My father is sick.
Usually he calls me every few weeks but that has been lagging for the past few months. I’ve made extra efforts to keep in touch but it has been difficult.
I didn’t grow up with him in my life. And even though I sound like an after school special, I don’t know how to have a man in my life, like a father figure. Guess it’s a good thing I like women. So our relationship has been… rough, to say the least.
I had all kinds of angst about him deserting me (though to be fair, I have two older brothers, one who is my Mom’s son and the other I didn’t know existed until after my other brother died). I remember being young and wondering why we didn’t live in the same apartment any more and why I never got to see him.
When I was a teenager, it didn’t make sense the things my mother explained to me about their break-up. And when I tried to speak to him on the phone, he was so angry with my Mom for calling him, that he didn’t want to know why she had called and told her never to call her again about those kids, me and my brother. I was on the other end of the phone and hoped that the floor would swallow me whole for how my Mom looked after that interaction.
So when the opportunity came to get back in touch with him, I didn’t exactly jump for joy. In fact, during one of our conversations, something he said got me so upset that I hung up on him. That was maybe the second or third time I had hung up on anyone. We reconciled and I vowed never to do that to anyone again. And I haven’t.
Over the past 10 years, we’ve had many more conversations and many revelations. I see where I get some of my mannerisms from, my deep loud laugh, my rare moments of hard-heartedness. I also see where I get my logical thinking from, where I get my bad eyes from, where I get my slow and steady nature from. No matter how much I hated him when I didn’t know him, I am my Father’s Daughter. And knowing part of him now, reminds me of that every day.
And he is sick.
I caught him by chance one Thursday morning and he sounded awful. I came to find out that he was in the hospital. My Uncle (his brother, who I didn’t grow up knowing either) told me that they had done emergency surgery to remove malignant polyps in his colon.
He doesn’t know I know this and just assured me that he will bounce back on his feet. Even though he has admitted that the doctors don’t know what all else is wrong with him and that a home health aide will be coming by next week to see about him.
“Don’t worry Sandy, Daddy will be fine.”
And I worry anyway because I know sickness all too well. I know for someone who is not used to it, who never had anything worse than the flu, that he is scared. I can also hear it in his wavery voice. I worry also because I know no one will take care of him like family would. Though he has nephews and brothers close, I am vain enough to think that I would probably do a better job at seeing to him than they would, because I know sickness. I’ve lived sickness, I’ve nursed sickness. I’ve buried it.
I promised him that I would call and speak to him every day from now on. That is all I can do from here. So I will do it.
My heart is conflicted. I am grieving my Mother. Her burial would have taken place on July 21. I miss her and this time is not moving fast enough so that I can get past it. And now my heart is worried for my father. The man I don’t remember ever putting me to bed or showing up at one of my school functions. I worry for him, possibly like he never thought of me.
Conflicted, my heart doesn’t want to hurt for another parent. But it is. His time will come too and I don’t know that I am any better prepared.