Dad’s Story Part 4
The next few days were uneventful…but eventful. They were full of waiting for Dad to heal from surgery so he could go home and we could make decisions about treatment. But until then, we all took turns driving down to the hospital on those hot August days to keep him company. Most of the time, we just made small talk and watched Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. One afternoon, after church, I swung by to say hello. My brother, Mike, was there. We put baby lotion on my dads super dry feet. I hadn’t been that physically close to my dad since I was a youngster. That day, I felt as if he were the child, and I the parent. It was a tender moment. He looked up at me, smiled and said I looked nice. “What, Dad?” I questioned. “You look nice in that outfit,” he replied. I heard him the first time. I just wanted to hear him say it again. See his eyes sparkle. He always made me feel beautiful. It was the last time I was with my dad while he was not inebriated by sedatives and pain killers.
Hot summer days and evenings all seemed to melt together that week. I got a call from Debbie shortly after this telling me that my dad had a horribly rough night. She wasn’t sure which came first; the pain and pressure from the fluid filling his abdomen, his inability to breathe normally, or panic. Whatever it was made it impossible for my dad to breathe. He was gasping for air and in full panic attack. Debbie had to make a quick decision then and there…alone. She I believe made the right one, to have my dad intubated. This is when a tube is pushed down his throat and oxygen is forced in so that he gets what he needs to survive. Without it, he would have suffocated. He would have suffered tremendously. Afterwards, they had to rush him to emergency surgery to repair the damage the fluid caused as it filled up his body putting so much pressure on the sutures that he started to tear and leak. I knew nothing of this until Debbie called after surgery was over and she knew that he was alright. Well, as alright as he would ever be again. He was put in ICU to be monitored a bit more closely.
We were back to square one waiting for him to heal from surgery #2 before he could go home.
But he never did.
Have you ever tried to untangle a bunch of cords from behind the television set? You know, they’re all dusty and twisted….a giant frustrating mess of TV, DVD, Xbox,Wii, and cable cords That’s what my memories are like of this time. Thank goodness sometimes the wires aren’t all the same color and can, after patience and time, be followed back to their source. That’s what I’m doing now….unraveling, disentangling, sorting out, and untying the memories. But sometimes, as with the mess of filthy electrical cords, I just want to walk away. Deal with it another time. Burry my head in the sand.
Many days I just cannot handle the memories. I cry a lot and think of what it would be like to have my dad around right now…at this time in my life. To be dreadfully honest…sometimes I’m relieved he’s not here to see what my personal world has turned into. I’m glad he isn’t seeing me struggle through a time that is even tougher than those days we were losing him. But as fast as these thoughts roll through my head, they are gone in a flash and I can hear his voice calling out from a dark corner in my brain telling me he loves me and it will all be alright. I feel him wrap his arms around me, and smile, patting my head as he makes this funny little noise he made when I was upset. I can’t even spell how it sounds. I suppose the sound is similar to the hum/whine you make when you see a fragile little puppy crash into a wall….
I miss him. I want him here. I want to believe, like I always did, that it will be alright.
There are good days too. Its been over three years now and I still, for just a breath of time, sometimes think that I must call Dad and tell him some bit of news I have. You know when something fabulous or horrific happens you have that one person you immediately HAVE to call? That was my dad. When Michael Jackson died…for a reason I am still not sure of…I called my dad. He was shoe shopping. He said for the rest of the afternoon he would moonwalk in MJ’s honor. When I was deciding if I should chuck the mini-van for a ’65 Mustang he was #1 on my list of who to run this “tough” decision past. A few years ago, doctors suspected I may have lymphoma or leukemia; it was my dad who I raced to. And this time it was alright. It’s bittersweet to feel this urge to call him then have to be reminded that I cannot. It reminds me that I miss him. It reminds me how special he was. It reminds me just how lucky I was.
As I wind down this part…four is it? I am already thinking ahead to the next five or eight segments. Coming up….it’s the meat and potatoes, the essence, the substance….the heart of this story. A follower of mine asked me why (as I wrote in Egg Salad Sandwiches) I thought my dad’s death was beautiful. That part’s….as many dads say…just around the corner.