Thursday, June 4, 2009

"The Visit"

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.


Victoria said...

You are total fabulosity. What a great thing to read/hear about.

Southbay Girl said...

Jo Lynn, you are such a strong woman! I don't know what came between you and your dad, but it was obviously enough to rip apart your relationship for a very long time! What you did when you went to visit your dad was wonderful! It was cleansing, healing, strong, selfless and showed that you have love in your heart for your dad!! I'm sorry you haven't had that close knit relationship with him! But I'm so very happy for you and for him that you went to the hospital to see him! Your description of his emotional response to seeing you was so wonderful!! You just made your dads day!!!! You brought joy to his life! And I hope it brought a little joy to your life!!

I agree, life is too short-and you would hate living with regrets! I'm so glad you found the strength to go to the hospital!!!!

You are an amazing woman!!!

MJ said...

I can only imagine what it must mean for him to see you after all this time....

I kept thinking about if it was me in the bed and my daughter walking in after 20 years. Tears.....

I think you are wise to do your best to let bygones be bygones - you will both be a lot lighter without the weight of those issues which I'm sure were/are very difficult.

Hopefully everyones physical and mental health is only on the upswing now!

sneakersister said...

I have to leave a comment for you.

I had an estranged relationship with my father for close to 20 years as well. It was the hardest, freakiest thing to finally see my Dad for the first time after all those years. But, each time I saw him afterwards it got easier and easier. I now really regret the lost time because recently, after 10 years of being reunited, he has been diagnosed with cancer and all I can think about is all of that lost time with him.

It's good to move past the walls. Good luck and congratulations for making that first move and going to see your father. I guarantee that meant the world to him.

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

I'm really glad you went to see him. When I saw my dad last month I left feeling like a huge weight was off my shoulders. A weight I didn't even know I was carrying. My wish for you is that you feel the same way - lighter for no longer carrying the burden burried deep down inside.

It's kind of funny about your brother. My son passed out twice in health class - different occasions when they were showing squeamish material. We went through the same barage of questions. LOL

Marlene said...

I'm so glad you got to see your dad and it wasn't too uncomfortable. It sounds like he was so happy to see you. It must have been difficult seeing him like that, when he was probably so strong & healthy the last time you saw him.

René said...

That's amazing. I hope you are feeling better. Sometimes I wonder what all this endurance training is about, could it be to prepare us for moments like this?

AKA Alice said...

I was in tears reading this post. I'm so glad you shared it and I'm so happy for you that you went to see your dad...and that is was a comfortable meeting for both of you.

Good story about your bro passing out...differences between men and women? We know when we need to sit down (OK...that's not a universal truth...I'm sure lots of women pass out too). Nice that it gave you some comic relief for the elevator. Sometimes we need to laugh at seemingly inappropriate times. I'm always one for giggling at a funeral.

Your last line is perfect. Just perfect.

RunningLaur said...

I commend your strength! It's good that your brother fainting could be a moment of levity - I'm sure a good hard laugh was perfect at the end of the trip.

aron said...

you are such an amazing strong women... I am so glad the visit went well (minus the passing out) and you were able to move past whatever happened just a little.

I totally love those moments where you cannot control laughter whatsoever... I am sure that was also a great release of the anxiety you had been holding onto prior to this visit.

Missy said...

He seemed so vulnerable, weak, and helpless. Nothing like the man I used to know.

...maybe he's not the man you used to know. Some 'things' run deep, I know that to be true. Others aren't worth messing with anymore.

I hope you can get peace.

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Your post had me in tears too. So glad you got to see your father after all these years. I'm sure he particularly needs you right now. I never got along with my dad, though we were never outright estranged. A few months before he went in for bypass surgery (from which he died) my mother reminded me to put things right between us b/c he wouldn't always be with us, and I was glad that I did, because I never got another chance.
You are wise to choose peace over grudges and regrets.

Funny about your brother! Gotta love that vasovagal reflex (I get it too -- it's not limited to men). I fainted while getting my ears pierced and woke up on the floor of the mall! very embarassing...


Stuart said...

You're a strong strong woman!

Cyclist trim = shaved legs!

run to eat said...

Whenever I read your posts I am guaranteed a laugh, a cry, or amazement. Today, I got all three.
You are so special and I am so thankful you give second chances!

Judi said...

that is awesome you let go of those bad feelings you had for your dad. live and learn, right? congrats jo lynn. it's rough.

leslie said...

Wow. Your last three words are profound, to be sure. You and your family are in my prayers.

RBR said...

"I can not afford to live with resentments."

Perfectly said.

You showed a huge amount of growth and I hope you got the relief that comes with letting go of old, unchangeable hurts.

No one is perfect. We don't forgive those that have trespassed against us for their benefit, we do it for our own and for the people that love us today.

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