Monday, October 22, 2012

Second Chances

My dad and I

Can I write candidly about this without completely hurting someone's feelings?  The heart can be a very delicate organ at times like these.  I am not sure that I can but I will try to anyway.  It is, after all, as much of a part of my story as anyone else's.  As I sat there staring down at the hands that had just held my father's temporarily non-beating heart, all I could think about was second chances.  Second..thump-thump..chances.  Second..thump-thump..chances.  Second..thump-thump..chances.  The heart surgeon's words were little more than rubbery sounding background noises as my own heart beat wildly against the words "second chances" and my eyes focused on those hands.  Something tells me that I could pick that doctor out of a lineup based solely upon the appearance of his long, lean fingers.  His gold wedding band slightly embedded in the skin of his ring finger, his short well-manicured nails.  But his face, probably not his face.  I was not paying any attention to his face or even his words, for that matter.  It was his hands that captured my full attention and all I was capable of doing in that moment was memorizing them, not necessarily on purpose, but because they had held something that I was born out of, something that has held me since the moment I was even considered.  My father's heart newly quadruply bypassed and cleared of as much plaque as humanly possible and then placed gingerly back inside of his chest to hopefully, prayerfully beat for another day.  Second chances.

Almost two weeks ago, my dad suffered a "minor" heart attack.  A heart attack, ironically, that ended up saving his life because when the doctors performed an angiogram they discovered that my father needed to have quadruple bypass surgery in order for his heart to continue pumping.  At first, I was numb, and then I was scared to death that I might lose him but finally, I prayed.  I pleaded, I bargained, I rationalized, I cajoled, I bartered until finally, something quieted the voice inside of my busy, whirling mind demanding that I stop.  And when I stopped, when I took a breath, when I listened, I heard a voice, presumably what I immediately assumed was The voice of God and that voice calmly yet firmly said, "If I wanted to take him now, Debra, he would no longer be here."  It was in that moment that I knew that my dad was being given a second chance.  It was then that I began to believe that he would make it through the very difficult surgery and recovery.  But it was also then that I understood that beyond all of that, there would be no guarantees.  It might not have been my father's time but a second chance will definitely require some significant lifestyle changes.  One of his doctors straight out told me that if my father does not change his ways, he will die.  I appreciate people who do not skirt around the truth.  I am a sensitive soul but surprisingly tough as nails and I do not like surprises, especially since my little brother dropped dead on us only four short years ago without any warning.

Here is where things get somewhat dicey.  My father was released from the hospital yesterday and although he is regaining his physical strength daily, he still will not speak to anyone on the telephone.  This includes me.  I am not sure if this is a rational or an irrational decision for he is back to running his business via email but he has absolutely no desire to speak to or see anybody right now.  My step-mother texted me to tell me that my father is repeating the words, "NO VISITORS" like a mantra.(insinuating that this also includes me)  This does not surprise me because when I arrived at the ICU to spend some time with my dad the day after his surgery, there was a handwritten note next to his room number on the checkin sheet that specifically stated that "only wife and sister-in-law" were allowed to visit him.  Sister-in-law...Not wife and daughter, but wife and sister-in-law.  They did end up letting me in after speaking with my dad's nurse but I will not even venture to guess what the hell that was about.  And my step-mother, whom I have known since I was sixteen years old and who readily admits that she has been with my father for over forty years(which would have made me ten and my brother four and my father a very married man), professes to love me.  I am too exhausted to even try to muddle through the feelings of another woman who somehow believes that a close relationship between her husband and his daughter somehow diminishes a man's ability to love his wife, first and foremost.  I have lived out that story for my entire life with my own mother and frankly, it truly bores the hell out of me now.  My dad lives two hours away from me and unlike the first eight days of this episode, I cannot completely drop my own life and spend my days waiting around in a hotel room for the couple of hours that I can spend with my father each day.  Of course, immediately after his heart attack and surgery and for the days until he was placed into the transitional care unit, there was no place else on earth that I would have even considered being, but I cannot continually put my own life on hold.  So, I wait.  And pray more.  And I will email him later because I know that he will respond to that, however briefly.  And then, in a week or so, Mark and I will take the drive out to Palm Springs whether he likes it or not because truthfully, it isn't really all about him, or my step-mother, or what he says that he does not want because I am his daughter, his only child.  I know the possibility that we could have lost him was real.  I know that the possibility that we could still lose him is also real but getting a bit more remote with every passing day.  I do not know what his plans are but I have some very nagging feelings in the center of my gut about that.

