This has been one of the hardest weeks I have ever lived, and I have experienced some very very hard weeks.
This was already meant to be a somewhat challenging and exciting week (as opposed to terrifying) due to my travel into Chicago to attend my company's first all-hands in-person event since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, but a phone call sent things down a more challenging, and draining, direction than what might have been with an unexpected trip to Minnesota to tend to my father's end-of-life care
Blueberry Lemon Zest Waffles
The week began, as they so often do, with a delicious Waffle Day. Lou made us tasty blueberry waffles that had an impeccable tartness to sweetness ratio. Cleaning the waffle maker's plates later was a bit more effort than usual with all the burnt on sugars, but it was absolutely worth it. 🤤
Sunday also began with the terrible burden of knowledge that this would be the last week we'd have with Michael before his return to Iowa and also that it I would be traveling back to the Midwest for the first time in more than three years for work.
Moira had come as well to maximize our family time while Michael is still here. Tris had planned to visit but the terrible 1-boat WSF schedule between Bremerton and Seattle me that particularly difficult coupled with having had particularly overwhelming job the evening prior where she was meant to care for 2 children but apparently also found herself with their 4! cousins, which left her rather drained
In the morning I mused aloud about creating a new Minecraft Realms server for the family again and Michael played the devil-on-the-shoulder quite convincingly. We spent some time starting up a new world, as a family, which was a wonderful time. It's too bad that we had lost our previous world we'd built a few years back due to some username / billing / merger shenanigans with Mojang and Microsoft. I'm only mildly bitter about it given the amount of work we put into the intercontinental rail system alone 😔
I keep considering whether or not it would be worth it to self host, but golly if'n a Realms subscription ain't just easy.🤔
It's all a matter of time, I suppose
And it was a good time, and thankfully it set a good tone for the week as I was happily able to at least check in on our Realm from time to time throughout this week while embarked on my journey.
Air Travel is the Worst
I want to love air travel. I really do. I used to sort of enjoy it. I always felt so cool traveling as an unaccompanied minor in the 80's and 90's jetting back and forth between my parents in Minnesota and California every Summer. I didn't travel anywhere else by air, however, due to being what a lot of people refer as "a poor".
Perhaps it's baggage from the various traumas of my childhood associated with the trips between my parents in my youth.
Maybe it's the security theater of TSA where the processes differ from location to location and even within the same location on differing days.
I suppose it's possible that what bothers me is the greedflation all "security" creates by making you a captive in a place where you're treated, and herded about, like cattle.
I mean, at least they give you little snacks on the flights
Hiking to Chicago via Alaska
I felt it rather amusing that I essentially hiked to Chicago from Bremerton. It was a multi-modal hike, for sure, broken up by crossing Puget Sound by fast-ferry, a train ride from Seattle to SEATAC, air travel across the country and finally a van ride from O'Hare to my hotel.
It was a long hike wherein I was only really on foot for a fair few miles during the various stops for overpriced food, to the restroom, and, you know, generally to keep moving because sitting can be maddening.
I set out in Bremerton around 8am Pacific and didn't arrive at my hotel in Rosemont until about 9pm Central. The journey was filled with various air delays while we were packed the gate area like cattle with essentially two or three flights worth of folks all waiting together.
While boarding for our flight multiple issues were discovered resulting in delays though the pilot continued to assure us we'll be in the air "momentarily" (what is it with pilots and this word momentarily?). It was only something like 20-30 minutes added to the journey, but regardless, it was irritating. More so, I presume, for those who were attempting to make tight connections on from Chicago.
Upon arrival in Chicago we taxied to our gate and, somehow, we managed to collectively allow those folks heading on to connecting flights, those that hadn't already missed them anyway, out into the aisle to prepare to deplane first. It was a few minutes before the pilot explained that there was something wrong with the jet bridge.
It was another half hour or so before everyone was asked to go back to their seats so that we could taxi to the neighboring gate that had recently been cleared.
I've never really had this much trouble on an Alaska flight. Thankfully we eventually made it, however.
