I get that I overstay my welcome on the internet. People want quick sound bites, things to instantly hate or adore. So I apologize ad infinitum for thinking, and also for simply blurting out what I’m thinking about without thinking critically about those thoughts. My fuel is emotion which isn’t always conducive to reason, and there’s the fact that I really like to read what I’ve written. I’ll stroke my own ego even if no one else will. Wait…that sounds bad.
My family did a great job today suppressing our emotions. Dad, released from the hospital after angioplasty for two blocked arteries, and with an appointment in a month to do the same for two other blocked arteries (out of six, that’s four), sat with us outside on the patio and in the yard I grew up in. I can tell you the exact spot my friend Chris and I horribly snared a feral rabbit, and roughly the place – because I don’t remember exactly – where I barfed after a Zehr’s work party ended up at my parent’s place while they were away on holiday. There was a girl there that I worked with, Renee I think, that I was hitting on, and by hitting on I mean sitting beside without eye contact or conversation. I didn’t think she could resist my silence, but she did.
But back to my main point, the family minus my brother – this is usual but not an insult – sat around the table cracking jokes and taking shots at one another, the jovial shots a family that is emotionally retarded take. We fed ourselves with the facts of the surgery and post-op requirements, the handful of drugs that are now required multiple times a day, the changing of bandages, some bits about work, and school. We even managed to touch on more weighty things like family history – you don’t have to dig deep to find a Nazi uniform in my lineage – and the health of relatives, even the health of the plants in the yard. Through this, only joking and unspoken love. Unspoken love.
But with all the distractions we could dig up, there was this big son of a bitch elephant staring at us from just off the patio. I never made eye contact with him, and neither did the others. Out of the corner of my eye I watched him smirk. He would know I was looking and wink, licking his lips and mouthing the words, “This is serious you idiot.” And as serious as this has been, our avoidance has been horribly and painfully strong. My father sat there through what barely amounted to conversation, smiling when he could. Things going on behind his tired eyes.
These are the times that we need to embrace our loved ones and tell them that they are loved ones. My father doesn’t want to talk about it, that much is obvious. His condition is severe, an eighty-one year old man with blockages to his sustaining muscle that modern medicine can only do so much about. He’s afraid, as any sane person would be, so our conversation dances around on the facts and misses the human import. And the rest of us follow suit; we don’t want to talk about it, we kid ourselves into thinking this is just another visit from the prodigal son and just another warm, summer evening in southern Ontario. Things have been this way for the better part of a century, and we force ourselves to bask in that history. But it will end, and we cry ourselves to sleep alone, knowing this will end.
I’m just going to write this now and leave it there: My father has a death sentence. He has seen and tasted his mortality, and all the words I write will never help me understand what this is like. I’ve lost a few people I have been close with, but I have never lost a parent. At this point I am only beginning to understand that pain. But moreover I’m afraid for him and what he must be going through. Does he stare at my mother, his wife of fifty plus years, and worry about what she’ll do without him? Is he happy with what he’s done with his life? Does he have peace?
I want him to have peace. I want him to know how loved I felt growing up and how he never let me down, even when I felt let down. I need him to know – and my mother – how indelibly I carry what they are and have been throughout my days. They created and made me, and soon they will cycle through the earth and stop being what I knew and loved. Did I do enough?
I don’t know how long I’ll be here in Ontario, but I have to make them understand that I understand our bond.
I need to speak with them. I need to actually speak.
Make sure you do the same.