Dying Of Laughter….and, Unfortunately, Some Stupid Stuff Too

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Dad’s Story Part 1

This entry has been rolling around in my head for some time now…about 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days actually. I’m doing this mostly for myself.  Writing is my therapy.  It releases my anxiety.  It soothes me.  It heals me.  I desperately need that.  I’ve figured out this little bit of goodness,writing, helps helps me through all of the bad stuff I have to deal with in life.. Parts of this tale may be boring, yet necessary, to fully understand how it all came together. Actually, I have a feeling it will be more of a series than just an entry.  It’s long. It has many tangents. But its ours.   This is a story of love, hope, and death.  As I write, and I’m sure, as some of you read, we will laugh and we will cry. And I have figured out, there is nothing wrong with that.  My dad’s death was, and still is, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with, but also the most beautiful.  How neat is that???!?

***

August 16, 2009 I lost my dad.

But what I found…man o man….

*****

One time, many years ago, before the cancer, I answered a phone call from Dad.  “What are you doin’?” he asked. “Writing your eulogy,” I replied.

Yeah, we were like that.

Funny-sick.

He giggled and told me how mean and hilarious I was.  Gee…Dad…where ever would I get that trait from???

{{He’d say my mom.}}

Another time my dad gave me a jingle before he climbed up on his roof in the pouring rain to check the pilot light on the heater.  He was calling to let me know that if he didn’t call back in 20 min to send someone over to check if he was ok.  What the HELLLLL Dad!??! No, you cannot go on the roof in the rain with your lame ass back! What are you thinking, man??? He said not to worry; he was wearing one regular shoe and one golf spike to grip the roof so he wouldn’t slip.

Then he hung up.

Twenty minutes later he called to say he was alive and fine but had a heck of a time with the heater. It did nearly blow up when he tried to light the pilot light.  “DAD! WHAT IF YOU HAD FALLEN! YOU COULD HAVE BEEN HURT.  I COULD JUST SEE YOU LAYING IN THE HOSPITAL JUST COMING OUT OF A DRUG INDUCED  COMA…SURROUNDED BY ME, DEB, AND HONEY GRANDMA!! YOU’D HAVE TO DEAL WITH ALL OF US LADIES!!”

You know what the guy said????

“And you know what my first words would have been, Janelle? Why….why…. didn’t you just let me DIE…hahahahahahahahaahahaha!!!!”

We both laughed and laughed…it was awesome.  I miss that laugh and sick sense of humor.

*****

And so, he set the stage of his real death.  It was a tragedy, a comedy, and an indie film all rolled into one.  It makes for quite a story. I’ve told it many times.  Everyone, even those who don’t know him, is affected by it I think.  I love telling it. But it’s been a while.  And this time I want it in writing.

*****

My dad had a bad back.  A really bad back.  Like, his back was the suckiest back I have ever heard of.  He had numerous procedures, surgeries, and treatments to help him be comfortable.  He never was.  He was miserable the last 10 years of his life because of it.  Physically as well as emotionally.  A once hyper, happy, kookie guy turned into a gentle, melancholy…well, still kookie guy.  He was always gentle and sometimes melancholy, but more so those final five years or so.  He carried a baggie of pain pills with him in his front shirt pocket with a little tiny notebook to record what he took and when.  He was very thorough.  Even with drugs.

Spring of 2009 was rough for my dad.  The last time I saw him happy and healthy was right after I got my {awesome} ’65 Mustang. In May he came over to inspect my new toy.  Boy was he tickled.  He pulled a little flashlight out of the air and examined the engine, kicked the tires, making sure his girl was safe.  (There is more to this part of the story, but I will save that for later.)

June, brought Father’s Day.  I didn’t see my dad that last year.  He was feeling really bad and wasn’t up for any type of activity that day.  I could hear the pain in his voice over the phone.  He also canceled the plans we had made earlier to keep my boys for a long weekend in July so I could get outta Dodge for a few days.

By the end of July he was absolutely miserable.  I cannot even begin to describe the tone of his voice, but it hurt me deep inside when he spoke.  It still does when I think about it.  He called me one day, before my family was to leave for nearly a week, leaving me alone in the house for what I call “the most wonderful time of the year”.  He told me he was having problems.  Big problems.  Lots of excruciating pain, fluid filling up his abdomen.  This was not his back that was causing such distress.  It was something bigger he said to me.  He, my step mom, Debbie, and his doctor suspected it to be something to do with his liver.  The decade of pain meds was finally taking it’s toll. He asked me to do three things.

#1. Don’t tell anyone. Not a soul. (He was already planning on speaking to my siblings.)

#2. Don’t look it up on the internet.  It would just freak me out.

#3 Don’t worry.  He didn’t know anything for certain.

Ironically, this was the same advice he gave me just a year before during my own cancer scare.  He was a consistent man.

No problem, Dad.  My lips are sealed. No internet searches and no worrying.  Things were going to get checked out and it was all going to be fine.  And honestly, I didn’t worry…then.  That hit me a couple of days later.

******

A few days after told me about his suspected illness, my dad went in to the doctor and had a procedure done to drain the fluid in his abdomen. He called afterwards and sounded like a million bucks.  I was so happy to hear him back to his silly self.  I could hear him smiling as we hung up the phone.  Then I called my friend who’s a nurse because I couldn’t stand not talking about it anymore. After speaking with her, honestly I wasn’t too relieved, but I also wasn’t worried.  I knew it was something. But my dad said he would get it taken care of.  I didn’t hesitate to believe him.

A couple of days later he wasn’t feeling as great.  It was the weekend so he just took it easy.  That Sunday I went to church.   I was alone because my family was still up in the mountains livin’ like little mountain men.  I don’t recall what scripture the sermon was on, but I do remember an illustration the pastor used.  He was talking about a cup of coffee…the steam floats up into the air and swirls around, then suddenly it evaporates.  He said that’s how life its…there you are floating around and before you know it, something right there in front of you is gone.  My mind immediately went to my dad.  I tried to push the thought away.  But I knew, deep in my soul, that what was happening with him was not good.  And still, I tried to shove my worries aside.  It was my 36th birthday and for the very first time in my life, I felt grown up.

Later that afternoon, Debbie called to wish me a happy birthday.  Dad was in too much pain to even talk on the phone.  I knew he didn’t want me to hear him like that.  I told her not to hesitate about taking him to the ER.

My heart started to break that day.

The next morning I awoke to a call that she indeed brought my dad into the ER and at the moment he was having exploratory surgery. When I arrived at the hospital an hour later, much of my family was already there.  Everyone looked at me as I walked up to Debbie and gave her a hug.  Their faces told me it was horrible news. Debbie sat me down and started to explain why he needed the surgery and what the doctors tried to do. It was an exploratory surgery, they suspected a bowel obstruction.  The obstruction turned out to be cancer.

Everywhere.

When Deb first began explaining what had happened the last 12 hours I thought she was going to tell me he had died.

But no, he didn’t.  He just had cancer.

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