This is just a random post about something I need to get off my chest…
When I was younger, I was daddy’s little girl. My dad would put me on his shoulders as he coached my brothers’ little league baseball team, he’d blow-dry my hair as I sat on the sink (because only daddy did it correctly) and he’d sing “Oh Donna” from La Bamba with me.
We moved to Miami from NJ when I was about to turn 6 and there wasn’t much of a change in how close we were. Everyone in my house smoked cigarettes for as long as I can remember, and I’ve hated it just as long. When I got older, I remember my dad driving me to school and he just HAD to light up before I got out of the car. I used to be so embarrassed when kids in school would ask me if I was the one who smoked. Even to this day, I’ll catch him smoking in the house and it causes a rift because he lies about it.
Now there are a lot of things that have happened over the years that I won’t discuss here, but they are things that have placed a large wedge in our relationship. I started to say I had daddy issues as a joke because I felt my father didn’t care about my brothers and I the way he did about injured veterans he’d come across. My dad is a Vietnam Vet, and I’ve always been proud of that. He started working with a veterans committee at work (before he retired) and it consumed him. I’d get annoyed because all he wore was a Veteran t-shirt, a Veteran hat, he put random Veteran stickers on his car window. He’d watch war movies and videos on YouTube of people singing the National Anthem for hours on end. I really felt like I lost him.
In recent months, he started becoming very confused, and his driving skills diminished drastically. It was a shocking sight if he was out of his recliner, or showered for that matter. I would walk by him and roll my eyes at the lazy, empty person he’d become.
Now my guilt for doing this eats at me, as we discovered two weeks ago that my father has been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer and hepatic encephalopathy. In addition to that, he has blood clots in his esophagus that could rupture at any moment. He’s also had diabetes for years, so it’s not just one thing that has been causing this drastic change in personality.
My dad wasn’t just choosing to sleep all day and it wasn’t lack of communication and people interaction that was causing the confusion. It was a mixture of things that were unknown and undetected by our doctor. Now, at 31 years old, I’m forced to realize things my father might miss. Things like me getting my Bachelor’s Degree that I’ve been working on for years, falling in love, getting married, having kids. Not that I really thought about getting married, but now that it’s possible he won’t be around to walk me down the aisle…it something that bothers me.
I’ve avoided thinking about it and talking about it because I’m not sure how to fix a relationship with someone just because I know they’re sick. It seems hypocritical. All I can do is try to stay positive and be there in the present. Tomorrow he has an appointment with an oncologist to see how far along the cancer is, and whether any treatment will help prolong his life. Praying for good news.