I met and saw a variety of people on my journey though the most interesting was a man who was returning from a job he described as: watching containers through a window siting in a chair on a boat going across the ocean. He was off until Thanksgiving and on his way home to Michigan (so near and yet so far). It sounded like it had been a long journey and he was looking forward to heading home to see his young child, who he had not yet met, and to buy a boat.
Can we please with this term?
This is the most absurd-
Whatever, fine, the term: turbulence is a old in terms of hydrodynamics, I don't understand how "rough air" even makes sense.
Tuesday - All Hands
The company event was held in Rosemont. My company, CARS, is headquartered in Chicago, and Rosemont makes sense as the best venue to bring in nearly 2,000 employees from across North America.
It was an aggressive agenda. The plan was to have folks fly into O'Hare in the morning to attend a company wide meeting in the afternoon to be followed by a party held in the entertainment district that evening. The following day we'd all get up for departmental break-out meetings and then most everyone would begin their travel home in the afternoon.
Given my distance to Chicago, I was not comfortable trying to leave my home at 3am to reach the airport in time for the meeting so I opted to fly in the day before, and I am glad that I did. As I mentioned, air travel is awful and the risks to an on-time arrival too great to make same-day events make sense to me. I'm sure the feedback to the org will suggest I'm not alone based on my informal polling. 😅
I began my Tuesday with a brisk hike around the hotel area in Rosemont, which is a horribly unfriendly place for pedestrians, a fact made worse by construction occurring on N River Rd and Balmoral that had parts of what little sidewalk existed there closed.
It was also hot. While I went out relatively early, I was drenched with sweat in short order and found it generally uncomfortable.
Thereafter, however, I found myself meeting folks as they made their way into town, chatting with people traveling and on their way looking for a bit of guidance from "eyes on the ground", and going through the event registration process and eating the delicious nacho bar they had set up for our lunch.
It was lovely to see people that I had not seen in years and meet for the first time, in person, many folks I've only known has heads in Zoom windows. I was regularly shocked by how tall / short folks were that I'd never met in person.
The meeting was dynamic and exciting as the company announced various forthcoming changes and updates all intended to drive outcomes, create synergies, and, ultimately, guide our stock price up. Of course I cannot speak more than generally about any of the information from that meeting, though I would imagine most of the content is common knowledge by now given the number of people in attendance, just based on the statistics around information exchange.
Near the end of the meeting I stepped away with a colleague whose travel had them exhausted and had not allowed them to check into their hotel, which was about half a mile away. I offered to guide them so that they could drop off their bags and get changed.
It was at this point that I noticed that I'd missed a number of calls from the hospital where my Father was meant to be discharged last week. He'd been admitted for an infection and I was given to understand that everything had been fairly routine.
More of Eph's Tragic Backstory
It's at this point that I feel I should take just a moment to quickly summarize the complex relationship I have with my father.
I'm sure you'd be forgiven for rolling your eyes at this now and thinking: "we all have daddy issues, Eph."
And that's true enough, I know. In my case, however, I think my issues might be above average in their tragedy and challenge.
I'll start by stating that I love my father.
My father, however, represents a great deal of historical trauma and pain.
From the direct physical, verbal, and emotional abuse to the indirect sexual abuse he caused, he is fully, and partially, responsible for the lion's share of my Adverse Childhood Experiences. He was an alcoholic and suffered from substance abuse disorder. He was diagnosed with Manic Depression before it was renamed Bipolar Disorder.
His physical abuse of me is what prompted my mom to leave him and move me across the country to Minnesota. This, as I understand it, was after years of direct abuse against her. This resulted in years of their co-parenting. I would rarely hear from him except around Christmas and my birthday, when he would send reasonably extravagant gifts. I would go out to spend Summers with him, which mostly meant that he worked and I was left at his home with whoever he'd been dating or married and their children. Those children were usually bullies and/or abusive. One pleasant summer I spent a most days in a really relatively nice home daycare run by a lovely Mexican woman whose daughter was very friendly to me. I'm not saying things were all bad.
