Father’s and Son’s

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It’s Monday October 15th. It’s been a month since my Mother died. It’s really strange how time goes by. On one end, it feels like it was just yesterday that she died. On the other hand, it’s amazing how fast time has gone by. It’s been a whole month.

Most of this last month has been for the better. Most days are better than I thought they would be.

Part of that is that I’m getting to know my Dad. Not just on a Father and Son level, but from the perspective of one Man to another. I’m learning who he is as a Man, not just a Father.

It has been really good getting to know my Father the Man. It helps me understand myself better and maybe why I do some of the things that I do and have done. The apple truly doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I can see now where I get some of my behaviors and ways of being. I get it from him. A lot of the ways that I view and interact with the world have come from him. Now maybe you may be sitting wherever you are, reading this, and think, “Well duh Rob.” But understand this for a moment:

My parent’s got divorced when I was eight years old. I only saw my Father on the weekends in the beginning. That was maybe for a year. After that, I didn’t see much of my Father, and by the time I became a teenager, I only saw him occasionally when he came over to the house to work on one of his cars. Even then I didn’t see much of him as I was busy with school and friends. So we would see each other for a few moments at best.

We were distant and estranged as far as I was concerned. I have to admit, during my teens and into my twenties, I didn’t think much of my Father. I didn’t like how he handled things and I didn’t want to be like him. Saying something like, “You’re just like your Dad,” was fighting words to me back then. I wanted to be nothing like him.

I thought that my Mother got the raw deal in the divorce even though she was the one that wanted it.

I know better now. I heard my Mom’s side of the story many times growing up, and over the last few years, I’ve been getting my Dad’s side of it in bits and pieces. Now that my Mom is gone, I’ve been getting even more of my Dad’s side of things, and I have to admit, they make sense. They are the missing puzzle pieces that I didn’t know were there.

I’m glad for the time that I have with my Dad. It’s important to me. I’m glad that I’m getting to know him not only as a Father, but as a Man. He’s been honest with me when I ask him questions, he holds nothing back. He’s also answered every question that I’ve had so far.

I understand myself better now than at any other point in my life. I understand that many things I do and have done are “nurture.” They are the things I’ve learned from my friends, my society, and my culture. I’ve also noticed things that I would call “nature.” Maybe I’ve actually learned them without being aware of it, it’s totally possible. But I kind of doubt that. These are the things that have just sort of “come naturally.” Much of it I see and hear from my Father when I ask the questions that I’ve asked.

I highly recommend to all you Men in particular, and to everyone out there reading this, talk to your Dad if you are able to. Talk to him about being a Man. Don’t just ask him what it’s like being a Father, ask him about stuff that relates to being a Man.

Hopefully you have that option in your life still. If you do, if your Father is still alive and you are able to contact him, do it.

Talk to him and do stuff with him. I’m going over to his house later today and we are having steak. We’ll probably watch NHRA drag racing too.

Get to know your Father, not only as a Father, but as a Man. You may get answers to questions that you didn’t know you had. You may get some understanding into yourself that you didn’t know you wanted or that you needed.

 

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After

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It’s Monday September 24th. I buried my Mother on Saturday the 22nd. I’m putting dates and if necessary, times to keep things straight for myself, and for you the readers of my blog. All of what I’m describing here has already happened.

Friday the 21st we had the viewing for my Mother. It was the longest two hours of my life. Every minute felt like an eternity. I just wanted it to be over. My legs were sore and stiff for standing in one place for so long.

My Father was overwhelmed by how many people that showed up to pay their respects. He really had no idea how many friends and family that he had. He had no idea the impact he and my Mother made on these people, this community of car lovers. He was hoarse by the time it was over, he talked to each and every one of them, told them stories about how they had met each other or some of the adventures that they had had with each other over the last two decades.

The girlfriend told me earlier that morning that her Mother was coming either Friday or Saturday, to stand in support with me and to pay her respect to my Mother, whom she had never met before.

I wasn’t holding my breath for my girlfriend’s Mom to make it, but I won’t lie. I hoped she would, and I found myself searching the faces of everyone in that receiving line, hoping I would see her. I found myself disappointed that she didn’t make it to the viewing on Friday.

Seeing my Mother in the casket… I lost it when I saw her there. It brought the reality of the situation home for me. It made it all too real. The mortuary did a fantastic job with her though. Many times in the past, at most of the funerals I have attended over the years, the body doesn’t really look like the person who they once were. They don’t usually look like themselves. My grandparent’s sure didn’t. But my Mom… She looked like herself. She looked like my Mom. I could swear that she was taking a nap. I could swear that she was breathing.

