Sturm und drang. So throw me a donut.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A little something

My father passed away on March 3rd, twenty six days before my 44th birthday. We were not close and we had not had a meaningful conversation in at least a decade. All sorts of stupid things got in the way and now all those things are completely meaningless. Now I have a mother who is trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life since she no  longer has someone to take care of and share a home with. Will she finally reach out to me and salvage something of our relationship?

I should have demanded that my parents put aside all the junk and just be parents and grandparents. Regardless of what happened in the past, I was willing to just let things be and at least pretend things were okay enough to have a relationship with me, my husband and our children.

I think by saying that it was nothing personal to myself is a lie. I think by saying get over it is useless. And I think continuing to feel like I, as an adult, should just let the past be the past is both mature and insensitive...to myself.

I once had a professor in a writing class tell me that my mother was emotionally abusive. No one has ever said that to me. Is it true? That's the real question now that I'm left with the parent around whom all the mess of my feelings revolve.

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In June of 2012, my father went to his doctor because of a sharp and unrelenting pain in his back. My father had a large aortic aneurysm that just happened to be pressing on a bundle of nerves. Surgery was scheduled for that afternoon and the aneurysm was fixed. However, my father caught a strep infection in the hospital. Before the infections was detected and treated, it attacked his heart and lungs and caused congestive heart failure. Well, that's the short explanation; throw in 30 years of smoking, too. This was a chain of horrible events that came out of nowhere. It would have been much kinder to just die of a burst aneurysm.

My husband and I went to visit my father in the hospital. It had been over ten years since I'd seen my parents, and it was awful, painful and awkward. What I saw was a stranger who sounded like my father but didn't look like the man I remembered. When I saw him make familiar gestures and use familiar phrases, it was both comforting and unreal. What I saw was a skeleton and a ghost of what my father had been. He had lost so much weight and looked so fragile and afraid in that hospital bed that it was hard for me to connect that physical person with my memories of my father.

Congestive heart failure is a terrible thing to endure. Slowly drowning is an unfathomably cruel fate. My father's death took nine months. Sorting out my regrets, my memories, and where I go from here will take much longer.

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