Monday, April 24, 2006

More About Dad

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and drama. Frankly, I'm exhausted. And my dad called last night to say that he is having a lot of trouble breathing.

Cathy: Umm... shouldn't you go to the hospital?
Dad: Nah, I'll just wait until tomorrow and call the doctor.
Cathy: How long has this been going on?
Dad: Oh, a couple of days.
Dad: I'll be fine, I'll just call the doctor tomorrow.
Cathy: Well, other than that, how are you?
Dad: Tired. I didn't sleep last night.
Cathy: That's very unlike you... why did you have trouble sleeping?
Dad: I was scared to go to sleep.
Cathy: ... Why? Aren't you a little old to be scared of the dark?
Dad: I couldn't breathe. I was afraid if I went to sleep, I wouldn't wake up.

He's driving ME to a heart attack, I think. I know one of the side effects of a major surgery like this is depression and extra emotionality, but it breaks my heart to hear him talk like this. I know he's bored, I know he's depressed, and I know that all I can do for now is call him a couple of times a day to try entertaining him. He's not even halfway through his confinement period yet. Dan is going up there on Wednesday or so to stay a week, do farm chores, entertain Dad, and take advantage of as many Red Sox games on ESPN up there as possible. I'm going to try going up for the weekend myself, but am not sure I can yet.

I just feel so useless to him down here, but can't take more time off right now to go up to be with him. And I know its stupid, but I feel like I should be able to do more... to keep Dad happy and healthy by the sheer force of my personality or something. And that's a ridiculous expectation for both myself and for my dad. But there you have it.

In other news, I experimented with a new setting on the exercise bike last night and OH MY GOD MY LEGS HURT. But no pain, no gain, right? I want to get rid of the disproportionately flabby thighs I inherited from my mother. I told my Dad, who has total chicken legs, that I would trade with him; he wasn't amused, because he remembered me telling him he has hot legs when he's in a dress (really the hospital gown). He wasn't too amused, but his nurse sure was. I thought he was too hopped up on medication to remember me teasing him, but it just goes to show: Dads will ALWAYS remember when you pick on them, even if they are under general anaesthesia and morphine. But it is true... my dad has legs that would make an 18-year-old prom queen proud. Those of you who knew him when he was in Miami wouldn't recognize him; the farm work has made his already chickeny-legs skinnier, his gut has actually turned into pure muscle, and his arms are gaining definition.

Its a little disheartening to have a 68-year-old father who is in better shape than you.

A little story for you all that Dad recently told me.

Dad did a stint in the Army when he was 18. His sergeant couldn't stand him -- probably because my dad was (and still is) the biggest smartass in the world -- and repeatedly chose him to stay in the barracks while the others were in the field to clean everything. With a toothbrush.

So Dad behaved at first, and scrubbed everything until it gleamed. The sergeant came by, said it wasn't good enough, and ordered him to do it again. Dad resignedly did. Again, the sergeant said it wasn't good enough. Dad mutinously cleaned everything a third time. The sergeant came by and told him to do it again. Dad refused. The sergeant ordered him again, and Dad told him to go fuck himself.

I'm sure you can imagine how well THAT went over. He ordered Dad to meet his team in the field. He responded that he'd been forced to clean so long, he didn't even know where they were anymore. The sergeant said he'd take him there, but he'd have to go double time.

Dad was a strong, lean guy in his teens and twenties... he'd been on the track team every year of middle and high school, but his sergeant didn't know that. They took off running, hauling all their gear. About halfway there, the sergeant started to get tired and told Dad to slow down. Dad, being the crotchety old man he is even then (which I say in a loving way, because it is one of my favorite qualities in him), "No, you mother fucker, you said double time and we're DOING it double time!" ... And then he sped up and ran even faster, much to the sergeant's dismay. He wasn't supposed to lose face and get there minutes after my Dad, you see.

Dad got in a lot of trouble for disrespect to his sergeant, but he never had to stay behind to clean the barracks again... over all, I think HE won!

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