Not the Draft I was working on Today
I’m loving putting bits of what has been wanting to be written for years into Medium. I had three different drafts for yesterday and today on three different topics. (Loosely translated, that means I’m actually writing instead of wishing I were) Then it happened.
Yesterday my Dad had cardiac surgery. Not the awful kind, allegedly. The ‘oh this is a quick procedure and it will give you more quality of life’ kind. Supposed to be.
Even before a hospital killed my Mum not quite three years ago (and yes, they did and no, there was nothing legal to be done about it) I’ve been, oh let’s be kind and say cynical and skeptical about the medical industry. Note the difference between the profession, though I have reservations about that too, but there are some doctors and nurses and caregivers who really are brilliant at what they do and really care… and the industry which is… I have no words fit to print… sorry.
So the surgery yesterday. Supposed to be not such a big deal even though cardiac is always scary. It was a big deal. My sister is there with him and we were phoning and texting for hours during the pre-op check-in, the prep, the w…a…i…t…i…n…g and during what should have been a two hour procedure.
At about 90 minutes in, one of the OR personnel came out to talk to my sister. Rushed and frowning. Not good. My Dad was bleeding out on the table. They had had to open his chest and were performing, not just the hybrid maze ablation scheduled for today, but BOTH procedures he would have had to have over the next several weeks and then some. They were not sure of how things were going to go and wanting us to know that it would take another 2–3 hours of surgery to try to make the needed repairs if all went well.
They didn’t make a mistake this time. Well, at least they haven’t yet. Things ‘went well’. My Dad is a very strong and healthy almost-ninety-something with, as it turns out, a very weak heart. Much weaker than all of the doctors he’s been seeing for a few years had let on or knew of. Probably knew of, as he is also a stoic and irascible Scot, who feels his physical issues are his own, thank you very much, and no one else’s business. Heavy sigh.
Interesting. Weak heart. Well, yes, if anyone had asked me about his personality, his ‘issues’ instead of his strengths. Weak heart. Not able to deal with ‘mess’ in pretty much any form. Although he dealt with so much more than that in the two years of my Mum’s post-hospitalization torture nightmare, insisting on being her primary caregiver although he had no idea what he was doing. Not able to deal with or express pain in any form. Still grieving her absence, not knowing why she left and he did not. Ticking off his bucket list items one by one to give himself a reason to live.
Was he (and is he still) a good Father? I don’t know how to answer that. He provided for us, certainly. He traveled all the time, and, according to my ‘other sister’ (you know the one) he was never there for us… blah blah blah. I have never felt that way. He was living the life he wanted to live and supporting a wife and four children along the way. I am and have always been, proud of him. A good man. I hear they’re hard to find. That might be factual but I don’t believe it’s true.
He came home from all over the world with photos, stories, items that were not just souvenirs but had more stories that went with them. I’ve been after him for years to write them down. Some of them I remember, many I do not. I do remember his delight in showing them to us, his joy in other cultures, other lands, the on-going adventure.
I remember them when they were twenty-somethings, my parents. I remember when they played together and with me. Before things became overwhelming and play got lost in providing for a family and trying to maintain integrity in a world that wasn’t wearing it. He has integrity, my Dad. He has helped people all over the world to learn how to be in integrity in business. Not easy. He started an international executive MBA program in Asia and Eastern Europe and has an actual Russian fan club. He has lived the adventure he wanted to live.
Last year the cardiologists pissed him off when they told him he could no longer ‘fly jets’. He had been flying the laser dogfight games (with a top gun co-pilot of course) at a nearby air field for fun and because my Mum had made him give up his pilot’s license years ago when her brother died in a crash. This, he was doing because it gave him a reason to live. The doctors said his heart couldn’t pull 6 G’s anymore. He went one more time anyway just because and to prove them wrong.
That probably helped to precipitate yesterday’s event, even though it was three months ago. I think he wanted to go out doing something he loved. I think he still does. The day before he checked into the cardiac ward he sang in a local ‘old farts’ concert. They don’t call it that, by the way, but... He had a blast, even though he had to suck on oxygen during intermission.
If he had not been the way he is, staying true to himself and his stoic, really uptight integrity, I would not have had a role model for many of the adventures I’ve had. A few years ago, while I lived in the Rockies, he would phone and laugh saying ‘hey, mountain lady’ and I would reply ‘hey, mountain guy’. (He lives in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.) Each of us grinning because we were living somewhere that made no sense but that we loved no matter what anyone else thought. (Might be time to move out of the mountains, Dad. Sorry. The altitude has become a problem.)
Am I glad he is still breathing, albeit hopped up on so many drugs he can’t sleep and won’t shut up and is driving the cardiac care unit batshit? Of course. I wish he weren’t in pain and I really wish he didn’t have to be on the damn drugs because it has already put an entire medical staff and my sister over the edge.
What I truly feel, is that I hope he will listen to what he really wants. What next adventure calls him, in or out of this weak-hearted body formed by many decades of really living. I felt my Mum and his departed brother and sister there with him all day yesterday. They keep bugging me, asking me to tell him things. I may be psychic but I draw the line at being an owl (complaint taken from Harry Potter). I do pass some things on, however. More heavy sighing.
This recovery will be brutal. His body is tired now. He has the will. He has won many such battles already. I know that the Infinite will help him find his way. I know that what I might wish for him is unimportant. What matters to him is what will manifest for him. What I hold in my heart is my honor and appreciation and love for what he was, what he is and what he may become.
And for you as well, any of you who may have taken the time to read this.
He will be honored, as am I.