Sunday, October 07, 2007

To Make A Long Story Short

There have been a lot of ups and downs recently with my Dad. Literally, ups and downs. He has had several episodes where his legs have given out and down he goes. The week before last, he was on the ground three separate times. One found him collapsing on the way into a Wednesday night Mass. My Mother rushed in, waited until a break in the action then proclaimed, "Tom has fallen!" and half the congregation in the back jumped up and ran out to help.

The last straw was when he fell at home and blood was involved.

My Dad is a fighter. He was born premature and not expected to live. 88 years later, here he is continuing to beat the odds.

Considering the "quality of life" not only for my Dad, but for my Mom, it was decided to put in a pace maker. The doctor explained it would not necessarily prolong his life, but it would regulate the heart beat which was falling too low and causing the drop in blood pressure.

When my Dad's health took a turn for the worst four years ago a pace maker was not an option. Considering the improvements of recent medical procedures "they" decided that "out patient' surgery was all that was required to get my Dad up and running again.

It was almost the truth.

I realize that I am not the only one who has to watch their parent fade away. My Dad is a shell of the person he was. He is encased in a body that does not work any longer. He has had strokes that have robbed him of who he is. Who he was.

I sit with him as he watches television in between naps. Anything that is cowboy related, John Wayne especially, he is thoroughly absorbed. I sometimes can catch a glimpse of the person he was, sometimes he makes an observation, or an attempt at a joke. There is a tiny part of him in there.

It was reported that as he lay on the sidewalk in front of the church with his eyes closed, the EMS people finally arrived and standing over him asked if he had passed out or was unconscious.

His startling blue eyes flew open and he commanded them, "Get me the hell up!"

Not that my Dad ever swore before, actually he never did, he always said that a man who had to resort to profanity was a man who lacked a vocabulary.

I would give anything, anything to have one day, one afternoon, one hour with my Dad the way he was. To have him rebuke me for muttering a profanity. To have him shake his finger in my face and tell me that I was a "FAMILY SURNAME"!! To have those moments when he would be telling a story and begin to wind it up by saying, "To make a long story short...."

To hear one more time his white washed WWII stories. To hear the endless supply of, "When I was young...." narratives. What I would give to hear about his light weight fighting career in the army, or to be told about him swimming across the river in New Hampshire, or his days as a number runner in NYC.

When ever his time does come, even though I am beginning to believe he will live to be 100, his long story will indeed be cut too short.


Nelle said...

My Dad turns 86 this month. He is in congestive heart failure and has lost much of his hearing. He is very irritable and watches to watch TV or eat. It is very sad to see someone who was so vibrant slipping away. I understand.

Tressa said...

I lost my father to his 4th bout of cancer 10 years ago. Its never the same with any two losses...but I understand not wanting the picture to fade. ((((hugs)))

He's still there...and if you can't see a missing piece...look in the mirror. I'll bet you find it there.

meno said...

I understans how you feel. My dad is only 81, but "things" keep happening to him.

He collapsed in a department store 2 weeks ago. Low blood pressure. There is talk of a pacemaker.

My best to your dad.

Lisa :-] said...

((((Mary))) It is SO hard to watch them fade. My Dad's final illness was pretty quick...four short months from diagnosis to the day he passed away. We were devastated. But I wonder how much harder it would have been to go more slowly. My heart is with you... Wishing you strength for the vigil.

Becky said...

I feel for you. My dad has changed a lot since he had a series of strokes. He was always so strong, stubborn, single minded... now he limps, his mind drifts, he drives like a man 15 years older than he is... it makes me so sad.

gigi said...

I am so sorry, Mary. I know how painful this is. I lost my Dad 11 years ago, and I would give anything to hear his voice again; to listen to those tales of life during the depression, the wars....his youth. To laugh at one of his shaggy dog stories. To hear him sing.

There's more than a tiny part of your father in there still. It's true age and ill health changes them; we learn to love and appreciate whoever they are becoming. But I know what it means to already miss him. My heart goes out to you. This is so difficult.

mamacita chilena said...

Even 88 is a a longer life than many people live...and it sounds like your dad has been a person who has made the most out of every single moment he's been a live. If he's a fighter like you say he is, I'm sure you will have him around for quite a bit longer :)

ps. how random that we are both Pisces and our hubby's are both Libras. Small world!

Paul said...

You've always been able to convey your deep love for your father. He sounds like the family rock. It's not easy to see such people slip away.

pia said...

I am so sorry :) Sometimes I think it's harder to watch somebody slip away and other times I wish that I had one moment with my Mom knowing that she was going to die

Anything I say will sound maudlin and...

V said...