osodecanela: (Default)
[personal profile] osodecanela
It's blazingly hot here today. We're in the midst of a heat wave and it's now 102°. It is at least a dry heat; were we dealing with a humid heat, it would be more than stifling. I had wanted to get out and get some landscaping done, at the very least get the weeds knocked down, but the morning got away from me and it got just too damn hot to do that now. Maybe early evening will be bearable to do so.

I was listening to the moth radio hour last night as I drove home from Santa Rosa. Given that today is Father's Day, the stories they featured were all father related. The bulk revolved around new fatherhood, but the final installment was by a young man who as a graduate student abroad, lost his father suddenly. It focused on what he learned about his father during the morning period after his death. I nearly had to pull off the road.

I was physically present in the room with my father breathed his last, along with my mother, my sisters, and an an aunt & uncle. My father was dying of leukemia, then only a few years older than I am now. It was the culmination of a 13 year battle. Up until a few months prior, I had been in denial that my father would succumb to the disease. It had been a chronic leukemia & he'd had health crisis after health crisis for over a decade in and after surviving each of them, he'd gotten back up and went back to work. I'd been called home too many times, that he had had a "terminal" event and I would be needed to help with funeral arrangements, only to have him sitting up and reading the newspaper in his hospital bed upon my arrival. There are chronic leukemias where the patient survives 30 odd years with the illness. Most of my father's aunts and uncles made it well past 80. My grandfather didn't retire until 90. I honestly expected my father would do the same. However, 2 1/2 months prior to his death, the leukemia became acute.

At the end of June in 1995, Pop called and said, "my absolute neutrophil count is under 100." It was his way of telling me, "This is it." My response? "I will be there this weekend." It was Thursday afternoon. I caught the redeye the following night. I was able to arrange for cross coverage; 2 rent-a-docs, actually a married couple just out of their residency came in and worked my office for the duration. Nearly 3 months later. my father died on September 26. I returned home the beginning of October.

This time together left us time to talk and to simply be with one another. When Pop died, we had each said what we needed to say; we had no unfinished business with each other. A few days before he passed, I said to him not to try and hold on for us, that if it was his time to go, we would miss the hell out of him, but we would be OK. I said it, because it was something I thought he needed to hear. He was suffering. I was lying through my teeth. My inner child, the little boy within me, was not ready to say goodbye to daddy. He still isn't. 22 years later he is still hurting, & he is still grieving.

There was much I learned in the process of losing my father. Four days before his death, his calcium levels became dangerously high, not a rare side effect of his malignancy. The residents working at the hospital (an Ivy League medical school no less), responded by opening Pop's IV line wide, pumping him full of fluid, and chasing it with a diuretic. I was sitting at his bedside reading, when I noticed Pop hop out of bed for the third time in half an hour to take a leak. Now as he was not a diabetic, that made me look for the why & seeing that his IV line was wide open, I went to the nursing station to find out why. There the resident, not realizing he was talking to a fellow physician, informed me that if he didn't do something about my father's hypercalcemia he was going to die. Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees. I responded, "I'm sorry, but is treating his hypercalcemia going to cure his underlying leukemia, which is killing him at the moment? He is still continent and neither needs nor wants a catheter. What you are currently doing to him is not going to lengthen his life significantly and its decreasing the quality of what time he has left. Please, Stop it now."

The day prior to his death I bathed him. He was too weak to be able to do that for himself. I was my honor. I knew the end was close, and I knew that at the funeral home that there would be a ceremonial mikvah, to cleans his body one final time. I had the satisfaction of knowing that I had allowed him to feel clean while he was still able to feel it. I heard him say it. That I could do that for him still gives me some solace.

As a physician, I thought I understood death. With my father's passing, I realized I understood nothing. In my youth I struggled to be my own person, to individuate from my parents & see our differences. It was in losing him that I finally came to see how much of my father remains within me. I have his gregariousness, his sense of humor, and even the timber of his voice (though thank God I don't need a basket to carry a tune as he did). I have his flat feet and his lousy eyesight, as well as his insanely low cholesterol (likely the reason most of my his parents' generation made it into their 90s). I came to recognize just how generous he was with me emotionally, how much he was in my corner. I recognize that I had, no, have his unconditional love and that's what sustains me in enduring his loss.

