Lately I've been either lost in thought or trying to escape them. I waver between the two.
In my retreat, I've turned to watching a slew of movies (online, 'cause I'm hibernating). And of course it's watching those movies where my thoughts are triggered. I'm thick in my Johnny Depp phase, and I love it. A couple days ago I watched the post-modern western film Dead Man, which is a strange, funny, surreal, violent, dark, and beautiful movie. (Neil Young's imposing improv guitar score could have been slightly toned down though.) The ending scene completely slayed me, I was in tears. (SPOILER: floating out along open waters in a canoe, swaddled in furs, under the cloud-spotted sky, seems like a perfect way to die.)
I cried because I was in an already fragile state. Recently, my dad had another stroke. His first one was six and a half years ago, and he never fully recovered from it, his mobility was permanently compromised leaving the left side of his body with feeling of numbness, which, over the years, seemed to get more severe.
And so last Thursday my mom calls and tells me, in her typical nonchalant manner, that Dad had another stroke. She told me not to worry nor come down to the hospital, but of course I did worry and I did go down.
I brought Yoshi because she was still on winter break, and thought that she might help cheer everyone up by her mere presence. Of course, I selfishly didn't think about her feelings of seeing her Ji-chan in a hospital. Hospitals are creepy for her and she immediately looked uncomfortable and froze in the doorway and I had to pry her inside. Good job, me.
I bribed her with an It's-It ice cream sandwich from the cafeteria, which helped.
I'm not impressed with the hospital he stayed at. The staff didn't know what they were doing, the doctors seemed incompetent (they actually misdiagnosed his stroke at first). I couldn't wait for the staff to clean up his urinary incontinence accident during his dinner so I diligently mopped up his pee, such a good daughter.
And at that moment I felt awful and guilty and selfish for having my own child. I don't want Yoshi to be in my shoes, to see her mom get old, get sick, and feel obligated by love to take care of me. I cried at the possibility that in 40 years I will be in my dad's position and Yoshi will be in my current one. Ah, the cycle of life and death. It's quite a ride, isn't it.
And as I wondered back in 2008 at the amazement of my dad still alive and kicking, 4 years later I still wonder the same thing. I wonder how much longer this can go on for, watching the body get worse and worse, and now the mind. I wonder how it must feel for him. What is it like to see your body deteriorating, compromising your quality of life? I mean, I have bad knees from running, I wake up with a sore back often, and I definitely don't feel like a spring chick, but that doesn't seem like the same thing. Over this past year or two, any friend or family member who asks him how he's doing, he answers quite honestly, and sadly, "Not so well."
My dad is diabetic, partially deaf, now suffered a couple strokes, has COPD or some kind of chronic lung condition, bad sinuses, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a build-up of potassium in his kidneys. He was recently diagnosed with MRSA, some kind of staph infection in his nose, which they found out a couple days ago at the rehab center. He is currently undergoing intense rehabilitation to learn how to walk again, how to improve his speech, and hopefully improve his memory. To be honest though, I am not optimistic he will bounce back well.
This reminds me of when my grandmother was dying, when I would go down and see her, watch my dad as he helped his mom as best he could, and then drive back up to the city and cry. Repeat, repeat, until finally she passed away and I felt immense relief.
I have the terrible thought that I hope he doesn't suffer long, the morbid wish that he might die soon so he wouldn't have to struggle as he does. And the selfishness that I can't bear to watch him go through it, so I don't want to prolong it. Just rip it off quick like a bandaid.
But I have a feeling this may go on for years.
It's a good thing there are many more movies for me to watch.