17 August 2007

My Father's Life

People keep asking how my father is doing.

I have no idea how to answer that. I sometimes just say "He is dying." That is the blunt truth, baring a miracle, he will die sometime soon.

Soon is relative though. Soon could be sometime in the next two months, or soon could be sometime in the next year. The uncertainty could get to be overwhelming.

But I do not want to hurt the kind people that ask. So, instead, I usually tell them about his strength... About his peace with all of this... He has said on more than one occasion, "I've had a good life..." and "I don't want people coming over and sitting there crying. I want to have good times with them now. They can cry later, when I'm gone..." I also tell people about wanting to be with him more often than I can be.

He wants all of us to have good memories - good memories from before he became so ill, and good memories of this time too. The first is easy - he has been a great father. The second, well, I am trying... but it is so hard.

I so resent the fact that circumstances have me 10 hours away from him. I would love to be able to check in with him more often. I would love to be able to stop by in the evening, bringing him a chocolate malt (his current food craving), or watch old BBC comedies with him.

I would like to be able to help my mother more too. I know she needs more breaks than she is getting. For so many years he was on the road most of the time - when they first married he worked as an over-the-road truck driver and was gone a great deal; then he worked at Imported Motors, in Indianapolis, driving up there on Monday morning and home on Friday evening; after that he worked for Fiat Roosevelt, with the same sort of schedule; then after a brief interlude working for one of the Fiat dealers, he returned to trucking; and finally, after retiring 10 years ago, he started working as a "drug-runner" for a pharmaceutical company, making deliveries to nursing homes and hospitals over a large area of the state.

During the time when he was away she was used to running things her way. When he was home, he could have it his way. This worked so well for both these strong individuals. Now things are so different for them. The changes have come so suddenly - until the cancer diagnosis last month, he was still working full-time.

Next time Abelisto and I drive down I want to send my mother off with one or two of my daughters, to spend the day in Bloomington or Terre Haute, shopping, eating out, relaxing and having fun together. Abelisto and I will stay with my father so that she can do this without worry or feeling guilty.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your father sounds like a wonderful person and a very good father. You are fortunate to have him in your life.

I know it seems hard to think of good times coming at a time like this, but from experience some of the most honest and endearing moments I was able to spend with my father occured when I sat with him during his illness. Sometimes just a look into his eyes let me know how very much he loved me and hated to leave us. I remember taking a cool washrag to wipe his face, how much he appreciated it because he just didn't have the energy anymore.

At first I felt uneasy, this man who was everything to me, so strong, rendered helpless. So much love passed between us during that time. Bittersweet moments.

Giving your mother time is a good idea and will help her keep her strength up. Your father will appreciate time alone with you too.

I realize the distance between you must be hard.

Thinking of you,
XO Maddy.