Many of my extended family showed up. My Mother’s sister, her brother, their children, my cousin’s. Same with my Dad’s side. It was interesting. We are not close to any of them. Haven’t been in years. There’s some bad blood there that goes back a long time. Guilt and culpability on all sides. My parent’s and I are much closer to some of the “car show people” than we are to our own blood. And that’s okay by me. I’m good with it. I have nothing against my actual blood relatives, they’ve done nothing to me in particular, but I’ve seen the shit that went on over the years. I’m just not close to them and that is what it is. You reap what you sow.

Saturday we had our final viewing for my Mom at 10 am until 11 am. My girlfriend’s Mom was the second person in line that morning. She showed up. It meant the world to me and still does. I introduced her to my Mom. I told her that I wished that they had met each other before that day. I wish that they had met while my Mom was still alive. She talked to my Mom for a bit and then I introduced her to my Father. They hugged and said that they were both glad to have finally met. My Father told her that he saw where my girlfriend got her looks. My girlfriend and her mother look almost identical. My girlfriend is definitely her Mother’s Daughter.

My Father started settling a lot of accounts at the funeral. He was diplomatic and polite, but if he had a bone to pick with you, you got to hear about it that day. My Aunt, my Mother’s sister, got an ear full. So did her brother, my Uncle. My Father didn’t spare his siblings either. They all got some. Right, wrong, good, or bad, he said what he needed to say, and what’s done is done. Personally, I don’t blame him. Most of the things that he said, needed to be said, and those that he said those things to, needed to hear them. Shit had been going on for far too long.

The closing of the casket was the hardest all of for me. I can still see my Mother’s face clearly. It was the hardest because I know I will never look on her face again. I don’t believe in a heaven, hell, god, or devil. I don’t believe in reincarnation or an afterlife. What people describe as a “soul,” to me, is what is our consciousness. When you die, that “soul” or consciousness gets turned off like a light switch. One minute you are there, and the next, you are not. Lights on. Lights off.

Watching the mortuary staff close that casket, I couldn’t catch my breath. I started to hyperventilate. I got it under control some how, but it came back again once we got the cemetery and got ready to move the casket from the hearse to the grave site. I got over it though. I had to. No other choice. I was a pallbearer for her and I needed to get her there. I couldn’t do that one last thing for her if I couldn’t breathe. So I kept on keeping on. Just like right now. I’m keeping on keeping on.

After the funeral was over, we all went to a close friend’s house and had drinks and food. Lots and lots of drinks. Lots of stories about all the adventures that my Mom and Dad have had over the years. Lots of laughter. Lots of tears.

I have to back up for a bit though. I’m getting a head of myself a little bit.

At the end of the service, I made eye contact with my girlfriend’s Mom. I went to her and we embraced and talked briefly. I told her how grateful I was that she made it out for the funeral to pay her respect and to show support for me since her daughter was out of the country. I told her how much all of that meant to me. I told her how much her daughter means to me. I think the world of my girlfriend. I love her dearly. I told her Mom that I wanted to get to know their family better. I wanted them to get to know me better. Her Mom wanted the same. She told me how much her daughter loves me and thinks of me.

I know it seems pretty “blue pill” and fantastical. My eyes are open. I know where this could all lead. It could lead to nowhere. It could also lead to somewhere. All relationships are transitory by nature. You could spend most of your life with someone and you’ll never truly know them because you aren’t them. All relationships end eventually, whether by a decision or a choice, or by death itself. All relationships last but a short time for the most part. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have them. By choosing to not have them because of loss, you are missing out on life. You are missing the point of all of it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all of those slogans and what not.

So back to the get together….

Dad wasn’t done with the what for’s there either. There was one guy in particular that got both barrels. I actually thought it was going to turn violent for a minute there. Luckily it didn’t.

I also smoked my first cigar that night. I’ve always been interested in what the big deal was, but never got around to it. Mostly because since I have no idea what constitutes a good cigar, I didn’t want my first experience to be shit because of a shit cigar.

I see what the big deal is now though. Scotch and a good cigar are awesome. When I was around 16 I got really drunk, like throw up, be sick, and pass out drunk on scotch. From that day until now, I can’t stomach scotch. Or whiskey for that matter. The smell of it alone makes me retch. Drinking scotch while smoking a cigar though, that I can do. Both mellow and enhance the other.

Sunday I pretty much stayed home by myself. This last week I definitely took a tail spin with everything that has been going on. Going to the gym became sporadic. Drinking became the norm for the week. Even junk food showed back up on the menu. Just for that last week though.

I talked to my Brother from another Mother who lives in Illinois Sunday night, I mentioned him in my last post I believe. He was checking in to make sure that I was doing all right. Just shooting the shit with him raised my spirits immensely.

This morning, Monday September 24th, I woke up around 8:30 am or so and talked with my girlfriend for about an hour and a half. We talked about her Mom showing up for the funeral, I told her what that meant to me. The girlfriend and I are in a good place. Life is good.

I called my job and told them that I would be back on Tuesday September 25th. Tomorrow. Life goes on. You got to keep on keeping on.