His return to our lives in Minnesota in my teens was difficult. He had yet again lost his job due to mouthing off to someone and decided it was time to return to Minnesota. My parents tried for a short time to rekindle their relationship but it seems to have quickly become obvious that wouldn't work. They were cordial. My father eventually took the bedroom, my mother lived in the living room.
It went on like this until well after I moved out of the house to start my own life.
My mother provided of my child care, my father was around, but we were never really close. He was usually caught up in his interests.
To his credit he seemed to be trying do what was right. He focused on trying to get various technical certifications since he was clear computer technology was going to a better career trajectory than the boiler engineering degree he'd obtained before my birth in the 70's.
He had traded his addictions to booze and drugs to Alcoholics Anonymous and was very active with AlAnon and related programs.
Eventually, though, he managed to lose yet another job, his 4th or 5th since returning to Minnesota and that resulted this time in the loss of my parents' apartment.
I, being at this point a single father in my 20s, had limited space in my own apartment, and able to take on my mother, who still helped with my children's care while I was working and trying to better myself.
My father became homeless. This was in the mid-2000s.
I struggled some to keep in touch with him. He always had some grand scheme. While he would often tell me about some business, or schooling, or venture he was working on, and how he was off to stay with the next person willing to help him out, from the outside it seemed that mostly he was just constantly wearing out his welcome with his dwindling friend group.
Eventually, he would wind up running afoul of local law enforcement and he would wind up serving time for failure to register as a sex offender after moving.
His health deteriorated.
He would send me hard to understand emails about going off to a school to continue his education, or starting some kind of rehab business with someone (whose name could be googled to learn he was a grifter), or similar sorts of things. Once he sent me an itinerary for an "MI5" meeting. He had once told me that he was being recruited by MI5 for some reason, though I never understood why British military intelligence would be interested in a middle-aged boiler engineer from Minnesota. He'd had a fascination with British Intelligence for years related mostly with Ian Fleming's James Bond character.
His health deteriorated, physical and mental, but he would not accept help, not from me, anyway.
For many years I would mostly know where he was when I got calls from HCMC that he was there and I was listed as his next of kin.
Several times I went there to see him because I was told he was near death.
He would bounce back and often be angry I didn't bring him cigarettes.
I would get continue to get the occasional phone calls, emails, and messages. The messages would be hard to follow, cryptic.
For more than 5 years, however, he's been in the same group home in Lakeville. It's the longest he's been since becoming homeless and it was clear, despite still getting emails and messages about his impending moves to Colorado or Washington for some school program he was planning to attend, that he was going to be here for at least some time to come.
In the last year he was diagnosed with colon cancer, which was added to his various nerve and neurological issues, emphysema, and dementia.
About a week before my trip I was informed that my father had been admitted to the local hospital due to some kind of infection, his caretaker at the group home suspected it was a UTI. As I mentioned, I was given to understand that this was largely routine scenario, and in more than one conversation I was told that he'd be returned to his group home in short order.
Apparently circumstances deteriorated.
The Phone Call
After seeing all the phone calls that I'd gotten from the hospital and the messages from my father's caretaker telling me that he'd been through a lot and that the hospital really needed to get in touch with me, I began the process of trying to determine to whom I was meant to speak.
It took several phone calls and being bounced around a bit before I finally spoke to a nurse at least familiar with his case.
Her words were dire:
I needed to speak with the doctor. My father's dementia was advanced, he had been thus far disoriented, his infection was spreading and he had an active bleed that could not be repaired. He had received multiple transfusions to stabilize his continually plummeting hemoglobin. She said I needed to speak with the doctor, that it would be a difficult conversation, but it would be best if I could plan to come to the hospital, soon.
I was gutted
This was not what I was expecting, to be honest. While my father's health had been deteriorating, he is only 70 years old and last I'd heard his cancer prognosis was years.
Meanwhile, I'd long ago mourned the loss of my father.
More than once. In more than one context.
I did so as a child, and I did so repeatedly over the years when unable to reach him or when speaking to him and realizing that he was no longer present, mentally, in our decade.
