfectness of my dad.

But this part first.

For those unaware, here is a chronological run-down of my dad's medical issues over the last two years.

1) have bad knee
2) get knee replacement
3) get leukemia
4) get chemo
5) get staff infection
6) have staff infection "bond" to the titanium in the knee
7) lose short-lived chemo produced leukemia remission
8) get sent home to die
9) refuse to die and just keep being not dead for eight months
10) have all your teeth removed because the chemo destroyed them
11) find out the permanent knee infection is threatening to become systemic and that the leg may have to be amputated to save his life.
12) schedule knee surgery
13) have surgery canceled due to blood work indicating the presence of leukemia
14) get sent home to die - again (this bring us to three weeks ago)
15) feel good enough while dying to re-carpet his boat and build a bench for the lower deck while supposedly dying

This brings us to today, Father's Day, 2008. In a little while I will call my dad and say "Happy Father's Day," and we'll have a chat about what I am doing and what is happening around his house - and neither of us will mention the leukemia - which we now refer to as his "immune disorder" - if we refer to it at all - and we'll toss around the idea of me coming down to see him sometime before the Africa trip, but neither of us will commit.


Why wouldn't I run off down to South Carolina and throw my arms around my dad's knees and scream "No No No No! You must never leave me!!! NOOOOOOO!"

Isn't that what everyone does when the most beloved person on planet earth is dying?

In my case, no. I have reasons for not doing it, some of which I will now try to explain.

1) we were all royally punked the last time the scientists said my dad would die. We spent over six months doing absolutely nothing while waiting for the terrible phone call. When we were not waiting for the terrible phone call, we were running off to airports and buying plane tickets to see him for short visits during which we figuratively threw our arms around his knees and screamed "No No No No No! You must never leave me! NOOOOO." And you know what? It sucked and in the end we were just getting punked. Royally.

2) however royally we were getting punked, the six months of terrorism did have its usefulness; we got a lot of stuff said that needed saying. We made sure our dad "got" that he was so popular with all of us that he could start a cult and we would all be followers. Which is the same way of saying... my family is a little bit culty and my dad is its cherished leader. (If you ask my dad about this, he just says, "Well I think you are important, too.")

3) our whole family is pissed off. We are not pissed off at the scientists, and we are not pissed off at God, at least not anymore (in my case). We are pissed off at the cancer. It is annoying and mean and we are out of patience. The way we live now is sort of like people live when their block is a major target for car bombers: we know we are in grave danger every second of every day, but what the hell, might as well go to the end of the block and get a cup of coffee. If it happens, well, shit. If it doesn't, then we had coffee! And some laughs! And we are all intact! But we are all pretty well done with engaging in negotiations with the cancer. We hate it and we are bored with it and we don't even want to talk about it. We will play frisbee in the street and secretly give it the finger, but that's where the relationship ends.

4) Am I making any sense at all?

5) I love my dad. My dad loves me. We both know this. If I run off to SC - even just to hang out and drink beer on the deck - it really has to be a straightforward, social visit. Anything other than that would be engaging in a relationship with the cancer, rather than with my dad. And I have broken up with the cancer. I do not like it anymore.

6) I am not saying I won't run off to SC and have a few beers with my dad, but if I do, it won't be a hysterical nutshow. See above.

7) And so we are sticking to plan. The plan is for all of us - Buzz, Leta, Liam, my sister Naz and her husband Bling, and me - to go to SC for a two week visit as originally planned, in two months. If the whole block is busted up by then, well, dammit. If not, we will spend two weeks with my dad, as planned.

Here is a picture of my dad two months ago. He is sitting on the deck at my brother's house, drawing a diagram of the deck he wants to build for them once he is done with his own deck. He fully expects to execute this plan and will not deviate from that plan unless he finds himself not alive.

In comments, tell me something you like about your own dad - or tell me how handsome mine is. I'll post again later.


LizB said...

Your Dad is definitely a handsome man; I think you get your good looks from him. I like his way of coping; it seems like he just goes on with his life, taking the gift of each day as it comes. Tell him I said have a happy day.

Finn said...

Your dad and mine have a lot in common. Mine has been hospitalized several times since February with heart problems. He nearly died about three times. But he didn't. His doctor thinks he is from Mars.

To me, both of these men are a testament to the notion that the mind plays a huge part in sustaining and healing the body.

Happy Father's Day to Nina's Dad, that handsome devil.

Avitable said...

My dad loves my mom and shows it in many ways, which is impressive because he is not someone who lets his feelings out very often.

Annie said...

My dad passed away 10 years ago of cancer, he believed the doctors when they told him he would be dead in a year. My father was not a very good father, but I loved him just the same. Your father is my hero. He is doing what I hope I would do in his situation and I think you are all doing the right thing. You can't give into the fear. We are all going to die and most of us will be surprised by it :-). happy Father's day to your dad :-).

Rick(y) said...

I like that even though my dad has fucked up a lot in his life, he has tried to learn and change as his life continues.

I like your dad's imperturbable attitude toward his life.

clickmom said...

My dad is dying of cancer too. He has prostate cancer. It's in his bones. My mom is dying too. She has peritoneal mesothelioma. I am going to try to handle their cancers with the same grace and acceptance you have shown.

P said...

Handsome and indestructible and builds his own decks - that's pretty amazing.

My dad is gentle and loyal and I can always count on him.

Anonymous said...

Boy howdy! That is one good looking miracle right there...

Kate P said...

Wow, look at him, he's so focused! I've got an ADD-type dad but he tells funny stories and is a great church musician.

Catherine said...

Your dad is a knockout <3 I hope he had a marvelous Father's Day!

Em said...

He certainly looks pretty handsome.

Maggie said...

I have a similar cultish worship of my dad, so I'm not even sure when to begin. a few weeks ago, the doorknob on my back porch door (primary entrance to my house for friends and relations) froze up. Wouldn't turn, couldn't get in or out. Very awkward for the neighbors to have to start using the font door; seemed so formal and unfriendly.

I called Dad, he came right over. In 20 minutes he had if fixed better and more smoothly-turning than new.

I immediately burst into tears, thinking that someday he'll be gone, and won't be able to stop over any time to make my life perfect.

Sizzle said...

"Anything other than that would be engaging in a relationship with the cancer, rather than with my dad. And I have broken up with the cancer. I do not like it anymore."

That made a lot of sense to me. My father had lung cancer. The thing with me and my dad is, while we loved each other, we hadn't been close in a long time. There's a lot I miss about having a dad and some things are specific to my dad. But mostly it just makes me sad - the whole dad thing, the whole dying thing.

Your dad sounds like an awesome human being.