As with any situation in life, my family has not disappointed in the drama department during my father's illness. I have struggled to get updates on his condition, and my arrival on site taught me that while a picture is worth a thousand words, it also covers a multitude of truths. This was clearly our last visit.
I am weeping as I write this, and I realize this is the first time I have given my tears permission to flow this week. Crossing 6 times zones in 4 days is a terrible idea, and having something scheduled every evening could be positive or negative, depending on what you wish to accomplish. While it may result in snoring at your desk, it also gives the heart time to ponder without really processing.
My Dad has had Multiple Sclerosis for a number of years. Sneaky disease that it is, it allowed him to have normal and lengthy telephone conversations that gave life the illusion of normal. Until the Congestive Heart Failure jumped on board a few weeks ago, I did not know that he had not spent any pleasure time outside in over a year. I could not hear him shaking in a manner similar to Parkinson's, could not see his tongue thick and on the verge of escaping his lips in moments of stillness, and could not see the scoliosis they've now diagnosed. He says he didn't realize anything was wrong; he's just sitting how he always sat while driving truck.
He dropped other tidbits, too - stories told twice in ten minutes. A neighbor of several years mistaken for a high school friend. His line in the sand - he wants to be "in the ground at 70" - and he's already 68. "Don't forget, Vic - I wanna be buried upside down." Yes, Dad - so the world can kiss your ass. "You got 'er," he says, laughing.
Laughter is my Dad's legacy. Despite how little we have known of each other through the years, we share this gift of humor. It turns these 2 days together into a lifetime of memories. His video chat with my middle son makes me roar laughing - until he refutes the offer of a visit saying, "You've been a good grandson; I could at least make fun of you." The threat of tears prompts a hasty end to the phone call because this, too, I share with my Dad: say it quick, move on, and avoid the depth of it.
It is quiet from across the country upon my return to the prairies. Today I sent my mom a text message - just a silly Snapchat photo of myself with kissing lips. "Tell Dad I say hello; he's been awfully quiet." She responds that he sometimes has a down day, but it's been 3 days - the lowest she's ever seen him. My heart breaks as I realize my Dad actually knows I'm gone. And then he wakes from his nap.
"He says it's an improvement on your looks," the text reads.
"I wouldn't expect anything less from him," I respond with a giggle.
"He says he is glad you're not disappointed. He is laughing ... nice to see."
Awww Dad. You don't disappoint. You've been a good dad; I could always have fun with you.
Your #1 Youngest Daughter