Thank you for reading these installments for those of you who have journeyed with me this far. I don’t know if I’ll be talking about this again or not. Right now, I don’t think so. I think I’ve said what I wanted and needed to say.

I get to close this chapter and start a new one. I don’t know what I’m going to do just yet. It’ll be good whatever it is.

I Love You Mom. Rest easy. Thank you for being my Mother and bringing me into this world. I’m grateful to you for what you have done for me all through out my entire life up until now. Hopefully I’ll remember your lessons and carry them forward. I can’t live your standards and I’m not going to try. Your standards are your own. I can only live mine.

 

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When Cancer Strikes Close To Home

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It’s been at least a week or more since I’ve updated my blog. It’s been even longer since I’ve updated my e-mail list and my Twitter really.

Here’s what’s been going on recently…

First I’d like to start off at the beginning. This would have been around November or December of 2015.

I was working my job as a reader when my Father called me on a Friday night and told me that he needed to talk to me. I asked him what it was about and he said that he would rather tell it to me to my face than do it over the phone.

I knew something was up and I knew it wasn’t good if that was what he wanted to do. I also knew that my Mother was in the hospital at the time. I believe at the time it was because she had blood clots either in her legs, her lungs, or both.

I tried to get my Dad to just tell me what was going on, but he was having none of it. I would have to wait until the next day to find out what was up.

I couldn’t wait, so I called my Mom on her cell phone. She answered and I asked her what was going on.

That was when she told me that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. At that time, it had spread to her liver, her colon, and a few other places in her body.

She went in because she thought there was blood clots going on in her lungs or legs, or both, and found out she had cancer instead.

The doctor’s were optimistic. They thought that surgery and chemotherapy would take care of this particular cancer. And in the beginning, they were right.

She had her ovaries removed and had several treatments of chemotherapy over the next few months, so early to mid 2016, and the chemo killed the cancer. All of her test results came back negative. She appeared to be cured.

About 6 to 8 months later she went back for a follow up visit, only to find out the cancer was back.

She then went through another round of chemotherapy, this time a stronger version of chemo. This particular chemo almost killed her. Luckily she was already in the hospital at the time of the treatment, or she would have never made it there. It was touch and go for about two weeks initially. Would her body recover from the chemo or succumb to it?

She recovered, went through a little physical therapy because of how much the chemo had weakened her and then was initially given a choice: go home and let the cancer do its thing and die, or do another round of this particular chemo and have it kill her outright.

There was another option though. She could go back to the original chemo that wasn’t as strong, but it wouldn’t kill her. It would never “cure” her cancer, it would just hold it in limbo. Keep it in check. She would have to get treatments on and off for the rest of her life, but in theory, she could live a full life and possibly die of old age.

She chose that latter option, and that’s what she had been doing from late 2016 until a few weeks ago.

On September 1st of this year, she went back in to the hospital, she was weak and was thinking that something was wrong with either her gall bladder, or that maybe she was having blood clots in her lungs again as it was hard for her to breathe.

The doctors ran all of the usual tests on the usual areas, looking for any of the usual signs and found nothing physically wrong with her.

The only thing that was off was her blood platelets. They weren’t going back up after her last chemo treatment from a couple months ago. In fact her platelets kept going down.

The doctor wanted to check her bone marrow and see what was going on there. In order to do that her blood platelets needed to be over 50 or higher. She was at 50. Apparently if your blood platelets are at 50 or under and you get a puncture, a cut, or a wound, you can bleed to death. You don’t have enough platelets to create clotting.

So they gave her a transfusion of blood platelets and got her numbers up to 75 and were able to do the procedure. They drilled into a spot in her hip bone and extracted some of her bone marrow and sent it off to the lab to see what was going on.

The preliminary results are back and they aren’t good.

Her stem cells in her bones are damaged. They may be damaged beyond repair. If that is the case, there is nothing the doctors can do for her.

Her options will be to either receive blood platelet transfusions a few times a week, but she will never get better, she will still stay sick. Not much of a quality of life there. Or she can come home and get her affairs in order, or she can go to a center and have hospice come and administer morphine to keep her comfortable until the end comes.

My family and I knew that someday something like this would happen. We knew that the cancer itself or something related to the cancer would be what ultimately ended her life.

I know about this latest procedure she had because again, my Father called me, again while I was doing readings on a Friday night. Just this last Friday night. So three days ago as I publish this.

My Father asked the doctor about an approximate time line from the day that the test was ran until the results come back definitively.  As I write this and post this, I haven’t heard the exact and final analysis. So I’m holding out for a miracle there. But I’m not going to delude myself.

Even knowing that cancer in one way or another is what is going to kill my Mother, and I’ve had a couple of years to prepare for that, it still took the wind out of me when my Father gave me that estimated time line.

Four to six weeks. That’s her time left. That’s what she has remaining.

 

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