But this was different
I struggled, but I recognized that it was time that I head back to Minnesota instead of attending the rest of my corporate event so that I could see to my father's end-of-life care.
Most of the rest of my Tuesday was reaching out to the appropriate people to make arrangements for some time off and let my family know about the change in plans.
I would need to book travel to Minnesota
Wednesday - Not the Return I'd Imagined
In the morning I spoke with his doctor who informed me of the medical facts. She was extremely frank as she was actively working on a critical patient and waiting for a call from a surgeon.
It was somewhat confusing conversation as she kept telling me that he could be back in the group home within the next day or two. I would come to understand her meaning soon enough, that he could be discharged to die on my say-so.
After an expensive last minute flight, and an even more expensive car rental, I found myself back in Minnesota.
I had been considering a trip back to Minnesota, a state I called home for most of my life, later in the Fall. Of course now I'm not sure so about making that work any more.
It's been more than three years since I set foot in the state and honestly I wasn't eager to do so again, though I had wanted to connect with at least some of the folks we had left behind.
After a relatively easy flight, thankfully, and a typically challenging experience at the car rental desk, I found myself crying as I drove west on 494 toward 35W to on my way to Burnsville
I had tried to book a stay at the nearest hotel to my father's hospital after a conversation with my father's caretaker at the group home while waiting for my flight at the airport. The cheapest option to do so was an advertised rate on Google Maps through Super.com that, upon initial investigation, appeared to be a legitimate enough entity.
When I arrived at my hotel, however, I was informed of two things: the first was that they would not honor the booking as it was incomplete and driven by a received fax directing them to use credit card on file with a name of which they were not aware and second, through the conversation, was that they had a better compassionate rate for my stay than what I was given through super.com
I set out to resolve the issue.
The long story short was that I was unable to easily find any phone numbers and resorted to using their online chat functionality, which was not particularly helpful. Eventually the chat representative told me I would need to contact support. When I explained that I thought I was doing so, they explained that I would need to contact phone support. After another exchange that representative finally gave me two phone numbers to try.
The first rep was determined to stick to the script, which my situation made challenging. To her credit she continually apologized for having to follow the script and ask the questions they were making here ask. Eventually, however, I was escalated, and the after another 40 minutes of back and forth I ultimately secured a refund
I was finally free to book directly with the hotel
I made the trip to the local Target for a few needed items due to the extension of my trip. I was thankful that I'd chosen at the last minute to bring my rolling luggage as I'd originally planned, due to the shortness of my trip, to use only my backpack and that would have been a disaster given the circumstances
Thursday - Getting Outside
I began my Thursday with a light breakfast. I was to meet with staff at the hospital about my father's care at 2pm and that gave me some time to myself.
It had been a bit of a strange week trying to function in Central time. For me, 2 pm would be noon. I spoke with a friend about getting dinner in the evening around 6pm, which to me is like the early bird special.
I figured, though, since I had some time to kill and the full heat of the day was hours away, that I would do a little #ThursdayHike in the morning. I chuckled to myself thinking about an experience in my young when a native person was presenting to my class and explained that in the heat of the summer his people would do most of their work during the early hours of the morning before the sun reached its peak in the sky.
I chose to got to the Rudy Kraemer Nature Preserve to walk around its trails a few times. It's an open space in the city with almost no tree cover, a marshy area, and a few short trails.
It was a fine enough place to spend some time in nature, such as it is in Minnesota, and given the value of "hiking meditation" in my mental health toolbox, is was extremely helpful to me to spend some time outside.
I was able to see a variety of birds and grasshoppers. There was a beautiful crane, ducklings following their mother around, cat tails, and other flora and fauna. It was hot, but not entirely unpleasant, at least until it got too warm for me.
The grasshoppers, in particular, made me nostalgic for those summers long gone.
After my hike I went back to my hotel room and practiced some mindfulness seeking calm and resolve. I had some success and, honestly, felt as prepared as possible to face the afternoon.
For simplicity I got Taco Bell for lunch.
