My sister lives in Denmark. Skype is an amazing invention: it lets us talk face to face any time we want to! Today she called and reminded me about our father, how his perceived reality colored his world and made him happy.
Here was a man who experienced so much hardship in his life! Living in Russia and being Jewish, going through the war, the Antisemitism, every day's fight to survive and support his loved ones, the immigration to the U.S. and starting life from zero over here. You would think that, he was a bitter and desperate individual. Well, he could be a little pessimistic, after all - he was Jewish. But he could take small joys and turn them into some epic occurrences that he told about on regular basis.
That could get a little annoying. Like the story he told about his miraculous recovery after the bypass (he called it "Bay-pass") surgery.
Dad's surgeon was an old man himself. In fact, he retired right after he operated on dad. Perhaps, his experience of dealing with my father's case was more than he bargained for. He did a good job. I still can't believe that, people can one day have their ribs cracked and their hearts out of the chest cavity and half a month later feel like they've got a new lease on life!
After the surgery, dad went to stay at a convalescent home. We did it because we thought that the nurses there can better look after him. That was a very naive decision. As requested, I went and got a list of dad's medications from his doctor's office. They had at least fifteen different drugs on it, and I warned the nurses a few times: my father did not take all of those! They dismissed me, like I was a gnat in their ears. Two days later, we picked up my dad to bring him to a post-op appointment with a surgeon. He could hardly keep his head up. On the way we had to get off the freeway two times to find a bathroom for him. We were 45 minutes late. The surgeon met us at the door to his office building. He was red as a beet from anger at our tardiness, but as soon as he looked at my dad, he changed his attitude. Upon reviewing the list of medications that the convalescent home dosed my father with, he said: "I wonder, how he is still able to be alive! There are two medications to bring his blood pressure down, two strong pain killers and a bunch more pills the combination of which should make anyone very unlikely to survive! He needs to go to the ER immediately!"
Here I am, telling this story from my point of view! When he told it, dad simply said that he could not even sit straight from weakness, but that his surgeon sent him to his, the surgeon's, private hospital, and the nice nurses there made my father all better! He then was put under the observation for a week or so.
Since I was the one to bring him there and witness all of the above events, it became quite difficult for me to hear my father tell me his version of the story every couple of days. Time to time, the flood gates of my patience would brake, and I would irately tell him that those were just a usual hospital and an ER. Dad was genuinely surprised every time to hear it but, fortunately or unfortunately, he would quickly forget all about the stark truth that disturbed his inner happiness and look for the next opportunity to tell the story of his good fortune.
We went to see him every day. The only problem with this was that my mom and I fought like cat and dog. So, one day we sat in the hospital's waiting room before going to see dad. The nurses told us that he was being transferred to another floor to an overflow room. I guess, that was a room to house patients when there were too many of them.
Mom and I had our normal squabble. I went away to clear my head. When I came back, she already was admitted to dad's new room. It took me some time to find them. Mom was feeding dad pudding, and both of them wore curiously blissful expressions on their faces. When he saw me, my father who was, usually, a really, really nice person assumed a lordly pose and declared: "Hmm, Dina, we need to have a talk!" I had an immediate flashback to the movie Lethal Weapon 2, where a crime boss calls his subordinate in to discuss his mistakes. The poor fellow asks: "Why is there plastic on the floor?" "To make cleaning it easier" - says the crime boss before shooting the guy in the head. Hearing my dad's unusual tone of voice, I fought an impulse to look if there was plastic on the floor! He only asked me to arrange some things for him. Later on, when he told us and everyone within an earshot about his stay in the hospital, I realized what made him and my mom feel and look so self-satisfied. They chose to assume that dad's surgeon provided that wonderful, special room for him as a special favor. I never had a heart to challenge this part of the story!