Saturday, June 1, 2019

The Empty Rooms

To those who might check in once in a while to see if I'm still absent, this has been a longer absence than usual.

In August 2016, while we were living in Nevada, my father was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. There was surgery due to extreme pain that discovered it (Nevada is where washed-out doctors go to practice, and he had complained of stomach pains to the one he had, but that doctor laughed it off and just prescribed more pills), followed by chemotherapy sessions, and then back to Southern California, to Ventura this time, where there was more chemotherapy, ER visits, three hospital visits, and at the beginning of this year, the decision to enter hospice, not least because we had been going at it alone for two years, all of us, and hospice could at least provide a level of support that was crucial, because his body could no longer handle the chemotherapy. In that same month, we had to have Tigger, our 15-year-old miniature pinscher/Italian greyhound, and Kitty, our 13-year-old Italian greyhound/terrier, put down, as they were elderly and desperately ailing. Tigger likely had kidney failure, as there were many times when I'd be walking him, and he would lift his leg, even though he had already peed before and had nothing to give. He thought there was more. Kitty's joints were causing her so much pain, but even with that, she still often dashed in her way to the side of my recliner, wanting to come up and cuddle with me. It was devastating when we had to let them go, particularly because the night we had to do it was the night my father came home from the hospital the second time (he had been in the hospital once the year before). I stayed home with him because he wasn't back in our orbit yet, and my mother and my sister went to take our dogs to the all-night vet that was nearby.

Unfortunately, it wasn't only the dogs. I'd like to cancel the rest of this year because on Wednesday, May 22nd, my father died. The end of his battle with cancer. He died with us remaining three surrounding him. Also, I was born on March 21st. My sister was born on March 23rd. He was incommunicado in that hospital bed in the living room by the time it happened, but he was still very much there. He couldn't talk, his eyes were closed, he was sleeping most of the time, but it's apparent to us that he chose the day, or, rather, the night: the 22nd. He wanted to be between me and my sister.

We still have so much to do, a sudden new world to inhabit, to figure out what we do without our patriarch, without our dogs. We had only just begun to reluctantly accept that our dogs were gone when this happened, and it made it fresh all over again. Three in one year. In the immediate aftermath a little over a week ago, I wondered if anyone had discovered a way to go to sleep afterward and then wake up fully-formed in the next phase of life with everything good already arranged.

Alas, here we are, our apartment too quiet. He had a presence, a personality that filled a room, even in his silence. And we've been getting e-mails from his former fellow teachers, principals, assistant principals, and so many others who remember him fondly. There's been an outpouring of support from students and staff at his final high school, the one he said was the teaching job he had waited for for 40 years, the one he loved the most. He wanted to be at Graduation so badly at the end of this school year that we're going to go in his place, as they plan to honor him during the ceremony.

Still so much to do, so much to go through. I may write more about him, the fond memories I have (he was the only one of us that you could drop into a town he knew absolutely nothing about, and he would be quickly be able to find his way around), and in fact, I might have already in past posts, but I also plan to get back to writing more often. Not just in this blog, not just my book reviews for BookBrowse. I have an 11-page ideas file in Word that I really should start cracking, novels I want to write, poems, children's books. My father died. My mother's getting older. No more time to waste.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry about Tigger and Kitty. How awful to lose both of them at the same time, with Dad so sick. It's lovely that so many people have good memories of him.