Meeting at 2pm
When I arrived at the hospital I sought information from the desk who sent me up to the nursing station on my father's floor. Upon explaining I was to meet with staff at 2pm they directed me to my father's room and I'll admit to breaking down crying.
I'd expected that I would first speak to staff to get an understanding of my father's condition and then go to see him, and suddenly that understanding was flipped.
A lovely nurse's assistant was walking by and offered me a hug, which helped. She brought me down to his room and guided me into is room.
Face to Face
So I did go in to see him, it was very difficult. I tried to engage with him but he seemed mostly confused. I asked him if he knew where he was and he said he did, then said it was HCMC. It seemed he was orientated enough to know he was in a hospital and likely he was simply guessing as to which. He couldn't tell me why he was there.
I asked if he knew who I was.
"Yes!" he exclaimed.
I asked him, "Who am I?"
"I don't know," he admitted
I told him that I was his son.
He seemed to initially accept that at first saying simply: "oh"
Then I stood with him for a bit. He struggled to speak, seeming to have some difficulty in speaking. It sounded like he might be trying to say "how", but after several tries to get the word out he said "tired", then said "sleep".
I asked if he wanted me to leave and he said exclaimed again "yes!"
I did as requested and cried in the hall for a few minutes.
I heard the TV turn on, or perhaps up, I don't recall if it was on when I entered the room since it was behind me and I was so focused on my dad, I do recall hearing what I thought was the quiet audio of a the radio.
The Housekeeper Recommends Strength and Prayer
While in the hall, after obtaining some tissues from the nurses station, the nurses I'd seen there initially no missing but a new nurse at the station able to help me out.
I found myself crouching outside his room and waiting at that point for whoever was supposed to be meeting me. I felt out of place and uncomfortable. I cried a bit.
There was a housekeeper who approached and told me to be strong, and to pray.
Then she asked if she could service my father's room.
I said I was sure that she could.
The Family Waiting Room
Eventually, I made my way to the Family Waiting room, a small alcove with a few chairs, a table, a built-in desk with a computer on it, and a variety of magazines and other reading materials strewn about. A woman was shushing and admonishing a small child that was clearly over tired. She was rocking her and trying to get her to fall to sleep.
I waited while that young child fussed and cried and the woman told her to "shut up" and "knock it off" repeatedly. The child, a toddler, was fussy but clearly wanted to sleep.
Eventually, I'm not exactly sure how much later or how many times I cried, but eventually I was engaged by Ann, a palliative care nurse.
Ann was extremely frank with me. She told me that my father's condition was that he was bleeding out. She explained that the hospital's job at this point was to keep him alive because he could not make decisions for himself due to his dementia. She explained that he had been receiving transfusions, which I'd understood to have numbered at least 5 as of the day before, to keep him alive and that, essentially, they could continue doing so for some time to come but that if they stopped transfusing him he would pass within days.
I spoke with Ann for some time. I explained some of my relationship with my father, I explained he we had become estranged. I was, perhaps, too transparent, as is my way.
She explained that during one of the transfusions he actively fought against the procedure and they had to tie him down so that he could be transfused.
I explained that I had believed, due to his having told me, that he had made the necessary end-of-life plans including burial. Of course my father has said a great many things that have turned out not to have been true.
He was found on the street before arriving at the group home. It wasn't like he was toting a record box, so who knows what arrangements he's actually made and where?
I know that he had told me and and his caretaker both that he did not want to be kept alive. That he was ready to go when the time came. I recalled his speaking about that when I was younger as well.
My Dad Wasn't All Bad
The man that I knew as my father wasn't all bad.
I know that he loved me. In his way, at least, he loved and cared for me.
I know that he meant well
I have a lot of strong memories of my father, and many of them are pretty bad- that's kind of how memories work, right, the bad ones take to hold firmest?
But there are good memories. There's the memories of going the the BWCA with his brother, my Uncle Mike. I recall my dad giving me a pocket knife. I remember being outside, fishing, camping, and having a lovely time in the quiet of nature. I haven't seen or heard from his brother in about 3 decades, since his parent's 50th Wedding Anniversary, if I recall correctly.
