31 July, 2011

Elective Suffering

I don’t really approve of worry. I’m really good at it though. When my sister bought a house in Tacoma, I added to my worries that of Mt Rainier, a local (hopefully inactive, dormant!) volcano. I worried that it would explode, and bury my sister. Now as worries go, this is going out on a limb. Yes, volcanoes to explode, once every couple of hundred thousand years or something. Yes, it may be overdue. But seriously? It’s not like there’s any effective strategy for reducing that risk. (Now that I live in that house I worry about it less.)

My Daddy is old. My mom was married three times, and out of it I got my father (Tex). An ex-stepdad who I do not want to hurt, but whom I am unwilling to acknowledge as a friend on Facebook. And my Daddy, right in between. 

He is not a perfect man. He has suffered from some level of back pain my whole life, and I believe that level would be called severe. We do not just hang out, because he does not relax well around me. (or maybe, considering his pain level, anyone.) He is always trying to give me stuff. Usually it’s advice. Many times, great actual stuff or money. Though I would not say too often, ha ha ha. And he can be a good listener, but usually he is not, at least with me. 

Recently, he has been trying to give me reassurance that everything will be OK when he dies, and fair warning that he’s not doing too great, but not too well. (By “recently”, I’d say approximately the last 3-5 years.) His life-long pain levels are severely aggravated by osteo-arthritis. There are some things about his health that he probably wasn’t that interested in sharing with me, so I won’t go on and share them with you, either. I think surgery was involved, and very recently (by “very recently” I mean in the last two months) radiation was involved. 

Yesterday he was going to get the results of that approach, and I say “approach” because there’s a continuum. There’s a continuum of the progression of cancer, and there are often more than one approach to treating it. There is no certainty about what the progression of your own personal ugly growths will be. I am mostly at peace with the notion that our fleeting presence on this planet, short or long, is a precious gift, which hopefully we will find a way to cherish, no matter what obstacles we find. 

My Daddy himself, warts and all, has always been a special gift to me. He loves me, and I love him, and in many ways there is no reason for it. We are not related, we have spent very little time in close proximity since my mother left him when I was a child, and I can’t sit still in his presence without the feeling that I ought to be doing something. I wish he weren’t going to die sometime in the next twenty years. Maybe in the next five years. Maybe this year. And it is pointless to worry. But I am good at it.

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