My dad is in the hospital again. Melanie and I spent a pleasant few days in Baton Rouge last week, visiting with the parental units, and sibling. Dad seemed fairly good ... going up & down the stairs, albeit a little slowly. He has compression fractures in his spine, as a result of osteoporosis, as a result of chemotherapy which he had several years ago for non-Hodgkins' lymphoma. Well the cancer didn't kill him, but the treatment nearly has. And probably will. At any rate, I got back to Charlotte Wednesday night, and he & I had a great conversation on the phone about stuff. Thursday I got a call from my sister that dad had fallen. He had a fracture at C-2 in his neck. This can't be good.
There is no paralysis, but he had surgery Monday morning to put a screw in to stabilize the fracture. After the surgery he had trouble swallowing. A swallow x-ray showed aspiration to the lungs. They are starting him on steroids, and tried to put in an NG tube for nourishment. However, after 3 tries, they gave up. Tomorrow morning, they are putting in a PEG tube surgically. My mom, up until now, has been a fountain of strength, but this evening, she sounded a little rattled. My sister says she is feeling like a bobblehead. I am flying down this Friday, for moral support.
Everyone knows that there will be an end. No matter how much we try, no matter how much plastic surgery we have (speaking completely in general of course!) we're still going to die (and end up as a slightly better looking corpse, if we've gone under the knife). And we know that our parents will get old and die. But when we're faced with it, it is terrible to contemplate. I guess many many books have been written about losing our parents. No matter how close or not close we are to our parents, it is a significant loss.
In my case, my dad and I have had our moments of closeness; many of distance. When I was a child he was gone. A lot. For a month or more at a time, traveling the world with his job. The world was a lot bigger back then; you just didn't hop planes as frequently as you can now. If he was in Japan, he stayed in Japan for weeks at a time. Sucked for my mom! Even when we joined him at his overseas posts, he traveled still more! But I guess we saw him more frequently (which wasn't saying a lot). When I was home last week I found several picture albums showing mom and dad in Bangkok. On a ship going across the Pacific. In Venice. In the Netherlands. And some had me in them. I remember going on Home Leave from Manila by way of Taiwan and Japan.
But no matter how distant we were, he is still my dad. There is a plethora of feelings attached to that word. Too many to put into words. The thought of him not being on the planet with us any more is just too painful to consider.