Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Where I'm Calling From

My father is dying. It could be weeks, months, or days or hours. We don't know.

I have to admit, I am cringing every time the phone rings and I see their number on caller ID.

Since September he has been going downhill. A year ago he was strong. He was the one who wheeled me in the hospital. He helped the nurses turn me over to change my bed. That man is gone. Since then he has dropped four inches in height and lost over 40 lbs from not wanting to eat. He's wasting away in front of all of us.

This is changing the whole family dynamic. With my dad unable to be the patriarch, my mother has slipped into that role, with my sister not far behind. I don't have a say in anything. Which is Ok with me- both my mother and sister have very dominate personalities, and I have always been more introverted then them.

What isn't good is the medication issue keeps coming up, raring it's ugly head. My mother and sister want me on medication. I just want to be left alone with that, I'm still trying to detox from being on psych meds for over half my life. I'm still having problems urinating, and sleeping. I really want to try to see what will happen if I go med free.

I've never felt so alone. I talk to the cat, I talk to my best friend on the phone. I dread seeng my dad- it's so heartbreaking to see him the way he is, so fragile, but on the other hand, if I don't see him, I don't want to have any regrets. But I'm scared. I've lost grandparents. I've lost friends. I even had to put down a beloved cat, which was a hard thing. But I never thought- really thought my parents were going to die. I always thought they would just be there.

My dad is the one who taught me how to ride a bike. He was a very big man, and it wasn't beneath him to play tea party with my sister and I- his big hands could barely hold the delicate cups of invisible tea. My father taught us how to throw a ball, and at the same time, to introduce his girls to opera, took us to the Met to see a production of the Student Prince. My father was the one who read me bed time stories, and as I would find out later, was the tooth fairy. My father taught me so much about living, and now he is showing me how to die with dignity.

I don't know if I will continue to blog every day- I find my writing goes in spurts. Some days it's like diarrhea of the pen, other days I am as sterile as the Waste Land. I suppose this is the way it will be for the next little bit. My moods keep fluctuating like the tides. And I hang on, trying to get out of bed every day and visit my father. Because I never know now whether the phone will ring in the middle of the night, it will be the call we all dread to get. And because I am my father's daughter, I will survive it.


Adam Glenn said...

I really wish I could say something that would make it easier, but sometimes life isn't easy and words fail. Good luck as you take care of your dad and yourself. I hope everything turns out ok and that you can find peace.

susan said...

Hi Adam,

I will be ok. It's something we all have to go through.

Natalie said...

Susan, I'm so sorry to hear what you're going through, my thoughts are with you. Your dad sounds like a truly wonderful man. Indeed, you will survive this, but I know it hurts like hell.

I just lost my grandmother a few days ago, after visiting her for the last time just a week ago. Death is never easy, even when we know it's coming. I can feel her cheering me on from the other side...but the pain is still very real.

Do what you need to do, and continue his fighting spirit in your own battle. I'm sure he wouldn't want your mother and sister dictating your treatment and right to wellness. You can do this, you can follow your truth...because you are his daughter, and because you are YOU.

Anonymous said...

Sitting with you whenever you need it. Be as gentle with yourself as possible. *hugs*


Brain Static said...

Hi, I just came across your blog a few days ago.

I wanted to let you know that I am going through something very similar right now, and I can definitely relate. My father is dying from lung cancer. I feel exactly the same about visiting/not visiting my dad; there are times when it's just too difficult to watch him deteriorate, but I fear feeling guilty later about the missed time and opportunity. You are not alone! The only way I feel any better about it is by trying to remind myself that it's a very human reaction to have, and that I'm not the only one.

yobluemama said...


I was fighting to get my son out of the hospital when my Dad died in 2004. I still miss him--every day. I am who I am in no small part because of the man he was.

I can still remember when I was a little girl and I knew that my Dad was the strongest man in the world, and it seemed like he knew everybody. I cherish my memories of innocent belief in his super human abilities. Even more, I cherish the memory of the very last time I saw him, and held his hand. I remember how it felt so different; soft and smooth, no longer strong and calloused. Being able to be present and knowing there are no words left unsaid; knowing that my Dad and I have a connection that remains unbroken--because it is love that connects us.

Beginnings and endings are things I struggle over---I am so grateful for being present to hold his hand and telling my Dad how much I loved him. It has become a priceless gift treasured in many moments since---

Love makes the impossible possible.
Being present brings awareness, and the opportunity to receive the priceless gift of a memory to treasure...

Love you Susan!

Mary LA said...

Sending my love to you, take care and go gently my dearest Susan.

Anonymous said...


Your strength makes your father proud, I'm sure, every day that you manage to get out of bed and visit him. He knows how challenging that must be for you.

Your description of your father was so beautiful and heartbreaking all at once. I know that you are thankful to have a father like that.

I will be thinking of you.


ps- I hear you on the detox; I did it for a year (after only being on one med for a year). I know it's hard (and this is easy to say and probably completely out of line), but try to ignore your mother and sister's opinions on how to run your life- at least for now- there's enough stressors/triggers right now.

Ruth said...

Take care of you while you are going through this trying time. cyber hugs: ((((Susan))))

Jen Daisybee said...

Dear Susan,
I'm so sorry your dad is dying. I have a close friend whose father passed away last weekend after a very long, and very serious battle with numerous health problems. I don't feel that my friend came to grips with what was happening before it happened, because she was still talking like it was not going to happen right up until the very end. I think you are strong to even be able to say the words, and I'm sure it is very hard to do that.

My friend visited her dad all the time before he died - for about a year and for the years before that she had a very close relationship with him and saw him every week, so I don't think she can feel guilty for not seeing him enough, but even she has said she didn't visit him enough. This is normal, to think this, I'm sure. But you are doing the best you can, so don't feel guilty if you cannot do anything you cannot do.

I think you should be proud of yourself for going to visit your dad even with all of your health difficulties. I don't think your mother or your sister, though I'm sure they care about your best interest, should be allowed to determine whether or not you take medication. Hold on during this hard time.

Barb Black said...

Hi Susan, I went through this with my own father nearly 30 years ago... and again with others since. There is no easy way through it.

Except... just keep going, and be gentle with yourself.

Writing helped me a lot. I started my blog when I lost my beloved four years ago. I don't know where I'd be if I hadn't.

Here was my take on it just a week ago: http://blackinkpad.blogspot.com/2011/04/m-is-for-mourning.html

Wishing you peace...

Southernbelle said...


I just saw this...I am so sorry. I know what it's like, I lost my own dad in 2008 and I never thought it would happen...I guess as children we think our parents are immortal and will always be there to take care of us. It's hard, but you'll make it. I know how proud your dad must be of you, and hard as it is, you WILL get thru this. Just don't forget to take care of you too! With tons of love and hugs, Patti

Anonymous said...

Susan, I hear you. Although I hate to think, it seems my Dad is dying, and I am totally distraught!A

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