February 1, 2013 in Random Thoughts
Read The Trouble With Secrets, Part 1 here.
Read The Trouble With Secrets, Part 2 here.
I spent the weekend of January 17 in a hospital.
My dad had not been feeling well: we knew that. Was he depressed? Was he ill? Would he go to the doctor?
He might. He had bills to pay and the yard to care of, and a couple of errands to run and maybe he’d make one of those errands a doctor’s visit. Or maybe he wouldn’t.
As I sat by his bedside listening to doctor after doctor come in and talk abut the serious medical situation he was in, I kicked myself for not being more insistent that he seek medical care sooner. I kicked myself for not hopping on a plane earlier, throwing him in a car, and driving him to a doctor myself.
But he lives far away, and he’s my dad: very stubborn, and as it turns out, quite the keeper of secrets.
I will never forget that moment in the hospital room when, with my dad’s permission, the doctor finally told me the truth: My dad had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010 and had refused treatment. The dire health problems he now had were a direct result of a disease I never even knew he had.
Nobody knew. He told no one.
I turned from the doctor to my dad as if in slow motion, trying to understand the ramifications of the news I had just heard, and I caught the look on my dad’s face: sheepish, afraid, sad, and guilty, all wrapped into a shell of the man I used to know.
I couldn’t stay angry with him: I was too worried. I was too aware that he could have died in his home, and I was too thankful to have the time to say goodbye.
But I still struggle. Of course I respect his privacy, but is it fair that I had to go from having a dad that might be depressed or mildly ill to a dad that had to enter hospice care in the span of a January weekend? Would a small sacrifice of privacy of his part have made this particular weekend, and every weekend for the past three years, a much different experience?
And I will continue to wonder long after my dad has left.