What distinguishes a real, true family of love and mutual support from all others? Many of us talk a good game. We can talk until we are blue in the face, but inside we must know, if what we have with our significant close ones is real or - pretend. I asked that question myself countless times over the last twenty five years. Mind you, most of the time I just hid: from my own inadequacies, from uncomfortable truths about whether I really trust this way of life that I chose for myself or not. I also avoided dealing with Taka, allowing myself to believe that our and his problems stem from the differences in our cultures and upbringing.
Last year was brutal. My father lived with us for two years.He was eighty nine years old and told us that all he needs to do is to live eleven more years. Despite many problems with his health, he still hung on and was sharp as a. .a.. what's sharp? I'm just checking if you are paying attention! He was O.K.! I was taking it for granted that he was O.K. One morning I came to check on him and found him on the floor. Once again, he lost balance and fell. I made him comfortable and called the paramedics, because I couldn't get him up by myself. They decided to bring him to the ER. It happened a few times before, I wasn't really worried. After checking him in, I went to pick up Sonny from school. When I came back to the ER, a few hours after dad was admitted, the doctors there just realized that he had a bleeding in his brain. I can't imagine, why they didn't check for it earlier, he was brought in after the fall! He started to have symptoms of an intra-cranial edema: grimacing. His arm kept raising up to his face, in the same position. They took him for a surgery. I sat in the lobby from two in the afternoon 'til ten, praying, crying and singing the spiritual songs, sometimes just telling dad to BREATHE. My minister, whom I called, later told the congregation at Sunday Service that he came to the hospital, didn't find me, but had a very meaningful give and take with some other family in the lobby. I'm all for the meaningful conversations, but, this time, I think, I meritted some personal attention from my church! I was, probably, a few seats away from him, singing and crying, so he must've heard me!
When I called Taka, he told me, as if he was making an appointment, that he'll be at the hospital at ten pm, even though he came home around eight. I've learned not to expect any support from him, so it almost didn't bother me then, that he left me alone at such a time. Plus, the surgeon came to talk to me at about the same time as when Taka and Sonny showed up. He said that the operation was successful, although they almost lost dad because of the ventilation problems. Imagine that: after having countless unexplained breathing and coughing problems his whole life, the doctors finally discovered that he had an S-shaped esophagus when he was 89! So, I was happy that dad was O.K., and didn't hold it against anybody that they weren't there for me. My father was out of the woods; he came out of the unconscious state a few times, talked to me and flirted with the nurses, but invariably went back to sleep. Sometimes, I would talk to him, ask questions, and he'd respond really, really softly, or squeeze my hand, so I knew that he was just resting. The surgeon told me the same thing: he'll come out of the sleep when his body heals. Then I noticed that he responded less and that he began to make the same grimaces as when he had a bleed in his brain. I told the nurse and asked the doctor to check him again. They assured me that there was no danger. There was talk of what to do with him after he leaves that place. They made me feel like there was a real possibility that he'll be alright.
On Sunday, I was driving to the hospital when I got a phone call from a nurse in the ICU. My dad had a pneumonia, he was struggling to stay alive. The scene in the ICU was terrible. Dad had an oxygen mask on, but he just wasn't getting any air. With every breath his body would gather up in a torturous attempt to suck some air in. He was not responding to me at all.
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