This is about second chances.  This is about decisions and beliefs and choices.  He can stay after living what he has been through, or, he can go...soon.  I think I already know what God's feelings about that are.  I know what my feelings are.  Mark's feelings. All of our Angel Daughter's feelings.  I still need my father.  In my heart, I am still a small child who believes that her daddy will always be the strong, brilliant, vibrant man who has all of the answers.(well, most of them, anyway)  But I am also a woman who knows that second chances come with both responsibility and a price.  So here we stand.  No bullshit, I will stand by my father in whatever he decides.  I will not nag him, berate him, badger him or judge him.  I will only hope and continue my conversation with God because sometimes, that is the only thing that is within our power to do.

I hope that you are all well and that life is good:)  I have some catching up to do and I promise to update again very, very soon.  Thank you for checking in on us and for sticking with me.


Miss A said...

I'm sorry. For the fear you experience, the thought of losing your father, the realization that he is mortal. I'm also sorry that he's hurting you, though I'm sure he doesn't mean to, you are his child. I am sorry that his wife isn't insistent of his talking to and seeing you, his daughter and I hope she sees you as an ally more than anything.
I am with you on the whole 'bored' feeling. I pray that he heals and takes care of himself.
Hugs, I am often thinking about you.

Ness said...

Debbie, Roger had an aortic valve replacement with a pig valve as well as a double bypass in 2003. I saw these same personality changes in him. He didn't want to be around anyone that might remind him of being at the edge of death (we had trouble getting him off the bypass machine in surgery) I was told this was a type of depression and to roll with it. Something like Roger needed to assert his manhood/strength/the head of our couple, etc. I didn't mollycoddle him and I did insist with keeping followup appointments, walking at the mall, etc. It was very hard for me. I am the bleeding heart. I want to fix things. I don't know how old your dad is but Roger is 76 and besides the congestive heart failure continues on with his life, going places, baking, etc.

We found Roger's heart blockage in 1995 in the middle of his colon surgery when his heart started acting up on the table. We consider that a God send because without that surgery we would have never known.

I felt something was up with you and have prayed for strength for you and the Angel family.

I like your plan to go and see him on his turf in a couple of weeks. You have a very vested interest...this is your dad, grandfather to your children and as a businessman he knows that you face up to the tough stuff and move on. I pray he will do this.

I am here 24/7 for you and will continue my prayers. Always, ALWAYS go with your will never fail you. Love you dear sister.

Angella said...

This is a hard time, worrying about your dad, but not able to be there at his side, and not being able to do the next best thing either, which is to hear his voice. I'm glad you and Mark are driving up to see him. In the meantime just keep letting him know how much he means to you via email, and I wonder if sharing those beautiful images of you and your dad might be a good thing, too. That photo of you dancing with your dad is just fabulous. And how you look like your beautiful daughters, or rather, they like beautiful you!

Sending love and prayers for your family in this time. I do believe your dad will come through this and be back to his old self soon.

Jessie said...

um...well i don't do like the god stuff or anything but i know that people have been telling me lately that the only person i have control of is me. i dont know if that works here but i need to tell you that.

Laura said...

Hello dear one... I've been thinking of you and your dad... not knowing about this latest wrinkle. I do know that sometimes after a heart attack (and/or heart surgery) a person can sometimes become depressed and SOMETIMES depression doesn't look like sadness but busyness, avoidance... especially avoidance of the people one loves the most... and that is a mask for fear... because not only did you almost lose him... he almost lost you too.

anyway, I hold you close to my HEART my friend and I'm glad those conversations with God are helping you.

We are gathering in The Healing Womb this week if you are interested in joining our meditation healing circle via freeconference. I'd love to feel your presence on the line. You know you are always welcome to be part of this group of women healing breath by breath.

Ginny said...

Hi Debra,

I am so sorry to hear about your dad. I almost lost my dad twice, so I can relate. He too, didn't want to see me. It was temporary but hurtful none-the-less. I almost wondered if it was feeling ashamed because "he got himself into the predicament". (Two collapsed lungs and still smoking.) Or if it was depression, or just plain not ready to see anyone. Anyway, I hope you are able to communicate via email and see him in person very soon. I will be praying for you and your father. Hang in there...

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