Saturday, November 11, 2006

Heart of the Matter

It is Saturday afternoon.

It is raining.

It is grey and clouded and dark outside, overcast even in mid afternoon.

In otherwords, it is miserable outside.

Yesterday, after agreeing to be transferred by ambulance, my father insisted that I personally drive him north from Mount Vernon to Vancouver. Through torrential downpours and long weekend traffic. Through the border. Twice. It was exhausting. And that was just the traffic part...

For a week now I have been arranging and rearranging my schedule in order to visit my father and address some of his needs. It has cost me a week's worth of work, but what else would a good son do?

What is a good son?

I don't know...

After admitting my father at almost eight in the evening at St. Paul's I returned the next morning to visit.

In the relatively short span of fourteen hours my father is already being referred to by the nursing staff on the fifth floor of the St. Paul's Cardiac unit as "Mr. Angry".

I laugh, but not without a little self-aknowledgement. Once, while working as a Sales Manager with a large crew of salespeople under me, I was referred to by the sales staff behind my back as "Mr. Angry". I had no compunctions about yelling at people who weren't meeting their quotas or doing their job. I had no trouble firing the bottom performers. In fact, I had no trouble firing people on the spot if I thought they didn't give a damn about their job or their performance. By the same token, if they did care, I would carry a slow-starter for months until I thought I had squeezed every ounce of potential out of them. I myself have been carried a few times in my life over some of the rough patches...

My father? I am not sure he is carrying any of the people who are trying to help him. He is angry and scared and not sure what is going to happen next. But with congestive heart failure and diabetes and high blood sugar and kidney failure and liver failure it is not too hard to draw a few conclusions. With every question the doctors ask him, my father equivocates and shades his answers. He is not bullshitting anyone anymore. Least of all, himself. Or the medical staff. Neither he nor they are stupid. The truth of course is that every decision and choice he has made over the past two deacdes after his first heart atack have led him irrevocably to this place. He is in the current position he finds himself in because he chose to be here. That is a tough fucking nut to swallow.

He ate too much and drank too much and didn't exercise enough and didn't lose enough weight. He is fat and out of shape. He didn't manage his diabetes. He slowly and surely drove himself to this point.

Now it is his "Come to Jesus" moment.

Every time he comes up with some feeble excuse, I feel like screaming at him, "What the fuck are you talking about!? You brought this on yourself!"

My father reminds me of the marathon runners who do clinic after after clinic after clinic and wonder why they don't get any faster in their marathons. Initially I offered endless encouragement. At this stage I feel cruel and heartless.

Want to get faster in the marathon?

Lose weight, tubby...

Train harder on the hills, you pussy...

Run more every week, you lazy seducer-of-the-canine....

(Stop fucking the dog).

Step up to the plate during the marathon, nancy-boy and accept that a negative-split and the last ten kilometres are going to hurt like Hell...

In other words, take responsibility for your life!

Stop being in denial!

But of course, I never actually say these things. I try to be as diplomatic as possible and offer the kindest form of tough love I know how.

But for my father I fear it is too late. I am not sure he has too many more marathons or recoverys left in him.

He has no time left for denials.

He only has time left for the cold hard facts.

The truth, as it is, such as it is, the way it is.

And who ever wants the cold hard facts?

Or the cold hard truth?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As they say, "It's easier to die than change."

2:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good writing. Good story. Where will it end?

It is written somewhere, but not so that we will ever know -- until it happens.

Just remember -- or tell your pops: "We are little knots of habit floating in a sea of freedom."

3:03:00 PM  

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