Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dog Gone It

"So, yeah, we have the extra room now so come on up whenever. You can also see the new floors."

I went home for a visit over the summer, just a day trip so that Sarah could get some good Middle East cuisine and see the happs in Dearborn. Part of the visit included visiting the house. Mom was the only one there so we all chatted for a while. Mom mentioned that Kathy was going to get around to replacing the 15 year old, dog drool-stained, matted down, faded, generally gross looking carpet once Oreo died.

"Yeah, it's been a fun-filled couple of months, eh? See you next week."

I'm sure it was for the best. That dog did not have the life it should have had. Oreo was a border collie that really needed acres to run on and a sheep to boss around. Instead, she had my dad who gave her the same sort of diet that he had. All she would do is move around, plop down, and start pinching you when she wanted to be petted. And her pinching hurt. We assume her first owners abused her, as she had an unusual fear of surfaces like hardwood floors or linoleum, thunderstorms, and the hum of the refrigerator. Which probably resulted in her not eating much food as her dish was right next to the fridge.

She was a sweet dog -- but she deserved so much better.

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Sunday, November 4, 2007


My dad passed away this morning.

Since I was a teenager, actually since before I was born, it was always a question of when rather than how. He could not be classified as a hypochondriac because he was not only afflicted with several ailments but he did not take care of himself.

He had a collapsed lung sometime back in the '70's. I remember him smoking, not puffing, SMOKING cigars until about 1990.

He had what we think was a minor stroke back in the early '90's which resulted in some memory loss, including my name. I was around 10 at the time.

In 1996 he needed a quintuple bypass. In 1997 he needed a quintuple angioplasty. The doctors speculated that the arteries/veins used in the bypass had scarred as a result of my dad's chronic psoriasis. I speculated it was his post-bypass daily intake of grilled peanut butter and cheese sandwiches. And his daily intake of about a gallon of $3 wine.

After my parents split up in 2002, he decided to move to Nevada. By himself.

Then there was the conversation I had with my mom when I was moving out of Asia House at the end of my second Conference Services summer.

"So, how are things?"
"Let's wait until we get on the road." [Red flag shoots up immediately]
In the car
"Your father is missing."

It was a bizarre couple of weeks. My sister Mary and I were thinking it was some sort of 48 Hours or Unsolved Mysteries episode waiting to happen. Or something mob related (he did like to gamble -- I think I may have been named after a character on the show Maverick). Dad would have liked either option, actually. Missing persons reports were filed remotely from Michigan, stories were in the Las Vegas area newspapers, it was crazy. It turns out he went to some casino, with no ID I think, and had some sort of brain hemorrhage and ended up in some hospital. My mom ended up moving to Mesquite, Nevada to take care of things - primarily because they did not formally divorce or separate so in the eyes of the law their finances were still intertwined. Things sounded miserable.

He has been there for two and a half years. I never saw him -- I couldn't handle it. Besides our lack of relationship, he had some sort of retrograde amnesia or something that put him back in a time before I was born. How do you handle something like that?

It is unsettling a little bit. Since my 14th birthday I had to deal with the "so what happens when he dies?" This was when he had the first heart surgery. As I grew more resentful towards him, and as he continued to not take care of himself, my thought process start changing from "what happens when..." to wondering "so, when it happens, what will it be like?"

My mom called a few moments ago. She was obviously upset that the man she was married to for 42 years (37 non-separated) had died. I was just sitting there listening, the only internal monologue happening was "Huh." As my mom explained, the head nurse at the home had gone in to feed him the night before, but he was in a light sleep and somewhat gaunt. When she checked on him this morning, he had passed in his sleep -- no struggling, probably no pain.

I don't know what happens next.

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