I will DEFINITLY be in Austin the weekend of the Super Bowl, and possibly the Monday after as well. Those of you still repping the 512 who also still remember me (if vaguely :P) can look forward to an invasion from the north next weekend...
The more I live, the closer I edge to believing that everything happens for a reason.
One month ago yesterday, I was written up at work for "accuracy problems", a polite way of saying, "you need to stop watching net videos and start watching where you put the map markers". As usual, I went back to my desk, obsessed, and got myself to such a state that no further work was possible. After half an hour of staring blankly at my monitor and muttering, I took the rest of the day off to refocus. Tomorrow would be a better day, I knew. It's not like this hasn't happened before.
Thusly freed, I walked out in to the bright afternoon sunshine and drove home, intent on terrorizing the police force of San Andreas. And I did. For an hour or so, I led the lawmen on a merry chase in a crime spree that included the theft of a tank and a Harrier jet. Only after my bloodlust was sated did I get up to make tea. It was on my way back that I heard my dad call my name.
He was in his room, in bed. He was fully under the blankets, and he winced when he moved. He asked me to reheat his heating pads for him (my mom made "all natural" heating pads about 10 years ago... you microwave them for a couple minutes, they stay hot for a couple hours), which I gladly did. As he shifted the blankets around to place the pads, I saw that his stomach was huge and swollen; it was then he asked me if I could get the next afternoon off. Since I’d gotten that afternoon off, I told him I couldn’t, but I asked him why he needed me that next day. He told me that his stomach was hurting, and if it didn’t stop, he wanted to go to the doctor.
This was huge. I tried for nearly 5 years to get my dad to go see our family doctor, using every trick in the book in the process. If he was willing to go see someone about his stomach, he was seriously hurting. I offered to take him right then, but he refused. He said he had to give the heating pads time to work. I argued the point a little, but, as always, it was to no avail. Hardheadedness runs in my family, and my old man’s head had always been the Volvo of stubborn. I closed the door behind me when I left.
At this point, I’d been home for not quite an hour and a half. I knew something was seriously wrong. My dad’s stomach was buddalike in its distendedness; he was showing signs of pain and weakness (which he never did); and worst of all, he didn’t want a glass of wine. I was in total freakout mode, and did the only thing I could think of: I called my mom.
My mom and I talked for half an hour. Usually, I let her lead the conversation; my mom loves to talk, and it’s hard to get a word in edgewise. That day, I spat it out up front: I needed her to convince dad to let me take him to the doctor. Once the why was explained, she hung up and called him. After 15 minutes, he told me he was getting dressed; I was taking him to the doctor.
The process of getting dressed felt like it took 10 hours. I think the shoes were the hardest part for dad; his feet were huge and swollen, so I imagine it was painful to get them on and laced… never mind the bending over with his stomach the way it was. I went in to check on him, but he never asked for help; he was intent on doing it all himself, and I wasn’t going to force him to hurry. It had taken this long to get him to the medical profession… I wasn’t going to piss him off and give him a reason to change his mind.
The family doctor has taken Wednesday afternoons off for as long as I can remember, so we weren’t able to get an appointment with him. Instead, Dad and I went to the emergency room, where he was admitted in less than 20 minutes. It was probably another hour before we saw a doctor, though there were a steady stream of nurses coming in to run tests. She ordered more tests, so it was back to waiting.
Around about this time, my brother showed up. When dad told me we were going to the hospital, I sent him a text asking him to call. Long story short, he did, and he brought me food. We ate KFC in the waiting room of the ER, drawing many covetous glances from the other apprehensive waiters. He asked what the doctors had said; I told him what little I knew- they said he might be out by the weekend, Monday at the latest. When we finished, I went back and told dad we were going to run home and that we wouldn’t be long. He asked me to hurry back, pointing out my 10 minutes with Matt had turned in to an hour. I promised I would.
I got back to the hospital in about an hour, just in time to escort dad upstairs. While I was out, they drained the fluid from his stomach, and he seemed to be feeling much better. They put him in a two-person room with a man who suffered from senile dementia; he kept ranting about, and shouting at, the nurses. My dad disliked him instantly, and took every opportunity to call him a cunt. I stayed till they kicked me out, gave my dad a hug, and told him I’d be back in the morning. I went home and called everyone I could who hadn’t heard yet. I finally went to sleep around 3am.
Thursday I spent shuttling back and forth between the house and the hospital. When I went in the morning, dad was sleeping; when I came back in the afternoon, mom was there. Dad was in good spirits, insisting that he needed to be released because, “his wife and his son were coming to town and he wanted to spend time with them at home” (this son being my brother Yan). When I went back that evening, my dad was a total wreck. They’d given him attavan, and it messed him up pretty bad. I talked to the doctor and got them to stop giving it to him. I stayed until I got kicked out, again. My dad’s prognosis had worsened slightly; now it was Monday at a minimum. My guess is that he got lippy with one of his Pakistani doctors. :)
Friday I worked… my brother had arrived, and my mom was staying with my dad. I didn’t want him to feel overwhelmed, but I went to the hospital when I got off. I stayed for a couple of hours, had a chat with the doctor, and went to the Electric Six concert. It was entirely too short, but they rocked out. As a side note, I love Denton venues; I got a hug from the lead singer and I insulted the drummer. He’s from Crawford, though, so I bet he gets it a lot. I left when their set finished… some band from Finland named Blue something was playing after them, but I felt a little guilty and wasn’t much in the mood to stay.
Saturday was the day it became clear to me my dad wasn’t going to leave the hospital. He was awake and lucid in the morning, but his energy tapered off dramatically and by the afternoon, he was asleep. As he slept, I left to take a shower and shake off the day so far. Had I known I’d never get to talk to him again, I would have said so much more. When I returned, he was still asleep, and breathing raggedly. My brother Antony, on his way since my mom told him that this may be his last chance (and I am so angry at her for not telling me sooner), was going to arrive in the country at 7. When I got there at 5:30, my mom was in a panic, afraid that my dad wasn’t going to make it till Ant got there. I talked him through it, with occasional breaks for calls from relatives in the UK who couldn’t make it, until 8:30, when my brother finally got there. By this time, he was missing breaths, and the nurses said he could pass at any time. We all said our goodbyes, one at a time. My mom stayed the night at the hospital; she was the only one, by request, though my brother Matt did join her at some point.
Sunday dawned, and I was strangely hopeful. My dad was in a hospital bed at death’s door, but I believed he would hang in for a few more days. As I said earlier, he was stubborn, and I didn’t expect him to go when everyone was saying he would. I stayed at the hospital anyway, smoking like a chimney. When I ran out, I turned to bumming smokes off my brothers and my cousins. My cousin Mike offered to run up to the store, and I volunteered to go with him. We were at the counter when his phone rang. Mike looked back at me, said, “Yeah, he’s here,” paid for the cigarettes and started us out to his truck. On the way, he told me the call was from my Mom.
I knew what it meant, knew what he meant. But I couldn’t believe it. I ran through the parking lot, up the stairs, through the twisting and turning corridors that I had come to know in the last few days. I ran like I could catch the pieces of my heart.
When I was young- very young- I remember laying next to my dad on the floor. He was asleep, as he usually was in those days, because he worked for IBM as a swing engineer. I remember cuddling up to him, and telling him that I loved him, and suddenly realizing he would someday die. I wept until my mom came in and found me there, curled up on my dad’s arm and sobbing quietly, and asked me why.
I don’t know how long I cried there, in front of his bed, seeing him for the last time. I just know it was an eternity. I felt my brothers’ hands, my mother’s arms, on and around my shoulders, but I couldn’t support them. I sank, and I cried, and moaned wordlessly, while empty hollow words flew around me, trying to make me feel better long enough to just stop. Eventually, I did… and I made it all the way to my car before I started up again.
For all my complaints, for all his faults, I loved my dad very much. As he declined over the last few years, I took care of him; I got him food, bought his groceries, ran his errands. And, unique amongst his sons, I listened to him. Now I go home to an empty house, with nothing to do, and only echoes, painful quiet echoes. I miss him so much.
Michel John Lovell September 22, 1948 – October 8, 2006 Rest in peace, dipshit Englishman
My compant recently moved the offices for our division to another building in Plano, one that used to be owned by the Dallas Morning News. There's still a faint smell of paper and burnt toner, though in the few weeks we've been here, it's changed a lot. They've completely remade the upper floor of the building, added a cafeteria to the bottom, and as far as I can tell, are currently in the process of installing a tunnel to China under my desk. :) We're due to be here for two months before they move us to another building... but these are the joys of a huge, megaprofitable megacorp. :)
There's a Starbucks just down the road from here, across the street from a Catholic school. While I'm not usually big on their coffee, the staff they have there is just fantastic. Not only can the make decent espresso, but they're all friendly at 5am. It's hard to beat a smiling face at that ungodly hour of the day, but combine it with coffee strong enough to kill a horse and you've got a winner.
In other news... as I'm sure everyone knows by now, they've arrested a suspect in the JonBenet Ramsey case. It's surprising, but the most surprising thing about this, to me, is the restraint the media is showing. They may have actually learned a lesson about media demonization from this case; every talking head I saw last night was careful to say 'alleged', and every 'expert' the networks brought in repeated the same refrain, "Let's not try this man in the media." Shame they had to beat up on her parents for so long to get that idea. I don't think they're necessarily guilt-free, but the fact that they were vilified by the police and the media early on never sat well with me. Here's to hoping justice is served.
I wrote this primarily for a socio-political discussion board, but I've gotten some good feedback, and it's about time I crossposted it. Plus it's about time I posted here again and let everyone know I'm still alive. ;)
I'm going to try and get it published in the Statesman. Stay tuned. :)