Friday, March 22, 2013

To be Human

I have now been waiting for my dad to die for a full week.  One hundred and sixty-eight hours of jumping out of my skin every time the phone rings, because I think it's someone calling me to say he has passed.  That doesn't include the hours during the two weeks before that, when I got the first phone call that he'd had a massive brain aneurysm - he missed a minyan and a meeting, so his friends called the fire department who broke down his door and brought him to Lowell General.  I was just getting dressed to go out to dinner with friends.  Just a normal Friday night.  Then it wasn't.  Next was the call from Lowell General saying they couldn't handle such massive neuro-trauma, and which hospital in Boston should they transprt him to.  (Is this something I'm supposed to know? I figured it would make him happiest to be in a Jewish hospital when he woke up, so I picked Beth Israel.)  During the first of those two weeks I spent alternating between hope and fear every time the phone rang.  (And driving up and back between New York and Boston seven times.) By half-way through the second week, they told us there was no hope. His doctors and medical team at Beth Israel have been wonderful, smart, kind, and caring, but it is never a good sign when a team of doctors ask you to meet in a private room and hand you a box of tissues.  Since then, and in the week since we had to take him off life-support and say good-bye, all I have done is wait for him to die.  It is brutal and exhausting. He would be so angry if he knew this was happening.

You have to understand that this lying around in bed is the exact opposite of who my dad is.  My dad is the guy who always had a joke, always knew the score of the game, always had change for the soda machine.  He always wanted to talk to you, didn't much matter what it was about.  He was a perpetual motion machine (which often drove me crazy) running three miles a day, even on the day he had his fatal aneurysm,  normally getting up four or five times during dinner to reheat his food because "it has to be so hot I can't taste it."  My dad is the guy who sold his business in his early seventies only to go back to work three weeks later because being home was driving him crazy.  He went to work on his last good day as well.   He loved it there.  He was the Security guy at the town court's lot, schmoozing and chatting with everyone who came by.  He loved to be in the middle of it all.  He was a dirt poor street kid who built a business that allowed him to give his family all the things he never had.  He got up and worked hard every day of his life from the time he was a six year old shoeshine boy to his last day.  Because he loved it.  He loved to be busy.  He lived to be busy.  He would hate this entrapment so much.  He hated to be still.

Part of being human is loving people.  Part of loving people is the knowledge that someday they will no longer be able to love you back.  The loss is almost unbearable, but the love makes it worth the pain.

I love you Daddy.