I remember bonding with him on some occasions on some various topics. I remember him being there. Trying to engage on a few occasions.
As I've gotten older and my children have grown I've come to find that I feel like I really can
I try to learn from that.
The Social Worker
My conversation with Ann sent her off to change various orders and codes in my father's chart in pursuit of shifting away from lifesaving to providing comfort.
It was time to engage hospice care.
It was time to send him home to the familiarity of his room at the group home. To the place where he had care.
While Ann was away, my father's hospital social worker came to talk about next steps and asked my preference in choosing a hospice service.
I asked her how I might form such a preference and she explained that some folks come in knowing a service with which they would like the patient to be admitted.
I explained to her that I was going to have to defer to her experience in this case as I was woefully ignorant on the topic and felt a Google search at his juncture might not help much.
Somehow we seemed to come to a plan.
She was pretty confident that, being a Thursday but not too late in the day, they would be able to have my father discharged by the very next day and back at his group home.
She rushed off then with calls to make.
One More Time Seeing My Father
At that point I made my way back to my father's room.
It was a slightly different seen as by now he'd been moved from his chair back to the bed.
He was struggling some to breath and resting with his eyes closed curled up against the speaker in his bed.
When I came in he looked up briefly before resuming his resting state, no look of recognition.
I got his attention and explained that he would soon be returning to his group home. He seemed pleased at this, or perhaps I saw what I wanted to see.
Soon thereafter Ann appeared with a letter I'd requested as part of the documentation I wanted to obtain for my forthcoming leave request.
She ushered me out of the room and accompanied me down the elevator and toward the hospital's exit.
Crying in my Car
I managed to make it all the way back to the rental car before I really broke down.
I sobbed for a few minutes, feeling overwhelmed
Then I took a moment to communicate with my love, Lou, and worked on grounding myself there in the car.
I noted the time that the entire experience was only around and hour and a half
I was struck by how strange it felt to have spent such a short period of time there, not having signed anything, having never been asked for identification. The entire experience felt surreal.
I looked back on the entire interaction as though watching a scene on a television medical drama like ER, or House. I recall having watched scenes like it, anyway
And then... ?
The rest of my day was spent working through my grief and connecting with important people in my life
It was an emotional afternoon that led to an emotional evening.
I was lucky enough to be able to spend the evening with some friends. It felt good to spend some time with folks I'd not seen in years.
Eventually, however, I found myself packing up my room and preparing to leave the next day for an overprice last minute flight home.
Friday - Homecoming
The trip home was, by pretty much all measures, easy and uneventful.
I spoke with the hospice care group and signed some paperwork on my father's behalf noting his dementia and my relationship to him as his son. I used docusign.
I had cherry crepes at IHOP with an fried egg (over hard) and the crispy top of some hashbrowns. It was delicious and, I hoped, enough calories to get me home if I had a few boosts along the way.
MSP is a fine enough airport. Dropping off the rental car was easy enough, the TSA line took about 12 minutes, and the terminal is like an overpriced shopping mall.
It was all fine.
I found an out of the way corner near my gate and read the last few chapters of I May Be Wrong, a beautiful book I finished as my plane took off a few minutes ahead of schedule.
While on the flight I "watched" Guy Ritchie's The Covenant and found it to be a fine enough film. I knew it wouldn't be Lock, Stock or Snatch, but I was curious what the creator of those movies would do with war film. It was fairly entertaining and a compelling enough watch, though I was left wondering if I'd have preferred watching Hypnotic, given hindsight.
Then I watched the first half of No Country for Old Men because it's such an amazing movie and I really just wanted to sit there and not really do anything.
It's still an excellent film and I see different things every time.
It felt oddly normal despite the abnormality
Soon enough, we landed, also early.
I was able to hug my family: Lou, Ozz, Michael were all there at the airport for me with Ollie ❤️
I cried one last time in public and then we headed home
Michael's 'Last Meal' and the Spider-Verse
We found Moira there waiting when we arrived home. I was able to explain to her what was happening with her grandfather. I'd not felt it right to communicate this news with her until I was able to do it in person and knew what was happening.
