20. Contemplating my mortality on the first anniversary of my Dad's death.
Though I have the assistance of pain meds, sleep over the last few days has been elusive. While I can cite my discomfort from nerve endings starting to "re-fire" (at least I think thats what it is) it it also not lost on me that today is the one year anniversary of my dad Stan's death.
And you're thinking "wow this person has had one hell of year," you are not wrong.
My dad died unexpectedly of a heart attack exactly one week before he was supposed to undergo a quadruple bypass. It was a shock on too many accounts. First, because it seemed so cruel that the timing was that exact. Second, because at 69 he had only been retired for two years and this was the time in his life that were supposed to bring him the joy his job did not. And lastly, because ever since his own fathers death at 62 , he was rigid about regular check ups to make certain he would not suffer the same fate.
Sorry, this does require some extra explanation: mere weeks after my Grandfather had gone through a successful triple bypass, he discovered he had advanced stage colon cancer. He survived for approximately 10 more months. So my father was fastidious about making certain he had colonoscopies, but he really dropped the ball on the heart stuff.
The day before he died, while we chatted on the phone, I mentioned how strange that he was so regimented about the one but not the other. The reason was actually simple: it hadn't created a problem.
Dad was healthier than his younger brother, who had already suffered a series of heart attacks since his early 50's. So it wasn't until his brother died three months before him that he started considering he might have the same problems. Did he feel it coming on? Who knows.
While he had ordered a number of "healthy heart "supplements months before it wasn't until he felt a "tightening in his chest" in late July that he decided to go have it checked out.
He went to the doctor, alone.
He insisted, as an "adult man," that he was fine, despite over a decade earlier offering to accompany my mother (his ex-wife ) to her appointments when she was being treated for Amyloidosis. You always needed someone to be "unemotional" in the room, he said. I imagine because he was so stoic that if any bad news were to come, he thought would be able to handle it while still processing all the doctor had to say.
I think his kids will always wonder, if we had insisted on going with him, would the outcome have been different?
I consider how having lost both parents has prepared me for this cancer/cancer journey. How vastly different both of their deaths were, and how bearing witness to their final days, did I gain the skills to walk this path? Or walk it better?
Because of them :
I always have a second set of ears in the exam room.
I have the determination to comprehend EXACTLY what my test results mean.
I will not back down from the tediousness that is filing and RE-filing paperwork.
I find humor in the darkest of situations.
I am less afraid.
I have no doubt that someday I will join him in the great theme park in the sky, but thanks to him, in lessons taught and cautionary tales exposed, I know now is not the time.