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Can It Be Real?

Waking from a dream… that is what it feels like this Monday morning.

It began Friday when I prepared to leave the house. I felt slightly discombobulated, but I pushed through as I walked the dog, drank my coffee and showered in preparation for my day.

I don’t know if it is good or bad that my loved ones have a ring dedicated to each of their numbers associated on my cell phone. The roar of the motorcycle filled my kitchen as I packed my lunch and cringed at the fact that my dad was calling that early on a weekday morning. If I refused to pick up, would no news be good news?

“I don’t want to worry you, but I’m in the hospital again,” he said.

“OK,” I replied trying to hide the quiver in my voice.

“You do what you need to do – you don’t need to come over here. I’m praying for you, and I know you are for me. If I don’t see you, I love you,” he said that last part so fast, my mind tried to block the enormity of the words that flew through the miles between us. Surely, I heard it wrong, but I knew he wouldn’t repeat it.

Should I come right now? Should I wait? It’s a 3 1/2-hour trip. What about all the times in my life when he offered unsolicited advice? Where the hell was it now? Tell me what to do. You’re the DAD.

It’s amazing how unclear your mind is in moments like that. Thoughts fly, very few make sense, most lack context.

Of course I hopped in my car with an overnight bag packed full of shit that made no sense either. I made a quick stop at work – maybe just to check in with other people to see if this moment seemed as big to them as it did to me. My mind was still trying to tell me that everything was fine or soon would be.

“You need to be there, go,” my boss said. That was enough to pull me back to reality to get me on the road.

The drive was long. Was THIS it? If not, when?

It’s crazy to refer to the event as a false alarm when it involves a man who underwent bypass surgery almost 20 years ago and received countless angioplasties. Cheating death, maybe.

Either way, I’ll take it.

Stents six weeks ago; a couple more last week; throw in another un-repaired blockage for good measure. Where are my Cliff Notes?

It was good to see my dad, even better that he wasn’t in the hospital. But somehow it pains me to see that he is getting old. Very little remains of the physique of the man I remember as a kid. The big guns and ripped pecs, replaced by a round belly and face. He rubs swollen arthritic fingers in disbelief that his body is not what he remembers either.

As sad as I can be with thoughts that time is more limited now than it once was, it was still good to just be. We talked candidly leaving no unfinished business hoping it will somehow push back a day that neither of us want to see arrive. We have been through a lot and remain very close, even though crazy years left marks on our family too big to erase.

Family secrets. Powerful. Devastating.

Is it ironic or simple timing that found me talking to my therapist last week and the week before about my old family baggage. “Alice, I don’t give a shit about it anymore; just help me stop the crazy eating that seems to have found me of late,” I wanted to scream. But somehow this morning it feels like she knew where she was leading me.

It is raw today, very raw. The emotions float on the surface and spill onto the page. Lyle watched my fingers dance frantically over the keyboard. I saw his concern and told him through the breaks in the bubbles of emotion streaming from my nose and eyes that everything was fine. He didn’t believe me, but it is true.

What remains is a little peace, which is what I guess I wanted for each of us all along.

My job, my responsibility is to me today and tomorrow. As I recoup and embrace the past three days for all it was and all I was able to leave behind, I move forward with wonder and hope.

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6 Responses

  1. Very powerful post. I am glad your dad is okay and that something good seems to have come from this.

  2. Thanks Karen. I’m exhausted and feel like I could sleep for days. Part of me would like to take another day off work, but I hate to use any more time in case I need it sooner than anticipated. I also think the distraction of work may help a little bit.

  3. Are you doing these road-trips alone? I wish I could drive you.

    You write very well. This is a very powerful post as Karen said.

    btw (on a lighter note), I grew up hearing the word “discombobulated,” but my grandmother always pronounced it discomboobulated (I miss her dearly).

  4. Love you!
    Miss my Dad!
    Cake won’t fix anything!

  5. Gina – Yep I made the road trips alone…I think the time in the car is good by myself…I like the whole discomboobulated – maybe better than the “real” word.

  6. maryann,

    Thanks for the reminder – on both accounts! I’m blessed.

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