...for a different kind of girl

silent surburban girl releasing her voice, not yet knowing what all she wants to say about her life and the things that make it spin. do you have to be 18 to be here? you'll know when i know.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

the post where I declare being a grown up sucks

About ten years ago, my Dad walked into my house, found me in my kitchen, and handed me an envelope with my name printed on the front. Placing it on the counter, he nodded his head at it, indicating I should open it. Inside, I found two sheets of paper with the words 'living will' and 'durable power of attorney' printed across the top.

That was all I saw. I quickly folded the papers back into thirds and returned them to their confines inside the envelope. Then I looked at him and said no.

No, thank you, but I do not want this job.

No. I'm standing here in my kitchen in a stupor because I can't decide what to make for dinner. Therefore, I do not want be the one responsible for the decisions that will impact you, a man who a brief decade earlier, had been responsible for me.

No.

My Dad picked up the envelope, pulled the papers back out, and pushed them toward me. We stared at each other for a bit until I broke the gaze and glanced at them again. This time I saw more words I didn't like, mostly because they were strikingly similar to my thoughts. I did not want this job because this job was rife with things my Dad did not want to have done to him.

Several years prior to this particular afternoon, my Dad
had suffered a massive stroke that changed everything about his life. Everything. That's a pretty damn tough concept to deal with when you're 49 years old at the time your life takes an unwelcomed 180 degree spin and lands in a completely different square than where thought you'd be. It's equally tough when you're 23 years old, and the man who lifted your spirits and talked you down from bad relationships can't do that any more. In pretty much every way, our roles in the other's life reversed after the stroke. Welcome to Adulthood! And you thought scraping up enough rent money every month was a bitch!

Over the last sixteen years, we've helped my Dad deal with a variety of medical issues. There have been therapies and appointments, meetings and discussions. Depression and anger. Lots and lots of anger (mostly his, though I'd be lying if I said I'd not had my share). I watch my Dad walk across a room now and I see a man who seems ages older than he actually is, and I turn to whomever I'm with and ask them if they think his gait is slower.
Does it seem like his leg muscles are tightening? He's not even trying to talk much these days, is he? Oh, and he's smoking again, isn't he? Yeah, because that's good when you've had a stroke and so much of your health is already compromised.

We have a list of things we check through. The last time the list landed on a growth on the left side of my Dad's face that has grown dramatically larger since it raised family attention over the holidays. Tomorrow morning, surgeons will do a tremendous amount of cutting carefully around his carotid artery to remove what we hope is a removable (and please, God, fingers crossed, amen and all that) benign growth from his lower jawline. Doctors have told him if he doesn't have this surgery, whatever is growing in his neck will continue to do so, and will eventually damage his facial structure and destroy his ability to eat and swallow, thus opening up a variety of other medical needs.


My Dad believes that tomorrow, he's going to die.

Whenever we've sat in surgical consultations, the only thing he's heard is "There's a chance that, while under anesthesia, you could suffer a stroke." If he has a stroke that impacts his already greatly impacted life, he wants to be allowed to die. It's that thought that provoked him to call me one day a couple weeks ago and remind me of the living will.

"Not going to be an issue, Dad," I said, attempting to change the subject, trying to get him to relax or stop crying. While he's seeing the things he'll miss, I'm attempting to remind him of what he'll be in the middle of when he's home and recovering. Such a life role reversal.

I don't think it will be issue. I really don't. Even though there's also a voice in my head reminding me that my Dad is already not the healthiest man in the world, and the surgery is going to be far more invasive than originally thought. Even though he's so stressed out that if he doesn't calm down, I wonder we're even going to get him into the surgical floor.

My Dad needs to do his job. The surgeons need to do their job. I don't want to have to do mine.

54 Comments:

Blogger Legallyblondemel said...

Been through a similar situation recently, and I'm sorry. It is heart-wrenchingly, agonizingly difficult.

Attempting to put my logical, lawyer hat on, it is so important for your dad that he has someone like you to help with the awful paperwork stuff. So many people do not take care of those things ahead of time, or have anyone to help, and it is a living nightmare for those left to put the pieces together.

Again, sorry. Sending good thoughts to you & your family.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 8:43:00 AM  
Blogger Under the Influence said...

Sending prayers and good vibes to your dad, you and your family!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 8:53:00 AM  
Blogger Christina Lee said...

Been through this with mom, and now dad.... but it IS important!! although so uncomfortable and heart-breaking!!! good luck!!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 8:55:00 AM  
Blogger Craig said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 8:59:00 AM  
Blogger Dana's Brain said...

