Long Distance

“I had lunch with your dad a couple of days before he died.”

“What?”

We were talking about the logistics of his own grandfather transferring to another facility so he could be with his wife.

“Yeah. When I’m in town I always have lunch with my grandpa. He and your dad were lunch buddies.”

I’d had no idea my father was having lunch with one of my patients. And apparently my patient had no idea he was eating lunch with his doctor’s father until the picture was flashed up after he died. He saw the name and realized the man’s daughter who was a doctor was….

Me.

That meal was the beginning of the end. Something happened. That afternoon as I was wrapping up clinic the assisted living facility called to tell me he wasn’t doing well. When I got there he said he had choked then urinated on himself. His blood pressure was dangerously low and he had a terrible headache, severe back pain. He had apparently left the meal without telling anyone at the table what was going on.

My father suffered the indignities of dementia, angry about having his freedoms taken away one by one….. He had already lived through polio. One pandemic should be enough for any human being. I am glad he died before COVID. He would not have done well with quarantine thrown into the mix. His facility on lockdown? He needed family to visit, to keep him sane. Someone to yell at.

I went as often as I could.

It still didn’t feel like enough.

My father, if he were here, would likely subscribe to all of the COVID conspiracy theories. He would have cheered healthcare workers going from heroes in the US to suspect individuals, purveyors of falsehoods to keep the American people under control. I think he would have been one of those that refuses to wear a mask.

Or maybe not?

I didn’t know him that well, after all.

How strange to have a man, halfway around the world, tell you out of the blue that he had lunch with your father a year ago. A man you have never met. If God allows things happen for a reason, what reason for this?

“My grandfather thinks highly of you. He might not put a lot of stock into what other people say, but you? You he listens to.”

And there I was. Sitting at my desk, gooseflesh standing out on my arms. Hot from working outside in the sweltering heat. Tired of telling suspicious people all day that COVID is real and they need to take it seriously.

“Thank you.” Thank you for taking the time to tell me.

It felt like I had just gotten a big hug from my dad.

Maybe he doesn’t hate me after all.

45 thoughts on “Long Distance

  1. My dad did not know how to express affection to us either, neither verbally or physically. One time, years ago, someone came up to me and told me he’d had a conversation with my dad after I’d gotten my first book published. This guy told me how proud my dad was of his eldest. You could have fooled me. I decided to believe it. Chalked it up to my dad growing up when he did. He had his own personal set of issues… longer I’ve lived the more I’ve been able to let that temper my attitude toward his lacks in my life. Glad you had that conversation Victo. You will remember it the rest of your life. Take care and pace yourself. DM

    Liked by 4 people

    • I have a lot more peace, too. The whole thing with my father was more drama and hurt than I could ever adequately put into words but I would choose again to move back here to help. Best decision I ever made. Forgiveness is a process and often more active than passive. I don’t know if that makes much sense. Maybe what I am trying to say is that I had to make the move physically to be able to make my own forgiveness. I would not have been able to just decide to forgive. I had to get down and dirty and all up in the unpleasantness to really work through it.

      Liked by 5 people

  2. Victo, I am so glad for your sake and your father’s sake that he died before this nightmare that is upon us now. My heart breaks to think of how many families have been torn apart and unable to see one another which I have opinions about but I will keep those to myself. I’m also glad my mother died before this present day for she did get the family support at the end and did not die alone. My mom like your dad had trouble expressing emotion toward me yet I knew she loved me, as I know your dad loved you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am always delighted to see you here. Parents are strange creatures aren’t they/ we. No one gets it right but the truth usually always comes out. What a lovely way for you to find out he loved you, as you say an unexpected hug, always the best and worth the wait . Stay safe 💜💟

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your father sounds so much like my father. I wonder if it was the time they grew up in. I was there when he passed. He was an amputee and had terrible cardiac issues. None of my 4 siblings wanted anything to do with him. I was the one who took care of him for 13 years after my mother passed. I did not like my father as he was a mean, selfish and nasty man. But as I age and I face health issues and the challenges of getting older, I have softened my anger enough to understand and forgive his transgressions. I cannot change who he was and that’s ok. Not holding on to my hurt has been good for me. Unlike my siblings, I have no guilt or regrets as I was there for both of my parents, when they were not.
    I am so glad you are writing again.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. So nice to see you writing Victo. Ironically I was just thinking about you and hoping you would post soon. I want to believe that most parents don’t intentionally set out to emotionally harm their children but I also believe that so many are just not equipped with the tools to really see and do what’s needed. Even more hurtful (from the kid POV) are the parents who never even seem to try, or acknowledge the harm they did. I’m so glad that you’re learning more about your father, even if he was never able to express himself when alive.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s amazing how closure can come in the most unexpected ways. Both of my parents have trouble expressing affection, so I can relate to a certain extent. Glad to read your writing, Victo. I’ve missed your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Good to see a post from you Victo. Like you, I am glad both of my parents aren’t here to face Covid. Mum had dementia and died in January 2018, my Dad had a massive heart attack and died in 1996. He would have been angry at the world and our politicians, but would probably have worn a mask and sworn at anyone who got in his way. My Mum wouldn’t have known what was going on and anxious at being left on her own.
    Take care and keep safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for sharing that story. What a surreal moment that must have been for you. I hope you are well. It is nice to see you blogging; I’m sure I’m not the only one who misses your words.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It is so easy to get the impression that someone hates you when you are not able to have normal visits.

    From the 80 to 100 crowd: Where are you every day all day? Why don’t you ever take your phone with you? Did you not see my texts?

    From the 16 to 18 crowd: Mother, please let me sleep in the morning. I’m really tired.

    From Mother: But you have been holed up in your room like a hermit for weeks. What can you possibly be doing all day? I want you to come down and just talk to us.

    From the 3 to 10 crowd: But Mom, I’ve watched FROZEN more than 100 times, I want to go somewhere! Can’t we just go to the park? Why can’t I ride my bike in the street?

    Me: I’m so lonesome I could die.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good to see you writing again. I never knew exactly how my father felt about me. Now I see my brother behaving oddly toward his children. I think it’s longing mixed with resentment that they don’t court him. Also, he’s offended they aren’t rabid conservatives. I feel like my own child loves me when she isn’t wth me. What strange people we all are.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My dad after some years of absence has chosen to be around more and we (my sister and I) visit him from time to time too.

    He has opened up more and that is good. I am happy he is still healthier than most people would be after his eventful life. His mind is still sharp. Sometimes you are more fortunate than you realise.

    Liked by 1 person

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