Maybe. Or maybe not. Like birth, natural death comes according to its own schedule. We’ve prepared ourselves for the day my father will die so many times, over the course of many years. It hasn’t happened but, once again, I’ve been instructed to get my black clothes cleaned and pressed in preparation for the inevitable.
The inevitable that will come in its own time, regardless of how prepared or ill-prepared we are.
My father has been in ill health for going on 10 years now. His health started to rapidly decline around 2003. It wasn’t until a few years after that we found out it was due to the effects of alcoholism. His liver was failing and presenting in the form of various odd ailments and symptoms. He received a liver transplant in 2007. He somehow survived all the tests, the transplant, oral cancer, and a number of other ailments but he’s pretty much giving up now. He’s in kidney failure and unwilling to continue with dialysis.
I’m not close with my dad. In fact, he drives me absolutely crazy. The way he treats my mother when all she’s trying to do is keep him alive and pain-free. The man who was once the life of the party and super fun to be around has become the classic grumpy old man but tenfold. I sit here writing thinking well if he wants to die, he should just die and get it over with and we shouldn’t stand in his way. I know how terribly cold that sounds, but he’s miserable, my mom is miserable, he has no quality of life. At this point I feel terrible for my mom that she’s had to endure this. Dad does nothing to help himself and would just lay down and die if my mom wasn’t around to nag at him. So I feel very ambivalent about this.
It’s his choice obviously. But I’m still trying to make peace with what this has done to this once very strong man. As well as to our family. And that he did this to himself. I fully understand that addiction is very personal and no one can make someone stop using whatever their vice is until they hit rock bottom and either die or choose to stop. I’m addicted to food. I get it. No one can make me stop. Only I can do it. But it still makes me sad nonetheless. All of this could have been prevented. He and my mom could be traveling and enjoying life like my friends’ parents are. He could be taking an active role in raising my nephew and being a positive influence on him. But he doesn’t and I find that very sad.
The doctors at this point are treating the symptoms of the kidney failure, but are no longer trying to save the kidneys. I’ve been instructed to prepare myself. Again. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. Waiting to see what happens next.
In the meantime, I’m once again mourning the retirement and golden years of my parents’ marriage that were never possible due to the years of dealing with illness. I hope that when all is said and done, my mother will be at peace knowing that she did everything she could to save him and that no one will be able to say that she walked away from him in his hour of need. I don’t know that I would have done the same. I hope that she will take care of herself and take advantage of her health and energy to enjoy the rest of her life without the constant worry, bickering, and unhappiness.
But I’m also more determined and than ever to not be in the same position. To make sure that I take better care of myself so that I’ve got the best chance for living a long life of being able to travel, play my music, and be happy and active.