Thursday, November 09, 2006

Growing Up

My father has a pain in the neck, and this time I'm not talking about my mother. He goes in on Wednesday for a biopsy on the tumor in his throat.

There has been a constant stream of nicotine in his system, with no exaggeration whatsoever, since childhood. First, it took the form of Marlboro Reds. About fourteen years ago, after the birth of my younger sister coupled with a stern warning from his doctor that an emphysema diagnosis was immiment, he switched to Kodiak chewing tobacco.

My father is not a weak person. He has kicked numerous addictions with not the slightest trace of relapse. If he knew something he was doing--something over which he had control--was hurting someone, he would stop it.

My mother told me recently that he confided to her he doesn't think he will live five more years. Furthermore, he doesn't care. This is interesting on many levels, not the least of which is this: I am shocked he and my mother actually talk to each other. Theirs has always been a marriage of my mother's monologues and my father's "yeah, yeah's." The very presence of such open communication is proof itself that something is up.

I will admit I took a strange comfort in the fact that he is not afraid of dying. But, as mom said to dad, "what about us?" What about the wife of 29 years? What about the daughter who is not yet fifteen years old? What about the grandchildren?

Questions. Right now they're all we have. Maybe we only ever have questions. Living is the big unknowable, and even more than dying, it's the thing we must truly seek to understand.

10 comments:

toyfoto said...

I'm really sorry about your father's situation. A man in my office (who never smoked or drank) has recently been diagnosed with stage 3 tongue cancer.

I hope your father's premonition doesn't come true (it didn't for my mother eight years ago when she was diagnosed with stage 4 uterine cancer, though it's been a constant struggle).

My thoughts are with you.

Michele said...

I am very sorry to hear about your fathers throat and I hope things go better than he is anticipating. He has taken an interesting attitude towards the situation but who knows what he must be thinking with this staring him in the face. Coping mechanism.

Binkytown said...

Oh no, this is the kind of thing you never want to read. I'm sorry. I'm thinking good thoughts for you, your parents and your whole family. Big virtual hug (Even if you are not the mushy gushy type! Too bad!)

Anonymous said...

Binky, my thoughts are with you. if you need someone to chat with, you know where to find me.

I hope the diagnosis is a postive one for your dad.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, I was going to post, "you know where to find me," but my older sister beat me to it.

But you know. You know.

K said...

ugh. I echo the other commenters for lack of anything else to say.

Mary-LUE said...

E, It is sad news to say the least but I love how you talk about your dad. I went back and read the post about your friend's dad. You write so beautifully.

Jerri Ann said...

My father died 18 years ago when I was 19. I personally was angry as crap. He knew he was killing himself and I blamed him for many years for leaving me here to cope alone. It is a tough road to travel. Make peace before you have to live in that hell. He was only 43. Today would have been his birthday. Please, do as I ask and make that peace, if it is 5 years or 25 years before you lose a loved one, don't ever let them go when you think they aren't thinking about you. It isn't selfish, it is being real. I don't mean to come here in such a harsh manner, but I've lived in many many years of deep depression, all over that anger.

jen said...

oh honey. i am thinking of you. not an easy time, nor easy the things it brings up inside.

you'll be in my thoughts.

Mrs. Chicky said...

I have no words except I'm very sorry to hear this and I hope for the best possible prognosis for your father.

I'll be thinking about you.