I don't want those jobs either. But it's clear that you have already taken a lot of that on, and I'm sure you are doing the best you possibly can.

I will be thinking good thoughts for your Dad, you and your family!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 9:01:00 AM  
Blogger Desmond Jones said...

Praying for you, and yer Pops. . .

Molly's dad had a (right-brain) stroke, and he was uber-emotional after that, which was a little disorienting. . .

We had the Family Meeting about my mom's care over the holidays. A pretty good working model of No Damn Fun. But you gotta do it. . .

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 9:05:00 AM  
Blogger Cocotte said...

I'll be thinking about you and your dad today, FADKOG. I just said a prayer. Hugs!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 9:05:00 AM  
Blogger Mary Ellen said...

I've been there, and it is so difficult. Your dad is fortunate to know that you will be there for him, whatever the need is.

Sending only positive thoughts to you and your family.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 9:08:00 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Your dad is in my prayers, and so are you.

xoxo

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 9:23:00 AM  
Blogger Carolyn...Online said...

You're so right. Being that grown up sucks. But it's such a good thing that your dad was a grown up too and made clear what he wants. It helps you do that other not so pleasant job.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 9:23:00 AM  
Blogger Betsey Booms said...

Here is my heart going out to you.

Been through the same things with my dad. The last time he collapsed with a mini-stroke was in my own kitchen.

Suddenly, I'm sent reeling into adulthood and all it entails and taking care of my dad, the caregiver of me and my babies.

Adulthood smacks you in the face, so unkindly.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 9:32:00 AM  
Blogger kimmyk said...

aww sending good vibes your way and to your dad tomorrow morning.

it sucks when our parents get older and the roles are reversed. it's hard and stressful.

i'll be thinking of all of you...

hugs.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 9:54:00 AM  
Blogger Therese in Heaven said...

I am so sorry that you have to deal with that. Prayers for a safe and successful surgery.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Wonderful World of Weiners said...

But you will do your job if you need to. Which is why your dad can go and do his with peace of mind.

Hallie

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger PAPATV said...

I'm not good at the "heavy" stuff, either.

Whether good or bad, my mom never let us see her suffering side. She insisted on being strong.

Sometimes I think it would have been better if she just said plainly "I'm scared."

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Brian o vretanos said...

I've nothing to say, other than to wish you and your father the best at this difficult time...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger Prefers Her Fantasy Life said...

I hope it goes well. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Always Home and Uncool said...

Hang tough, faDkog and father. We're here for you.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger Sailor said...

That's hard fadkog, I'm sorry. I had the power of attorney for my mom, because she wasn't sure any of my brothers or sister would be strong enough, if it was needed. Thankfully, we didn't need to use them ever, but it comforted her to know that I had them, in case.

I pray that that's all your dad ends up with too, just knowing you have it if needed, and that his surgery goes well. Praying for you and the rest of your family as well, and sending hugs.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger Tuesday Girl said...

I don't want teh job either. Hold on to your father, tell him you love him, for me.

prayers.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

hugs to you, love!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Andrea with the Flipflops said...

I did not realize there are so many of us with this job. I hope you don't have to do your job ... as I don't want to do mine either. (as most of us are saying)

I will be thinking of you and your family today and wishing you all a day full of wonderful outcomes!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger justme said...

I hope that things go well for your dad in surgery. I cannot imagine, yet, and hope to not have to ever.

My mom recently informed me that they are changing the executor of their will to be me, in lieu of her brother, since I am an adult now. She keeps trying to get me over their to go through where some paperwork and crap is, and somehow, every time she wants to go through it I find some excuse or another...

I don't want to do that job, either.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger BedsideTalesMan said...

Have gone through it. Sending you and your family all my good thoughts and wishes!!!!!

Keep your chin up...it is important

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger Vodka Mom said...

saying a prayer.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 1:11:00 PM  
Anonymous TwoBusy said...

I don't know what to say other than 1) this sucks; and 2) I hope tomorrow goes exactly as planned.

Wishing both you and the different kind of Dad all the best...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 1:16:00 PM  
Blogger Bee said...

My thoughts are with you and your family.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 1:25:00 PM  
Anonymous ilinap said...

Been through this with my FIL. My parents have never discussed this issue with us, and they are both in not-so-great health. I think it's denial through and through. My husband and I just finalized our wills and living wills.

Prayers to your dad and family. Wishing you all the best.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 2:00:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Wood said...

