WHEN A PARENT BECOMES ILL...
Saturday, December 11, 2010
My father has been diagnosed with a reoccurance of stomach cancer and this time it is terminal -the doctors are giving him 6 months to a yr to live. Presently he is in the hospital with a host of problems and goes in and out of being lucid. We have been estranged for a number of yr(yes, I did grow up with him in the house and yes, he is married to my mom- so no those are not the issues) and he requested that my brother call me. He got on the phone and apologized for all that he had done and that he did indeed love me. I can tell you that I feel as if I have received a gift from God! Through all my years of counseling to relievethe hurt and the pain I am glad that not only was he able to acknowledge his actions but that I was at a place in my life where I could hear it , accept it and then let go. I promised to call him the next day but instead I went to visit. He was in the hallway of the hospital carrying on(one of his non-lucid moments- or maybe he was just asserting himself- I am not sure which) but he stopped did a double take when he saw me and gave me a hug. The giant that was a NYPD detective sergeant and ruled our house under complete law and order was now small, weak and I had to look hard to find "dad". He is aware that he is coming to the end of his life and is tying up lose ends. I am feeling so any conflicting emotions - happiness that at least we are talking , sadness that he missed so much(my 2 children and all that my husband and I have accomplished for the last 20 yrs of so ) and how both of our lives would have been different ....but that is in the past.
Of course, when someone is approaching death there are decisions to be made- hospice or not(my brother and I are for hospice - he needs to be comfortable in his last days. My sister wants a 6th opinion and my mother says that she has to agree with my sister. In order to keep the peace I am agreeing with them and doing research on hospice facilities near their home and then I plan on introducing the idea again to them both. My brother has no decorum at all(also a retired NYPD detective) and tells them that they are crazy and t hat my dad is not a science fair project on which to perform experiments. This is an extremely difficult time , but my brother and I are dealing with it the way we always deal with stress, humor. We are making a list of "daddy-isms" crazy things that he either did or said to us as children. In making this list we realized A. the man did have a sense of humor and B. he said some of the craziest things!!! One would be his use of the word "doomsday" He would use this when we were being punished for something. The catch is , he wouldn't just say doomsday , he would drag the word out and say "dooooomsday". SO if you were punished and couldn't go outside and you were looking out the window at all your friends playing he would come by and say,"You can look out that window all you want , because you are not going outside until doooomsday"! First of all when the heck is doomsday and really..would you want to be outside when it arrived?? I know this is silly , but my brother and I laughed for about a good 15 minutes over this one. Stress needs to be relieved somehow.
So how do you wait for the end to come???