Because Michael would return to Iowa the next day (today, as a matter of fact), we let him choose his final dinner option and he, of course, wanted the delicious Pad Thai he loves so much and can't get in Des Moines.
We watched the Across the Spider-Verse one more time as a family.
It was a perfectly normal Friday night at home, and I was so happy to be there with my family.
Saturday - The Day After
Today has been fine enough. Things feel reasonably normal.
I'm exhausted, it has been a draining week
Lou's exhausted, it's has been a draining week- though she did spend a chunk of the day working in the garden anyway.
I wound up running up to the hardware store for a new hose and hose caddy.
It was a normal day where we I experienced the grief of my father's impending demise and the grief of no longer having our son here as he made his way back to Iowa.
Alone, Never Alone
I am so thankful to have had Lou with me throughout this agonizing process. I felt utterly alone yet never fully alone. She encouraged me, repeatedly reminding me that I can do this, that this too shall pass, that I can do anything. She urged my strength, grounded me, helped me to keep moving forward.
I'm happy to have had some support, even when it was hundreds or thousands of miles away, on which I could lean.
I was glad to have a friend (in a colleague) who was willing to offer me a really valuable hug when I needed one most when it turned out that one leg of our unique journeys crossed paths in Minnesota.
I was glad to have friends in Minnesota willing to talk with me, spend time with me, help distract and ground me.
I am at peace with the decisions I have made.
I am saddened that I am on the verge of losing my father again. He's only 70 years old- it's too soon to lose a parent, he didn't even survive to retirement age. He fell out of the step with the system and eventually was cast aside
I have definitely wondered through a variety of what if ...? scenarios. I thought about how things might have been different, about what might have happened, if I could have helped him. If I could have been there for him sooner, or if the system wasn't simply built to chew people up and spit them out.
I came to terms with the loss of my father many years ago, and more than once.
I am saddened that I wasn't fully aware of the situation, that he was in a position where he had to be restrained against wanting to be transfused.
I have never really had a dad. Even when he was around he was absent. There has always been a sort of rift between us that seemed impossible to heal. Abuse will do that to a relationship.
My father was never a well man. I have fought like hell my whole life to avoid becoming like him, and in so doing likely became more like him and I would ever care to admit. Still, I feel I'm still doing things better. I'm more self-aware of my own neurodiversity. I try to be open, honest, and transparent with my kids and, really, all the people around me.
I have a support system.
I have built a solid toolbox to draw from, I practice a great deal of self-care, and I am very self-aware (perhaps too self-aware) of my own mental health.
It's hard not to get caught up in the past.
My father certainly plays a bit of a villain in my story, and in turn, I know that I am the villain in a variety of other people's stories.
It's hard not to reflect on the historical trauma- though that trauma is more a topic for another post, it's there, always.
I must smile at the memories, at the pain, at the thoughts of the past, and thank them, and then try to let them go.
No matter how many times they return
And that's okay.
I know that I have done my best, and that's all that I can do
Meanwhile, it's been an eternity since Waffle Day. I have journeyed thousand of miles and done what no child should ever have to do but far too many must
The Inevitable Conclusion
It's possible that by the time I publish this complete post my father will be dead. (It's also possible he'll somehow outlive me)
Eventually, I will be dead as well.
So will we all
It is inevitable-
change will take us all.
It is incumbent upon us all to remember and face our impending demise. Nothing is certain, nothing is guaranteed. You may expect another 50 years on this Earth but a slip and fall could end your life tomorrow.
Wake up each day the Klingon way by saying to yourself: "Today is a good day to die" - if for some reason you don't believe that, then set about making things right so that you can say it honestly.
Whoever needs to hear your apology or forgiveness, make it happen. Whatever you feel is important be done before you pass, work toward it diligently.
You only get one shot at this life and it's maddeningly short regardless of when you pass- you'll never have enough time to do it all, so make certain you do what you can, do your best, and live without regrets.