Ruminations

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Going to borrow a page from Natalie over at Petroglyph Paradox and mull over the implications of Father’s Day a little bit. Though I’m a day late (and a dollar short), as the old saying goes.

My dad was an odd fellow. Odd in all sorts of ways. My sister who is mother to a couple boys with as yet undiagnosed problems has been forced to read up on the markers for autism. My sister has said that had my father been born in a different time, he probably would have been tapped as a high functioning autistic.

He was smart as hell and obsessive about numbers. He worked hard but had a nasty temper. I chalk up the temper to being of fiery Irish and German descendentcy. His full-blooded Irish mother is the only person I ever knew who could yell at HIM. And boy did she.

He was bitterly type A. He put in a hell of a career at Sandia Labs, was an engineer to the core, and probably was a better man that I ever gave him credit for.

I could talk a lot about all the bad things he did to me personally, or the bad things I saw him do to my siblings and mother. But at the end of the day, there wasn’t any sort of physical abuse, no. I don’t want to mislead. He never laid a hand on us. He just had a cruel mind and would say hateful things in a fit of fury. And words can hurt too.

So I won’t talk about the fact that he was a bitterly mean and insecure man who lashed out at his family because he could.

I also won’t raise him up as the model of a father, then join hands and sing the praises of dad.

What’s it’s taken me most of my life to learn is that he was an incredibly imperfect person. Fraught with fears about boogeymen around every corner and demands for us to be better, he actually did try very hard to run his family.

Out of three kids, we all turned out with our fair share of “issues”, but we also turned out to be three decent people, all contributing members of society. In the case of both of my siblings, marriages and kids of their own. So I guess to raise three more or less well adjusted kids, he must have done a few things right, in the end.

And so I’ll give him credit for that.

On this Father’s Day, some two years after his passing, I didn’t exactly miss him. He never liked celebrations of holidays and such. I was sort of relieved that I didn’t have to find some meaningless gift and card to send. It’s nice to be “off the hook”. Instead of mourning my Dad, I spent the day with my partner’s Dad who is chock full of his own set of insecurities and missteps, but is a hell of a good man.

And it doesn’t pass my notice that he reminds me in many ways of my own father.

But the one thing that the father of my love remembered to do that my own forgot was to love his child unconditionally.

I’ll take that as the lesson for Father’s Day…and Mother’s Day…and every day.

Life turns on a dime

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There comes a day in every adult’s life when they have to face the mortality of their own parents. Nothing you do in your life prepares you for the moment when you realize the person who was once so big, so tall, occasionally scary, usually loving, the one who knew all the answers has now become the child and you, the child, are now the one with the money and the answers and have to be in charge.

It is a dark day.

Mine came in December of 2003. I knew my dad had an incurable lung disease and I knew it was only a matter of time. I’d been out shopping that day, getting ready for Christmas when I came home and got “that call” on my answering machine. “We took dad to the hospital…”

He survived that round (barely) and lived just over another year. I spent that year flying back and forth to New Mexico and learned how to drop everything and go. Don’t think, just buy a one way plane ticket and go.

My dad passed in 2005 and so at two years out I was starting to feel a bit more relaxed. I will always fear the sound of the ringing phone, especially at night, but it has lessened some. My mother struggled for a while after my dad’s passing but had taken control of her life and moved into a community of active elderly people. Her health is good and she has my aunt and uncle to check in on her.

So this past week when my sister called and told me “mom doesn’t sound so good” and that she had been sick for two weeks, I was nervous, but not too upset. My mom is prone to flu and I was sure that was the case.

I put off calling her until Saturday. Talking to my mom is not to be taken lightly and must be done with a strength of ego and confidence because she will break them both down in an hour conversation.

Saturday I woke late, lazed in bed, then decided to call my mom and get it over with.

Only to find out my aunt was taking her to the hospital that day. She was convinced she had “Valley Fever” since they are doing construction next door to her apartment. The blood tests earlier this week said no. She’s had problems with ear tumors in the past, maybe it was that. It also shows all the signs of meningitis…..

So my sister and I geared up for the all too familiar. We both paid whatever insane fare the plane people wanted and flew out immediately.

The hospital sent her home with anti-nausea drugs and some incredibly powerful pain meds and set up a doctor appointment for tuesday. I’m going out of my mind because this could be anything from a really bad case of the flu to a really bad relapse of the tumors.

And I’ve spent the past two days tending to, arguing with, and caring for my elderly mother as though she were a child. Her snippy demand that my sister NOT take her temperature will go down in the annals of family lore……

With some pain meds, forcing liquids, getting her to eat and cleaning up her place, she seems to be back on her feet, wobbly, but upright. Don’t know if we are out of the woods. I do know that I don’t like being in this all too familiar place. And I’m sort of rebellious that I missed what looked to be a fine weekend.

But that’s my job as one of her three kids. I can’t abandon her, I can’t turn the other way. It’s the circle of life, right? Painful tho it may be.

In a few days I’ll go back to work and everything will be fine. But every time I have to drop everything and catch a plane to tend to a sick parent some part of me, some childhood wonder and joy goes dark.

The darkness of losing a parent is unlike anything I can describe. You simply, endure.

I don’t think I have to look at that yet. My mom will be kicking for a lot more years…but I wonder how many more times in the coming years I’ll be asked to hop a plane and “don’t think, just fly”.

For now, I’m ok. She’s ok. We’re…calm.

But it’s left me……

thoughtful

Sometimes quiet is ok too

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Today I’m going to borrow completely from Avelino Maestas, the force behind the blog Live from Silver City.

He quoted from a post by Radley Balko on The Agitator and I’ll use the same quote here:

“When you blog every day, you sometimes feel conflicted about writing on other topics when there are breaking, overwhelming, horrible events going on in the news. Ignoring such news while writing on about other stuff seems callous. But so does commenting on an event about which you have little to say.”

The events from yesterday are too overwhelming to discuss. I have nothing profound to add that hasn’t been said in every major media outlet. I’m already tired and sad from hearing about it so much. This morning even Adam Carolla, who has a radio show that is normally a diversion for me, spent the morning talking of nothing but the events at Virginia Tech.

My input today is thus…choose to use your day and the energy of your thoughts toward love. For at the end of the day, love endures.