Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Ties that Bind and Blind and Confound

Dad is scheduled for an angioplasty later this morning. It will be his 12th.

Last night, as we chatted with him in the hospital room, I muttered the evil words, "I suppose your doctor will want you to start on a cardiac diet right away."

Dad gave me Stink Eye and replied, "If the doctor wants to put himself on a cardiac diet he's free to do so. I won't. I want Kentucky Fried Chicken on the day they spring me from this joint. You'll also need to get macaroni and cheese as a side and some biscuits." He kept jabbing his finger at me as he spoke these words.

To which I said, "Ummm....doesn't that make me an Enabler."

"Baby, it's my life and I'll eat whatever I want." Jab. Jab.

I sat there for a bit, pondering on the fact that my mother diligently adhered to her medical diet and medication schedule...and she passed away before my father. In the meantime, Dad's had open heart surgery, a couple of strokes, a dozen angioplasty's...all while refusing to take the prescribed meds. "Statins don't do any good and cortisone is over-rated." He also refused to go to rehab...insisting that he could do different exercises himself at home. Which he never now, he barely shuffles around and will need a wheelchair soon. He defiantly eats a cube of butter with his bread, takes his Rascal through the McDonald's drivethru and (this is the ultimate) he salts his McDonald's french fries. Seriously, he doesn't even try to cut back or be healthy. In many ways, he snubs his nose at conventional wisdom and does the thing that should actually hurt him the most.

I must come to terms with The Truth. There is no logic to life and death. If there was, my mom would most definitely still be here. As would my sister.

So I was left shaking my head in disbelief last night as I listened to my dad talk about the Bad Luck that's followed him throughout his life. I couldn't help but think that's he's been Awfully Lucky...and he doesn't even know it. Having 3 daughters who continued to talk to him after all of his shenanigans. A wife who stayed with him after he left her, spied on her, planted recording devices throughout the house, had an affair and basically belittled her for the duration of their marriage. Living into his eighties despite his blatant disregarded for medical and physician intervention. Housed and cared for by the daughter that he never believed to be "his" biologically - and sent her into a major depression by requesting a dna test for settlement leverage in a divorce.

Oy vey. I could go on and on and on and on and on and on.

It's classically ironic, isn't it?

And yet, here I am. Feeling duty-bound to Honor My Father and make his final years more comfortable than he's ever experienced.

I no longer feel the unconditional adoration for him that consumed me well into my twenties. I'm older and wiser and have a truer perspective. So I carry forward with my duty all while feeling mildly, emotionally vacant. I love him, but in a much quieter and controlled way.

However, I remain stunned that he doesn't see how very lucky he's been in life - both Then and Now.

Why does this make me angry and resentful? Because it isn't fair or just as compared to the fates of my mother and sister.

I really need to get over myself and accept life in all of its impartial happenstance.