February 2013


image

Drowning in the tears
that are running down your face.
Can’t get out of this hole,
you’re caught up in the race.
Greeting every day,
not with a sigh of relief.
But cursing death’s bony ass,
for not giving you sweet release.
The gas lights on,
in your dammed old car.
Gotta drive to work,
but you won’t get far.
Eeking out a living,
Feeling that you’re cursed.
But you must smile and laugh my dear,
cuz it’s only going to get worse.

Advertisements

image

  On this day, seven years ago, I held onto my fathers hand as he died. he was diagnosed with a stage four glioblastoma multiforme. He was given two years… He lasted 11 months.
  My father was a great guy. He always had a warm smile and words of encouragement for anyone in need. Of course, I didn’t realize how great he was when I was a teen… But as I grew up, moved out, and had children of my own, I came to realize that all the crap I hated about him back then, was just him looking out for me. He was trying to give me a life that he never had.
  I remember standing in that waiting room while they did a CT scan, and pacing nervously. The whole family seemed to be there. The doctor came out and said my father had a “growth” in his brain, the size of a walnut. He was rattling on and on using “docspeak” I stopped him mid-sentence and asked if he was saying that my father had a brain tumor. He looked at the floor momentarily and then looked me in the eyes, “yes” he replied. I didn’t know how to react. I left everyone standing there as I walked out the hospital door.
  My wife finally found me by the car, staring at the ground and fighting with my emotions. She had stayed behind and listened to the rest of what the doctor had said. They were doing surgery the next day to try and remove it. It was in an area of the brain that affected speech, vision, and memory. So, he might be ok after surgery, he might be blind, mute, and not have much in the way of memory, or he could die on the table.
  We rented a hotel room, I called work to let them know I’d be out a little longer, and I proceeded to put a liter of vodka on an empty stomach with little sleep. I wrote about eight pages in a journal that night. Its weird when I pull it out to read it, which I do once in awhile. You can see just how inebriated I was at different points of the writing, as my penmanship (not very good to start with) proceeds to get worse and worse. Since he might have suffered memory loss, I filled the writing with lots of things I didn’t want him to forget, interspersed with lots of “DON’T LEAVE” and “YOU CAN BEAT THIS” Special memories that we shared; hiking, (where i now take my kids) him filming while my friends and I were aggressive inlining, and a lot of sorry I wasn’t a better son.
  The surgery took 11 hours, and we were told that they removed all that they could without damaging his brain, but not all of it. We would have to hope that the chemo and radiation treatment would help the rest. I was then allowed to visit him after he woke. He was very out of it, but seemed a lot better. Although, he thought he was in a car crash, (a left over memory from when he was a teen, and was in a horrible wreck that left his brother and him in the hospital for about a year) He thought it was December, (It was March) and he told the doctor the the z in his last name was silent. (We don’t have a z in our last name)
  The short version of the following months is, we went about our lives, visited him often, doctor appointments, radiation treatments, et cetera. Then came Christmas…
  His company was having a Christmas dinner in Monterey, and his mother and sister couldn’t take him. Of course my wife and I jumped at the opportunity to spend some time with him. He was a well liked person, and everyone at his company had rallied to help him in any way they could. I wasn’t about to have them miss seeing him, spend time with my father, or have him miss the last Christmas dinner I knew he was going to have. I knew that he wasn’t going to survive another year.
  We arrived at Cannery Row and needed to find parking. He couldn’t make the walk from parking, so he demanded that we drop him off, and I walk with my wife (who was driving) because, “No lady should walk alone at night around here.”  Everyone came to say hi to him and you could see him beam with pride. Fighting through the headaches and nausea, to seem upbeat. He told everyone he’d be back at work soon.
  It was a beautiful place, and a buffet style dinner. We got our food and sat down close to the buffet because he couldn’t walk to the back where the actual tables were located. We were informed by staff that we would have to move to the back, because we weren’t allowed to eat there. I don’t know what came over me as I stood up, and quietly stated to the man, “That man there has terminal brain cancer. We will be eating here cuz he can’t make the walk to the back. If you want to press the issue, I’ll make sure you enjoy a little hospital stay yourself!”  We were allowed to eat there. Lol
  Fast forward to January. I took some time off work to go down, and be with my father. He was getting worse, the tumors (yes, now there were three) were getting larger, and nothing was slowing them down. I spent our time reading to him, reminiscing about the past, and helping him to the bathroom. On January 28th, he suffered a major seizure and landed in the ER. I stood next to his unconscious body as I was told there was nothing left to do but make him comfortable. He came out of it enough once to ask me for water. The docs said he couldn’t have any, and when I relayed this, he flipped me the bird. I understand his frustration, but let me tell you something… The next thing I did, I will regret for the rest of my life. I was tired, I was worried for my father, I was a little hurt that he flipped me the bird, so I went outside for a smoke.  While outside smoking, he fell into a coma that he never came out of. So, “Fuck you” were my fathers last words to me. My wife on the other hand, got some wet cotton swabs, and moistened his lips… She got, “I love you.” Nothing quite like knowing your ex got better parting words. :/
  For the next three days I sat by his side, sometimes crying, sometimes talking to him, sometimes holding his hand. No food or sleep for me. He was clinging to life, and I told him that he could rest now. We were going to be ok. He had a wife waiting for him on the other side. (my stepmom had died a few years prior) and I wasn’t going to sleep or eat until he went to be with her. Around nine a.m. on the morning of February second, he opened his eyes, took a deep breath, and started his journey into the unknown. I was holding his hand and singing to him as he died. In fact, everyone there was singing. “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” You see… His name was Behr, and he used to call me Baby Bear.
  It took me a long time to start using that name. And to this day, only a few people outside of wordpress know me by that name. I’m proud of this name I bear, (haha… see what i did there?) and I know that somewhere he’s looking down at his cub, smiling. I just hope I’m at least half the man he was.
  Rest in piece dad. I love you.

image