Saturday, October 11, 2008
The anniversaries don't get easier...
though I had always thought they would!
The memories are never far from the surface...the months of being sick while he fooled around with the family doctor that had delivered my sister, myself, and my Mom; the one who had never told a patient they had cancer (including my Grandma who had 3 colostomies and went through radiation each time before there wasn't anything left to reconnect) since the first one he told killed himself in his parking lot. Being told we'll try this test; a week later that it hadn't shown anything, so next week we'll try something else- this went on for over two months!
The diagnosis of pancreatic cancer when he finally went to someone else that only took a day; the news that in something that didn't have a high survival rate even then that this had gone on much too long; probably less than 6 months, no more than a year...
The man who had never taken a sick day from work in 35 years finally having to take a terminal leave; getting to take a few chemo treatments that left him so weak that the man who could pick up a hindquarter or foreleg of beef to butcher it was left at the mercy of strangers when he had a flat tire and a trucker stopped to help him.
The final 5 months spent in a hospital that began with him in ICU trying to get my pocketknife out of my pocket while I stood there alone with him; when I asked "why" he wrote on his little "Mickey Mouse" slate (because he was on a ventilator and couldn't speak) "End this bullshit!". My guilt at telling him I couldn't do that because my Mom would have filed charges on me.
Mom telling me it was all my fault he got the cancer because he was so stressed out worrying about me. Her telling everyone else in the family that he wouldn't give up and die because he knew how badly I'd fuck up my life if he wasn't around.
Dad telling me the last time he was off the ventilator that if there was anything in his garage I wanted I should probably go get it and take it home, because he wasn't sure what was going to happen after he died; then asking my wife and I to look after Mom when he was gone.
The doctors asking my sister and I to please talk to her and let them disconnect some of the pumps and things that were prolonging his agony; her telling us that we didn't have enough faith, that he was strong and he was going to get better.
Watching for 5 months as he went from 260 to 80 pounds...his veins so "shot" that the IV pumps would balloon his arm and leg on one side 'til the moved them to the other. The cancer eating his spine until his arms moved uncontrollably and his legs not at all.
Watching his eyes change as his brothers told stories from when they were boys, about him and each other, when everyone knew he was in a coma and that he couldn't hear anything.
The final hours watching his heart slide down out of his chest because there was nothing left to hold it, until his aorta burst.
My mother trying to legally change the conditions of his will after he died and threatening to take me to court if I didn't go along...
Finding out when she wanted the carpet in their bedroom pulled up that while he was sick she had moved into my sister's old bedroom and that the purple place on the gold carpet that bothered her was where the chemo had made him throw up and "he hadn't cleaned it up"...
Sometimes it's so hard to remember the happy times...the good times...