Best of luck and prayers for your Dad. All being well things will be fine.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 2:11:00 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

I was also 23 when my mother had a series of small strokes. Thankfully, she is ok now. She also has a gait and gets tired easily. I however, had 3 older siblings who tried to take care of her. I'm afraid, my dad, who has growths in 3 different places on his face and who refuses tosee a dermatologist even though we all know it's skin cancer, somehow will wake up one day and realize he needs to get this taken care of.

I envy the fact that your dad is getting this taken care of.

Thank you for letting me rant. It was much needed.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 2:19:00 PM  
Anonymous DC Urban Dad said...

Our family will be thinking of yours.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 4:07:00 PM  
Blogger Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

oh man, sweetie, I will be thinking about you and saying lots of prayers for your dad's safe surgery and recovery.

I know how you feel because we have been through quite a few scares with my dad in the past few years. I don't like facing my parents' immortality AT ALL.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 4:36:00 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

You'll get through this, and be strong for your dad.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 5:26:00 PM  
Blogger Mandy said...

I hope that all goes well. It's so hard to parent our parents.

Hugs and healing thoughts to you and yours.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 5:33:00 PM  
Blogger Swirl Girl said...

oh FaDKoG - I hope it all goes well.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 6:59:00 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

Prayers are heading your dad's way. Your way too.

Thursday, March 05, 2009 1:44:00 AM  
Blogger Fu Manchu Dad said...

I pray that you don't have to do your job either. God be with you and your family through these difficult times.
FMD

Thursday, March 05, 2009 1:49:00 AM  
Blogger The Savage said...

Hugs....

Thursday, March 05, 2009 4:52:00 AM  
Blogger 1blueshi1 said...

Dear FADKOG:
My thoughts are with you and your family.
Love~Elena

Thursday, March 05, 2009 6:54:00 AM  
Blogger The Stiletto Mom said...

I'll be thinking about you and praying for your Dad tomorrow. Poor thing, being a grown up totally sucks...I agree. Big hugs to you from Texas.

Thursday, March 05, 2009 8:51:00 AM  
Blogger Chas said...

I am sending my thoughts and prayers your way. And hugs.

Thursday, March 05, 2009 9:03:00 AM  
Blogger kimmyk said...

thinking about you and your family today.

prayers? check.
good vibes? check.

Thursday, March 05, 2009 9:37:00 AM  
Blogger Bogart in P Towne said...

That is tough and I am sorry to hear that.

Hopefully you won't need to "do your job" this week...but when the time comes, we all know you are strong enough to do it.

Thursday, March 05, 2009 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger calicobebop said...

Wow - I can't imagine being in your position. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Thursday, March 05, 2009 1:17:00 PM  
Blogger kaila said...

I commented yesterday, but don't see it here today???? I hope everything went well today. Thoughts are with you and yours...

Thursday, March 05, 2009 2:38:00 PM  
Blogger Andrea with the Flipflops said...

Just checking in...

Thursday, March 05, 2009 2:51:00 PM  
Blogger Zip n Tizzy said...

Holding you in my thoughts.
How lovely that you have eachother.
Dibilitating illness is no fun... no other way to say it.

Thursday, March 05, 2009 8:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Sammanthia said...

I don't know what else to say other than I'm thinking of you, your dad, and your family. Many hugs.

Thursday, March 05, 2009 9:44:00 PM  
Blogger iMommy said...

Praying that everything went well today. You and your father are in my thoughts.

Thursday, March 05, 2009 9:48:00 PM  
Blogger Mandy Lou said...

I've got lots of words on this one hon, but the only important ones are - do what you need to do if you have to, and pray that you don't.

Thursday, March 05, 2009 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Chibi said...

Oh hon, I'm so sorry. I'm hoping with every fiber of my being that your dad does his job, the surgeons do their job, and you don't have to do yours. Sending much love -- you'll all be in my thoughts.

*squishy hugs*

Thursday, March 05, 2009 11:39:00 PM  
Blogger Zoeyjane said...

I'm coming out of lurking to say that I hope everything turns out fine and you get to keep those papers filed away for a long time to come. I'll be thinking of you tomorrow.

Friday, March 06, 2009 12:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've really missed reading you. FL

Monday, March 09, 2009 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

I know I've said this, but I want to say it again - my thanks to all of you who commented and who have checked in with me to see how my Dad's been doing. I VERY MUCH appreciate your good wishes!

Friday, March 13, 2009 8:16:00 AM  

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