The support I received from all of you was amazing! I cannot thank you enough. The comments were so touching. It helped me immensely! I have the best blogger friends in the world. ;)
As I said before, prior to yesterday I had not seen my dad for almost 20 years and we hadn't talked for 14 years. I won't go into the reasons why my dad and I haven't spoken for 14 years. I was 31 at that time so you have to know that it wasn't just "one thing" that finally made that happen.
I picked up my brother yesterday after work and we drove up to the VA Hospital in San Francisco. Since I hadn't seen my dad or step-mom for close to 20 years, I asked Steve if he should go in first. I thought if we walked in together, they might think I was his girlfriend! Hey, you never know. I had asked my brother not to say I was going up with him. Maybe I figured I could still back out if I wanted. Come to find out, he did tell my step-mom earlier in the day.
Since my dad was in the intensive care unit, we had to go to a family waiting area and call the room from there. This is where my step-mom met up with us. I was pleasantly surprised by the warm greeting she extended to me. She, along with two nurses, walked us back into the ICU. I could feel my mouth getting dry, my heart beating faster. And now I had to pee!
My dad is 6'4" and was always about 240 pounds or so. He was in the Marines when he was young. He's always been, what I would consider, a hard worker, a tough man.
When we approached his "area" in the ICU, my step-mom pointed to where he was, behind the curtain, and she stood back while Steve and I continued walking. When I saw him, he was sitting in a chair, holding a big stuffed heart shaped pillow to his chest. He looked so small. His hair is all grey. He had two days of growth on his face. He looked all of his 73 years old. We walked toward him and he held his arms out to us. He looked at me and started to cry. He said he was so happy to see me. He wouldn't let go of my hand for the longest time. He just kept looking at me and squeezing my hand. My brother went ahead and took the only chair there while I continued to stand next to my dad.
It wasn't uncomfortable. I thought it would be. We caught up on as much as we could. After about an hour of standing, I asked Steve if I could sit down, my ankle was starting to hurt. At this time, my dad started telling us about his surgery. A single bypass. His ribs are now wired together and the incision on his skin is stapled. He had the pillow on his chest because they don't want his ribs busting open when he coughs. All of the sudden, my brother says, "I can't take it Jo." I turn to look at him and he's turning white. As a sheet! And he has a very blank look on his face. His lips are white. Now he starts to wobble. I scream and everyone starts running over. I jump up to try and catch him. A chair is shoved under his legs. Down he goes! A little nurse grabs his feet and puts them up on her hips. Another nurse is asking me all these questions about his health - is he diabetic? does he have seizures? did he eat today? does he take blood pressure medication? any medication? should he go to the ER? Maybe they thought I was his girlfriend. LOL Right before he fell, I heard him say, "I don't like hospitals." I told the staff that he just doesn't like hospitals. They took his blood pressure, gave him a juice box. He recovered quickly, thank God. He told me we should probably not stay much longer. He needed some air. Gee, ya think? I'm glad I drove, that's for sure.
We said goodbye to our dad. I gave him my phone numbers and asked him to keep in touch. He cried again when I gave him a hug. I will admit that I had to hold back my tears. I mean, he is my dad after all. Seeing him in this condition was tough. He seemed so vulnerable, weak, and helpless. Nothing like the man I used to know.
My brother and I got in the elevator to go down to my car. When I looked at him, he was facing forward with a smirk on his face. Then it came. He said, "DOH!" I lost it. "You passed OUT!" I started laughing so hard. My eyes welled up. We couldn't stop laughing. Here we are in a hospital that only does major surgeries and we're laughing hysterically when the doors open up. We just couldn't help it.
I'm not sure my dad and I will ever have a tight relationship. I think at this point in my life I am willing to have some type of relationship though. I can't afford to live with resentments. I don't want to live or die with regrets.
Forgive. Accept. Live.