My dad is in the hospital with level 4 kidney cancer. He’s in his 70s. He started having health complications a few months ago. At first he didn’t even tell me he had cancer, so I’m not sure when that diagnosis was made.
I’m going to see him today, it’s been years since I’ve seen him. Why? Well… gas is expensive and there isn’t really public transportation to Conyers. I have an aunt taking me there.
When I got the message that he was in the hospital, he apparently didn’t expect I would want to visit. Ouch… We had a little spat because he felt I was being irresponsible about my taxes and was extremely insistent and persistent about that view. I wasn’t really, and as much as I didn’t want to cause a spat, there wasn’t much I could do about it, my pride always wins when it comes to unjust accusations. Afterwards, I was a little worried about talking to him because I don’t have my new job yet. I didn’t want him to worry. I considered lying about not having a job at all. I shouldn’t have been worrying about all that though. Worrying about that has left him feeling alone. At least I’ll be able to tell him I have an interview today.
No one wants to lose a father, but I’ve been preparing for it awhile. I am an advocate of de Grey’s life extension research, but I knew it wouldn’t be here in time for my parents. I educated them about cryonics, but neither opted for it. As the time draws nearer, I ask myself what is important.
I guess what the kicker is, is that you always wish they were going to see a few more things. I know he wanted to see me get married, but I’m just dating. I know he would want to see our grandchild, but that’s years into the future. I always wanted to give back what he gave me growing up when I got a good post-college job. There… were many things that I hoped would turn out differently….
I always wanted to write down some of his story.
Dad has seven brothers and sisters. They grew up in an Presbyterian orphanage here in Georgia. Dad has always been an agnostic. He joined the Air Force when he left the orphanage and played a lot of poker and got into trouble.
He worked as a plumber for practically his whole life. In fact, his anniversary with my mom and the anniversary of his job was the same day. He was a hard worker and exerted himself physically every day. He cared about doing enough pushups to stay strong. He ate so much food, it was ridiculous. His primary activity outside work was tending his garden. His was the best garden. Our dogs would loyally trot about him as he would survey it. I will always be a veggie snob and have always associated tomatoes with my father. They are like his totem in my life. No matter how fancy the grocery store, highfalutin the restaurant, ain’t nobody ever beat my dad’s tomatoes.
He was always watching the news, PBS, but only a few TV shows and movies. He was picky. We only went to one movie in the theater our entire time as a family, we saw one of the Star Wars movies. He loved science, and he felt there was a huge significance in circuit logic. When my mom left my junior year of high school, dad took care of me from then on and I learned most about him, him drinking his homemade wine and talkin’ away while the TV was on.
If there is any way we activate our genetic code through will, I did. I wanted to be just like my dad growing up. I thought that meant being smart, skeptical, strong, and inventive. It meant pushing yourself to work hard and beat all obstacles. “When the going get’s rough, the tough get tougher,” he always says. It meant not caring what anybody else thought. Dad likes the word “eccentric”. It meant being honest. He provided me an enviable upbringing in many respects, within our means.
I love my dad. I am preparing myself to see him. I hope for the strength to be there for him in this time.