Recently in Family Category


Been thinking about my dad a lot lately. Everything I read or listen to seems to be flavored with remeberances of him. I miss him so much.

Reading a book right now about a homeless guy, based on someone's real life experiences, which naturally has had me thinking about the time when my dad was homeless. It seems unreal to think about being 19 years old with a homeless father, and leaving for another town (moving) with only $40 in my pocket because I spent everything I had to pay for a place for him to stay so I wouldn't have to see him on the streets when I left.

I miss him. A lot.

Parents Visit

My mom and step-dad came to visit our house for the first time this last weekend. It was great having them here. My mom told me, "Wow. You're a real person, with a real house, and a real boyfriend." We're still just renting the house, but hey, I'm out of apartment living now. :)

Cleaning and Letters


I've made it my mission this weekend to get rid of all my junk and have all of my boxes unpacked, once and for all (or at least as close as I can come).

So last night I was going through a box that happened to have a bunch of letters from my Dad from about the years 1988-1994. He was struggling so much and tried so hard. He really loved us. Those letters are from a time when our relationship was untainted by the complexities of supporting him for the five years I lived in Vegas. When our relationship was so pure.

Of course we still loved each other to the end, but I closed myself off to him when I had to deal with the reality of supporting him. I had so much anger and frustration during those years (the supporting him wasn't due to him being sick, that was only the last few months of his life when he had a brain tumor grow and develop so rapidly that there was no time to get chemo for the parts that couldn't be removed by surgery). How hard that had to have been for him to watch our relationship mutate so. He died the morning that I had planned on going to the hospital after taking my make up exam for school, and after my sister left, to have a real deep heart felt one on one talk. He died before I could tell him I had let the anger go and how I loved all the insights on life that we'd share, and that I was planning on coming every day and having real talks with him. He died before I could tell him that we were getting him out of the hospital he hated so much and to a hospice where they would really tend to him.

We had a small fight the night before he died. When my sister and I left, he had a look on his face that we couldn't describe. After he died, we both realized that the look meant that he knew he wouldn't see us again. He knew he was going to die. He called his sister and told her goodbye. When we were at the hospital the next day, we noticed that he didn't have a phone there. I think he tried to call me, but couldn't remember my phone number and when he tried to get the nurses to call me, I think they took the phone away because I had asked them not to have him call me at all hours of the night unless it was important. Because he had been doing that before and I just couldn't deal with it 24-7. I didn't even write down my number for him when I knew he couldn't remember it. I was selfish to do that, but I was handling everything. I was talking with all the doctors, I was trying to complete my last semester of college, I was trying to keep the family all informed of the situation. The one person who needed me most, I couldn't be there for emotionally because I was too busy trying to hold everything together.

And as much as I appreciated my sister coming out for as long as she did to help out, I didn't really know her that well. She's 17 years older than me and I had only seen her a handful of times in my life. I wanted to have a heartfelt talk with my dad, but I couldn't open up like that in front of someone else, someone that I truly didn't know that well. Don't know if I could have opened up like that to in front of someone I did know well. My dad and I had a very special bond. I needed to talk with him, but alone. My sister was leaving that day, so I had planned to come by the hospital after my exam and do just that. Have a real talk with my dad, like old times.

When we found out he had a tumor, I didn't even have a real talk with him. I stayed there for a few minutes and he told me that no matter what has been said or what will be said, no matter what has been done or will be done, he loves me and that's forever. And I left him, to go to work. He found out he had a brain tumor, and I left him alone to let that knowledge sink in on his own, when I should have stayed to comfort him. When I got to work, I couldn't stay and I asked to go home. What did I do? Did I go back to my dad's to be there for him while he tries to process the news that he has a brain tumor? No, I go home. And I call my friend Nathan to come over because I need comfort. Nathan hugged me the moment I opened my door, but I didn't even let him comfort me while he was there. Instead, I sat on the computer and wrote long emails to the family. And that whole time, my dad was sitting at home, trying to process the knowledge that he has a brain tumor. Throughout the ordeal with the hospital stay and surgery, I never had the talk with my dad that he deserved and that I'm sure he needed. I was too busy trying to take charge and handle everything.

My sister stopped by the hospital to say goodbye on her way home and found out that he hadn't woken up that morning. The hospital never called us to tell us. So she called me and I skipped my exam and went to the hospital and watched him die within 10 minutes of my arrival. He made noises when I arrived. I think he knew I was there. I think he wanted to talk to me. I think he waited for me. I held his hand and told him that I loved him.

So last night I read letters from him, from back in happier times, when our relationship was pure and simple, just a father and daughter's love for each other. I read them for hours. And I cried. I miss him so much and I wish I could have been there more for him emotionally those last few years.

Grandma - 2 Days After Surgery

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Back From Nebraska


Sorry I didn't get a chance to update while in Nebraska...didn't have much internet access. I also just got to approving the comments people left for me this evening.

My grandma's surgery was postponed to Wednesday because they discovered an antibody her body built up from a previous blood transfusion and they had to round up some compatible blood to be on hand just in case. The surgery went very well. They replaced her valve with a pig(!) valve and looked at a bypass that was done over 20 years ago. They figured they would have to replace the bypass since they're only expected to last around 5-10 years (I forget the actual estimate), but the bypass was still in great condition so they didn't want to mess with it. The surgery only lasted a couple hours and she was on a ventilator for a couple hours afterward. Her first night was spent mostly sleeping.

The first day after surgery, she was doing great! They had her up and walking 18 hours after the surgery! They also had her sit up for all 3 meals and use the restroom (no more catheter!) and shower. The hospital staff was really impressed with her recovery (she's 83!).

The second day after surgery (today), she was a bit tuckered out and kept telling them to "lemme alone!" (in a jokingly manner) as they wanted to have her walk and shower some more. She walked, but kept putting off the shower. She also felt a bit nauseous and didn't eat much. The doctors and nurses said it was normal to feel worse the second day after surgery. One doctor said that it's usually the second day after surgery when you get up and see the train that just ran over you!

Anyhow, I am back in California now and have had my fill of hospitals for a while. I'm very glad that I was able to be there for my grandma and even more glad that she made it through okay. She's a tough lady, that one.

In Nebraska

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Just wanted to drop a quick note to say I'm in Nebraska. My grandma is having open heart surgery on Tuesday, so my mom and I flew out for the week to be with her.

Holy Crap!

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My step-dad had a heart attack last night! I actually called him in the middle of him getting all clammy. My mom told me on the phone that he was also having chest pains but he wouldn't go to the hospital. I guess he collapsed right after I got off the phone with her and she called the paramedics.

It sounds all too much like a story I had just heard that morning. Last week I had sent a "Merry Christmas" email to a former client. He responded this week (I was out sick Tuesday, so I didn't get the email until yesterday). He thanked me for remembering him and also shared with me an experience he had just over a year ago. Apparently he had a series of heart attacks one evening (he didn't realize it at the time, mind you) and his wife almost got him to agree to go to the hospital, but then he found a "comfort zone" and convinced her not to take him. In the morning he was still having pains and luckily his wife wasn't going to accept any excuses for not going to the hospital. While at the hospital, he went into full cardiac arrest. Thankfully he was in the right place at the right time and survived.

Because of this experience, he wrote a one page article on "Male Stupidity" in hopes of educating others who might otherwise ignore signs and try to tough it out. He told me that I could share it with whomever I like, and seeing as how this hits all too close to home, I thought I'd take the opportunity to share it here. It's in a Word document format. If you have trouble reading it, let me know and I will convert it to html so that it may be viewed as a web page.

Update: Actually, I'll just go ahead and put it up as an .htm file now to make it easier.