To each of you reading this a happy Father's Day. And to you Pop, I love you. I wish I could hear you say it again.

Date: 2017-06-18 11:23 pm (UTC)
danthered: (Default)
From: [personal profile] danthered
My inner child, the little boy within me, was not ready to say goodbye to daddy. He still isn't. 22 years later he is still hurting, & he is still grieving.

Amen, oyez. Replace 22 by 17 and that's me.

There was much I learned in the process of losing my father.

That, too. His was my first direct loss; there had been distant relatives and friends-of-friends and that, but. What I learned—and yes, there was an enormous amount of it—I applied nine years later when dad's father died (his hand in mine, with lilacs from his garden under his nose and his favourite opera in headphones on his ears).

time to talk and to simply be with one another. When Pop died, we had each said what we needed to say; we had no unfinished business with each other.

I very much envy you that. We didn't have any of that; mother got in the way, sometimes deliberately. That was damaging but educational; I made sure to make time to talk and listen with grandpa (as it turned out, 14 months before he died).

But dad and I did watch a movie together on the TV in his hospital room. We saw "Yellow Submarine" and he told me one more time about going to see it in the theatre when it came out while he was in law school.

I came to recognize just how generous he was with me emotionally, how much he was in my corner.

I envy you this, too. Mine didn't fail me out of malice or indifference—he wasn't emotionally able to do better than he did, and he was in over his head with mother's craziness.

I had the satisfaction of knowing that I had allowed him to feel clean while he was still able to feel it.

I took my dad for his last walk. He wasn't walking any more; the NH lymphoma and attempted treatments for it had sapped his strength, but we got him into a wheelchair and I wheeled him around outside the hospital on a fine sunny day.

thank God I don't need a basket to carry a tune as he did

Mine could sing, but some shitferbrains "teacher" in high school told him he couldn't, so he scarcely ever did—at least not where anyone else might hear.

I'm glad to have got his storytelling ability, tho. And every now and then I hear his voice when I speak; this mostly makes me smile. Mostly.

And to you Pop, I love you. I wish I could hear you say it again.

Amen. Oyez.

Heartfelt hugs to you, W.
Edited Date: 2017-06-18 11:24 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-06-20 12:27 am (UTC)
danthered: (Default)
From: [personal profile] danthered
{{{Thanks, W}}}

As to 107°F: all hail Freon!

Date: 2017-06-20 04:29 pm (UTC)
geometrician: (Peace)
From: [personal profile] geometrician
It has been a gut-wrenching privilege to be present for the passing of so many people (my clinical specialty was lung cancer and started out in hematologic malignacies), including two dads. Your story about the resident is familiar; with my stepfather a surgical resident was trying to draw ABGs from a man who was actively dying. I said Son, I know you need your practice, but if you don't stop what you are doing I'm going to take that ABG needle and stab you through the heart with it. The day after I requested pain medications for this confused, elderly man who had an open, eight-inch surgical wound across his abdomen. The same resident turned his face up at me and snarled, Has he expressed pain to you? I fired him on the spot and to this day can't bring myself to think well of surgical residents. It wasn't only that one's fault; I just put his face to it.

I have learned never to think that I understand life or death. Every time I am with someone dying, I learn.

I have much of my father in me, as well, though to look at us side-by-side you would have thought I must have been adopted. I have some blemishes that he had, in the same places. I have some of his handwriting (I am fascinated that in my handwriting I see both my parents' as well as my sisters'). Oddly, I have his fingernails, but not his toenails.

I'm not sure what I get from saying kaddish at my two dads' yarzheitim, but they are both coming up, and it seems easier to take that time than to be with not having done it.

All the best to you in remembering.

Profile

osodecanela: (Default)
osodecanela

September 2017

S M T W T F S
     12
3 456789
10111213141516
1718192021 2223
24252627282930

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 22nd, 2017 01:25 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios