My father begrudgingly disclosed to me that he was to have an angiograph in preparation for an angioplasty to be performed on an out-patient basis. He wanted to tell me after the fact, but Mother insisted I know before the procedure. He wasn't worried, so I wasn't worried.
Unfortunately, the outcome determined that an angioplasty would do no good, and that a full blown bypass needed to be performed. Open-heart surgery. On my father. The very next day.
There are sons who despise their fathers and sons who are ambivalent towards their fathers and sons who believe their fathers were born from the gods themselves and helped forge the very heaven and earth on which we walk. Just to clear up any misconceptions, I belong to that last camp. There is never any advice as good as my father's advice, for not only have I followed closely in his footsteps knowing that where I am about to leap he has leapt before. And unlike anyone else on this earth, his advice is in my best interest, for his goal is my success. And its more than that, too. He's not just my father now that I'm an adult, he's my friend. A long-suffering friend who never gets angry at me, never treats me with disrespect, and is never disappointed in me. We share similar interests in movies, music, and books and share with each other endlessly these endeavors. I am he, in almost every facet of my life.
When I called my mother and brother to get an update on what time the procedure would be scheduled, I discovered that two doctors had separately determined that his blockage was inoperable, and he was given 24-hours to live.
I was already at the hospital by the time the "Gregory House of Fort Worth" arrived. This man was considered the best heart surgeon in the city and was brought in to give final consultation on the other two doctors' decision. After reviewing the angiogram and then querying my father, he explained that he was going to die unless he had bypass surgery, but that he likely wouldn't survive the operation due his diabetes and weight causing him to be a very high-risk patient.
"But," he said, "I want to do the surgery. It is your only chance."
My father was prepared for any eventuality, and faced his fate more bravely than I was able to, and we said our goodbyes.
I drove to my folks house to deliver the news to my mother and brother, maintaining strict stoicism the entire evening...until my wife called - which caused her to rouse the children from their beds and drive to Wise County in the middle of the night. I took leave of my mother and got our usual suite in Decatur. If he was not going to survive the operating table, my wife wanted him to see the children one last time.
I dreamed Daisy had come back, and I was so excited to see her! I was petting her and playing with her, and we were so very much enjoying each other's company. Surprisingly, she continued to stay. Usually she just stays a short time. She led me to a corner where she laid down and batted my hands with her gigantic paws and offered me her beautiful head to stroke. I called celtmanx in my dream, "Guess who came to visit me in a dream?" I asked. "Daisy! But here's something puzzling, she hasn't left yet. Usually she comes in my subconscious to comfort me, but she's never stayed this long. Why is she still here? What is going on that I require so much comforting?" He didn't know, and neither did I, but I was enjoying her presence, which pushed my curiosity to the sidelines. I let her comfort me.
Then the phone rang, waking me. It was Mother. Father was going in at 0600. Too early for the children to see him if he didn't pull through. How was I going to explain this them? When I had children of my own, my father stepped out of that role and became PapaDaddy to my children. He was PapaDaddy to all of us now. No longer a father, but a grandfather. Its the role of a lifetime, and the culmination of his patriarchal career. And just like everything else he set his hand to, he was successful at it.
We met Mother at the hospital and waited.
Eventually, the doctor arrived. "There's not a thing wrong with his heart, its healthy and strong." Healthier than they expected. They performed a double-bypass and he's not only recovering, he's recovering faster than they could've possibly imagined.
Later, in ICU, the attending nurse told us that the doctor told them the reason he was doing so well was his attitude. Apparently the doctor had done more than asked questions about his routine that night in his hospital room, he was gauging the man himself, and unbeknownst to us, had determined that his positive attitude was going to be key to his success. I've said it before, I live by it, but I submit to you now, that attitude is everything!
In authoring this, I was finally able to let the tears flow, and I want to thank all those involved in supporting me during this time. The last three days have been one hell of an experience, and last night was my first full night of sleep in a week. Tonight, is mr_dowg's Pirate Party - and while we are all gathered here for different reasons, tonight, I celebrate my father's life.
I love you dad, and my world would be dull without you in it.