I think the seeds of this post were planted almost 30 years ago. At that point in my life I was deep into the drug culture of the 80’s. The first inklings of my future dilemmas were starting to manifest themselves, but I did not have a clear understanding of the totality of where these feeling were going to lead me. I had some moments of clarity, like when I saw the complete parallel between a song by Mike & The Mechanics called “The Living Years”, and my relationship with my father. I heard this song today, and all those same feelings came crashing down again. If you don’t know the song, take a moment and listen…
The reason for my strong reaction, goes back just over a week ago when I received a call from the VA home telling me my father had fallen and broken three ribs. That alone was bad enough, but they also told me they were pretty sure he had developed lung cancer. My father had been a lifelong smoker. He started when he was in his early teens, not uncommon for that generation, and quit just a couple years ago. Next, we had a meeting with his “Team” from the VA home. My mother and sister were present, and I on the phone as I was not in Maine at the time. This was a conversation I will never forget.
I couldn’t hear everything being said, but it became clear to me we were deciding how my father should die. The doctors expressed a reluctance to try to treat the cancer due to his age, poor health and his lack of understanding due to dementia. It set me back on my heels for a moment, but my mother agreed it was in his best interests to not go thru with all the trauma of surgery and possible chemo or radiation treatments, and I value her decision above all others. They will make him as comfortable as possible until he dies.
After getting back to Maine, I went to visit my mom, and then later my father. It was then that I nearly broke down sitting with him. I realized it was to late to have that conversation with him that I had wanted for so long. He couldn’t even remember it was his ribs that were broken, he insisted it was his skull. As I sat with him, he kept going on about something that I don’t think has ever happened. His grip on reality is pretty much gone.
Driving along today in New York, that song came on. The parallel to my life again hit me really hard. There’s a big hole in my life that will never be filled now. As I wrote about in another post, Just let it go, I grew up without a “Dad”. I never had that father son relationship that is so important to young boys. As an adult with a much clearer understanding, I can’t even tell him it’s ok, and that I don’t hold it against him. I waited to long and now I will have to live with my deep regret about this for the rest of my life.
And now for the second half of this blog’s title. Another song from my past came on and made me think about my future. Will I fall into the trap of despair, or will I stand up to the problems of life and move on?
Hearing that song boosted my spirits, at least for a little while. I know my problems pale in comparison to many others. I am very fortunate to be relatively healthy, have a good job and a bright future if I work at it. Like another post, nothing good is ever easy, I can’t give up on my dream. I thought I had regained my composure until I heard one of my favorite songs come on. Half way through the song, I pulled into a rest area and let it go.