Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The perfect excuse to not see Elizabethtown

Oh, well. I guess it's fair to say it's more serious than that. I got a call from my mother Monday while I was at work. She wants/ed me to come visit her at a friend's home next weekend that's about halfway between where we live now. I've been fidgety about this, mostly because it's more for her than me. Selfish, whatever. So she calls, and I'm at work, and I don't know. But the call is to tell me my father has pnuemonia. Fluid in his lungs. And my mom's first response was to get him antibiotics and see what could be done, but my father (who's in his early 60's) has been ill for a very long time.

I'm pretty sure, though not positive, the timeline was that after I "graduated" from college I found out that I needed one credit to complete my schooling, the 16mm camera I borrowed to make an independant film broke, and my father was diagnosed within a three month period. When I was twenty, around the time of my 20th birthday in fact, my father was laid off from the job he had for the majority of my life. I'm sure he had it for at least twelve years. I don't know exactly as I was too young. I still have one of his cards from that time. After he was laid off he got another job that didn't particularly suit him, and he spent the next two years awkwardly getting along. And then, things started happening. My father, more than once, ran out of gas and had to call us to pick him up. My father, who I could always count on for a ride whenever wherever. And for a couple months after college I lived at home. And things got worse, compacted by my mother, who made it clear that the family could get by with or without his help. And so my dad was jobless for a while, and he could never adapt to the ways of computers (my mom has also found this especially troubling). And sometime that summer of 98, we realized that what was going on with my father wasn't just ennui, or whatever, but something serious.

A couple trips to the doctor, and it was revealed my father had been suffering minor strokes for a while. One night, while at dinner, my father had one in front of my mom and I. We rushed him to the hospital. Sometime around that time, or perhaps the same night, my father told us that all he really wanted was to die. My father told me and his wife that all he wanted in life was to die.

I moved out at some point, and at the begining of summer in 1999 moved in with some musicians, and by the end of summer had a new job and new digs (I had morning wake up calls, and musicians aren't good for that shit). Shortly thereafter, my mother moved my father into a home. The first one he couldn't stand, but after a waiting list came to a close, he moved into another home. Around this time he started doing charity work (though I think the people there mostly humored him) and began attending church with my brother. Again, in the second effort I think that was mostly to get closer to my brother. My duty, Sunday mornings, was to take my father from Church to his home. I can't remember how long this lasted. I know I was doing it when I was with Autumn and had my own home, or at least, I cut a short film out of the drive to and from while at the new pad (or shortly before I moved into it).

By this point, my father would sometimes drop by on me at work unexpectedly. People I worked with thought he might be homeless. Often I'd take him out to lunch. My father always had a peculiar sense of humor, and he often made jokes, though they were often less funny. Some time before I got laid off my mother moved him into a home in the Dalles, which was out of sight and mind. I'd visit sporadically, and as little as I could. It was a three hour drive back and forth, and seeing him, well he'd get bored after an hour or so. Often they revolved around us taking him out to eat. I remember sitting in a Dairy Queen while my father regaled me with a story of having loved sitting through the Martin Short film Three Fugitives.

After my two year passed on my house, and I knew I wouldn't get gouged for taxes (even now it seems weird that for a spell I owned property) I sold my home, and moved in with one of my closest in Portland as I waited until the end of October to move. I saw my father before I left I think, at least I'm pretty sure. Butsince my move (all of ten months ago), I haven't spoken to my father, nor would I really want to. I don't think he could handle a phone conversation.

And so now we get to the point of it. My father has pnuemonia. and my mom called to ask if it was okay that we didn't go through the whole antibiotics route and just give him morphine and let him ride it out. Which took me a bit to realize was fine by me. Around 2000 my father gave my mother and I legal control for such actions, and he wanted us to not resuscitate him. Perhaps he could get over this pnuemonia, perhaps he will, perhaps he won't. The days become a waiting game. I called my brother shortly after my mom contacted me, and due to him being on the East coast it was the evening and he had a couple of drinks (as I have had typing this). His response was similar to mine: It's a grave responsibility, but... At some point, a long time ago, my father stopped being the man he was, and if that man still exists in some shred in his current vessel he would be horified with the person he is now.

Ultimately, I have had seven years at least to grieve my father's passing. But like watching a child grow, it's been a slow and steady progress, and it has the ability to creep up on you. And so here I am, facing the fact that my father could die any time now, and I'm not crying. I don't know when or for what reason I will lose my proverbial shit. Talking about it is hard. But here I am.

I have, in the past on this blog, talked about what I'm willing and not willing to talk about on this blog, and the main thing I don't want to talk about is the people that I know and my interactions with them. That's mostly because people interpret things differently, and I am no different. Were I to relay a story that involved three of my closest, perhaps we would all have different takes, and mine is no better or worse, you drag girls and sexuality into that equation, what I read on someone might be totally different than someone else. Am I right? Are they right, who fucking cares? Again, it's the balance of all things, who's to say, especially when it's a tentative you were there moment.

But I write this not simply to dig a hole and whisper in the dirt, but in knowing that friends read this. I'm doing all right. And I'm sure I'll be seeing my Portland friends sooner rather than later. Know that I'm doing okay, but it looks like my father is dying. Which is a relief and something of a burden. And there you go.