Well....it's stage IV.
I had to get up and walk away just over typing that.
Dad got his feeding tube and chemo port a few weeks ago, and is doing pretty well with the tube. Mom says he's gained a few pounds already, so that's awesome. He starts chemo tomorrow, and will be going in to the clinic once every two weeks for a four hour treatment, then taking home a 48 hour pump for additional treatment on top of it. So far, the doctors have decided to not do radiation. They did, however, sit down and talk life expectancy with my folks. Without the chemo he would only have three months left. With chemotherapy he has eight to eighteen months.
I've been trying to make myself sit down and type that out for over a week now, but I just couldn't. I've been sitting here at the computer trying to bring myself to "say" it for forty minutes. But how do you find the right words? There are none.
I was talking with a friend on Saturday and she asked me how I was doing with all of this. "It's like a really bad reality show," I told her. One that I can't change the channel on or turn off the TV. Most of the time it's just business as usual around here, and I feel somewhat disconnected from it all. It's been four years since the last time I was in Washington and had any time with my dad. We both hate talking on the phone. We're both incredibly private people when it comes to touchy feely stuff. So there's that natural disconnect that this is happening in somebody else's reality, and I am aware of it. Just like watching a crappy TV show. Then it all comes rushing in again and again, that this isn't just somebody else's reality, it's also mine. He is my and my brothers' dad. He is my mother's husband. He is my children's granddad. He is somebody personal to me, and this is our reality. In eight to eighteen months time, hopefully even LONGER, I am going to lose the first man that I ever had in my life.
One of the ways I cope is to hold on to one good thing a day. One good memory of him as my dad.
Today: I moved out for the first time when I was 18, right after I graduated. On the day that my mom drove me to Portland, my dad came into my bedroom early in the morning before he left for work. As I woke, he told me to keep my eyes closed. He gave me a big kiss on my forehead, then held me close for a few minutes in one of his wonderful dad hugs. As he rested his cheek on the top of my head, I could feel the tears that he didn't want me to see. At that moment I had absolutely no doubt of how much my dad loves me.
And a bonus: We had a rare combination of a warm day without wind on Saturday, so we took the opportunity to clean out the garage and finally move boxes to the storage shed. I made a point of searching for the box that had old photos in it, and WIN - finally found it. So on Sunday I went through and dug out the photos I have of my dad. I ALSO found the letters that he wrote to me when I was in Basic Training. Let me tell ya something.... if you haven't met my dad, he's a bit of an oddball. But dammit, he's a wise oddball.
Here's his first letter. The oddball shows up more in letters that I'll share later.
18 Dec 1995
Greetings Fair Daughter;
there you sit in sunny San Antonio (Lackland) about to approach your first real holiday away from home. Cheer up - we do miss you.
Is it anything like you thought basic would be like? Probably not. It's the job of the T.I's to break you down and make your life absolutely miserable. It'll only last 2 or 3 weeks and then the T.I's will start showing that they do have a few human traits. By the end of the six weeks you'll probably even think they are even kinda decent.
Anyway, the Air Fart doesn't try to break you physically, but mentally. They need to know if you can function mentally under pressure. Anybody can get shot at and dive into a fox hole but not everyone can or needs to fix a multi-million dollar plane while being shot at. Just hang in there. When you grow old and grey like your mother (oops!) you can look back on these times and they will probably seem just as bad as you think they are now. But you will survive and be able to laugh about the whole experience.
Thanks for the 5:30 AM call on a SUNDAY. Oh well, it was nice to hear your voice once I woke up. You scared your mom and I some when we first saw the time, then when we knew you were safe we were OK. Were you ordered to call at that time. If so, that's soooo nice of the AF.
OK, some quick news from the homefront. Still gray, overcast and wet. Just our typical, beautiful, December weather. (Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Jun, Oct, Nov)
Mom and I did some shopping for the boys Sat. They probably will be disappointed but they have to grow up sometime. Santa Clause love is not quantity, but a love that can't be measured by material things. I'll let them write you about they recieved from Santa.
There was just enough snow in the mountains for Tony to get his first training classes in. I took him to Marty's Sat morning for a ride up and he stayed overnight. We went up Sunday and picked him up. I wanted to wait until May or June, but your mom wanted him back sooner. Go figure. Tony also got his new snowboard out of hock so he got to use it.
Brice is home on vacation for the holidays so he got to sleep in. I got up this morning and his light and radio were on. Seems he watched a scary movie last night and was afraid to turn the light out. (12 years old!)
Mom wants to know if you can read this? (*BARELY!*) Too bad, at least I write something. I'll let her do the envelope, OK.
My hads getting tired so until next time.
Love, Hugs, Kisses, and very proud of you.
P.S. Rmember, TEAMWORK will get you through.
dad, Dad, Dad, Dad.
Check out that 'stache....