I just got back from
I just got back from the hospital. My dad is really sick, and the scary thing is, nobody knows what the hell is wrong with him.
I can talk to someone, in real time, who is on the other side of the world.
Spacecraft are taking pictures of Mars.
My Palm Pilot has more memory than my first desktop computer.
But not one doctor can tell me what the %^$#@ is wrong with my dad.
I've been on the verge of tears all day.
Sorry, kids. I know you've come to expect a certain irreverence from your Sweet Uncle Willie, but I am scared shitless.
I love my dad. I've never known my dad as much as I wanted to, because he works all the time, and I work all the time. Then there's the whole "You don't understand me!" thing, which basically adds up to a bunch of wasted years from 14 to about 22. **Pay attention, young 'uns: your parents are not as bad as you think, and someday they'll be gone, and you'll regret every single moment you wasted being mad at them because they wouldn't let you go to your fuck-up friend's house because they knew you'd get drunk there.**
I remember, when I was a little kid, like 7 or 8, my great grandfather died. I was in the kitchen of my house, and my dad was sitting on this high-chair stool thing we have, and he started to cry. Like really a lot. He cried hard. I was freaked. I didn't know what to do. At all.
So I ran into the laundry room, and I said, "Mom. Dad needs you." My mom came into the kitchen, and she did what I just didn't know how to do at 7 or 8: she hugged my dad, and let him cry on her. I can see the two of them, my dad in his ultra groovy 1979 perm, and my mom in her pantsuit, holding each other in the beautifully wallpapered kitchen in Sunland.
Later, I asked my dad why he was crying so hard. I had hardly known my great grandfather,l and he was cool and all, but I just figured that if I didn't know him that well, nobody else did, either. (Yes, the world did revolve around me, apparently.) My dad told me that he was thinking about his own dad, my grandfather, and how my grandfather was so sad, because his own father had just died. My dad then told me that he realized then, for the first time in his life, that someday his dad would die. Even at 7 years old that really struck me, and I think about it all the time.
A number of years ago, when I was working on Mr. Stitch in France, I awoke with a start one night. I thought "something horrible has just happened", and I couldn't go back to sleep. So I called my friend Dave, and told him what had happened, and asked if there had been an earthquake, or something. He told me I was just being lame (I am), and to that everything was fine. So I went back to sleep. Later that night, as I was going out the door of my apartment to dinner, my phone rang. It was my mom. She made some small talk, then told me that my dad wanted to talk to me. He got on the phone, and told me that his dad, my grandfather, had suffered a massive heart attack and died. I didn't know what to say. I asked him how he was doing, and he choked back a sob and said, "sometimes okay, and sometimes not." I had no comfort to offer my dad, and that really bothered me.
Months later, we had a funeral, and scattered my grandfather's ashes out to sea. It was really cool, and I cried really hard, but not for myself. I cried for my dad, remembering what he had told me 15 years earlier.
So tonight, I spent as long as I could at the hospital, talking with my dad, reading my lame HTML book, and watching Blind Date and Letterman. I kept taking his temperature, which started out at 103 today (scary, since my dad's 53) then went back to normal, and started a slow climb back up to 100.6 when I left.
I don't know what to do now. I know I won't sleep well, not knowing what's happening with my dad. The doctor will be calling in someone from the CDC in the morning if my dad's not better, since he was just in Indonesia on a surfing trip, and they think he may have brought something back.
But it's the not knowing that is the worst.
That and replaying in my head every wasted moment with my dad. Every time I wouldn't play catch with him, or go surfing, or acted embarrassed when he told a lame joke around some girl I was trying to impress.
Go call your mom. She's worrying about you.
And for god's sakes. Play catch with your dad.