Understanding in the simmer.

October 7th, 2012 by Jan
In my simmer, that place between sleep and remembering, I had a bit of an understanding. Of course pretty much all I do is think of dad these days and wonder if today is the day he will die. Then I go for a walk and sit with him, talk to him, watch football and make phone calls, appointments and get him stuff.
Then I wonder when he dies, how I will find him. Will he just not wake from one of his many naps or will he be doing something and fall grabbing at his chest like Sanford screaming for Louise that this is the big one? I wonder if I will be here or if he will wait until after I leave. Will he be in the pool, the gym, or at the post office, or will he be driving a car and take out others?
I guess it is no wonder I’ve aged a bit these last few weeks. Wonder and worry never a did a body good. And worry has never been my thing. (I prefer resentment)
Yet, being here for a while with dad in his fragile state I find I resent less and worry more.
And in all of that; at times I let go.
95% of dad’s heart is blocked and not working. A lesser man would have died years ago. But my dad is a jock. An athlete, he has an image to maintain and a strong will to keep going and “get fit”.
Dad was the primary caregiver to his wife of 45 years who, for the last 6 years had dementia and needed everything. (side note: or is it a resentment creeping in… I think that woman needed everything her entire life.) anyway… Dad loved her and she took his heart in the mix of their life.
So, while I have been in Los Alamos with my dad. He has had two “episodes” that landed him in the ER and one ambulance trip to the Heart Hospital in Albuquerque. He was released a week ago and was told there are no options to fix him. Meds have been prescribed, he wears oxygen because he also has pneumonia and his oxygen levels have been low. He is not to do much and doesn’t have the energy to do much… except sometimes, when he wants to do it all.
We were told to call hospice. And to tell the truth they scared the hell out of me. They are really wonderful people, kind and caring and know their stuff, but they are the ones, who put it in my mind that he will “go any minute”. Hence, my daily minutes are fucking long.
But, last night like I said, in my simmer. I calmed down. Dad did not get 95% blockage in his heart arteries over night. He has been working on this and living with this for quite a while. Just 9 weeks ago, he won 7 gold medals in the Senior Olympics in swimming. He did report he was a little tired after the events. Hell I’m tired after a half hour of qigong at the O!
After his wife died, dad thought he would have a free life to come and go and do and be. He wanted to work out at the gym, have breakfast with the boys, volunteer at this group and that one. “Get organized” is what he said. Instead he got  pneumonia and chest pain.
And what he really got is information. Dad knows how he will die; something few of us will ever know. What none of us know, dad included, is when.
The pneumonia was the thing that probably shook up the heart crap, which made him seek help, which in turn made people in the know say, he will die of heart disease, maybe today, maybe tomorrow and maybe in two years. His cardiac Dr. said, go ahead and go to the pool and the gym, have a great life, do what you want to. Debbie from Hospice said don’t even go for a ride in the car to the Jemez (altitude 10,000). I tell him to “calm the fuck down,” as he gets in a manic mood and has to go or has to do something NOW! He is also very bossy, but always has been. *Note to self:  please and thank you will take you far.
I’ve changed my ticket home and waffled about getting a new one. Remember, he could die today… but, then again, so could I. So, I booked a ticket home for the 12th. I need to see Ken and Peet and Marian and Moser and I need to go to the O and raise my hands.
I realized while simmering, the only difference between dad dying today or next year is that we now have knowledge of that 95% blockage. But, he has had that for a while and he Sally Forthed each day. I’m betting he will carry on from here as well, or not.
We need to live while we are alive.

4 thoughts on “Understanding in the simmer.

  1. Laura B

    Jan, as I think about going Outside next week to visit my Dad, who has cancer and is sliding into Alzheimers, I can’t help thinking how different our fathers are, and how different our relationships with our dads, and yet there is so much in what you have said that has rung true for me. I am not as eloquent as you are, my friend,
    so let me just say thank you, and I will try to remember to live while I’m alive.

  2. Nancy

    I’m sure your time with him these past few weeks are the thing you needed to do, and when he goes, in 2 hours or 2 years, you walked the walk with him….
    and when you walk everywhere, anytime…. mind the pee … it’s EVERYWHERE!


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