Friday, May 13, 2011

Holding Hands

I was about 75% through revising this post yesterday when Blogger when into coma mode and I lost it all.  Damn the luck . . . .

The original string of beautiful thoughts was purged . . but here's the point.

A post about my dad.  By me, Elle.

My dad had surgery on April 25th to remove a tumor from his bladder.  The term tumor is kind of used loosely, don't you think.  There was no real size parameter, no firm location . . . no real reason.  It was surgery for the sake of diagnostics.  After long debate, I decided to arrange a bunch of kid care and travel one major town south to be with my dad on his surgery date.  Prior to surgery, I had called and spoken with him . . he seemed well, good spirits, knew what was going on.  I figured that was pretty stinkin' good for a 92 year old man.   On surgery day, I arrived at the hospital where the nursing home told me to go.  Grr.  Come to find out, the surgery time had moved up AND the location had changed.  But nobody called me about that.  I retrieved my car from valet and hauled ass across town thanking the powers above for small town traffic and a quick commute.  

I arrived in time to sit with Pops before surgery.  He asked about the kids.  I showed him pictures on the iPad.  We played tic-tac-toe on the iPad.  And we waited.  I was able to stay around until he donned his party hat and they wheeled him back to the operating room.  He was totally normal, all day long.  

My dad's always been kind of a stinker.  I'm launching into story telling mode.  It's the stuff I'm made of.  When I was a kid, my dad got a huge charge out of telling every stranger that crossed our path that I was the 16th of his kids.  They'd laugh and doubt him and he would poker face them and insist I was really number sixteen.  He'd keep it up until they believed him or some other person intervened.  He was like that about having kids and catching fish.  A story teller.  I guess appearing super fertile was feather in his cap.  He also told a lot of people that my parents got me on a Blue Light Special at K-Mart.  Does anyone remember those or did I just really date myself?  Hmm.  Anyway, Blue Light Special.  It's been a nickname of mine forever.  It was almost my blog name.   He carried on like that with the nurses at the hospital, just the same as every day.    There was one person he didn't like much.  She was a CRNA that was a touch abrasive and frigid for him.  She wouldn't joke around with him and kept asking him about his penis.  Warning.  Be culturally sensitive.  Pretty young things should not pointedly ask proud, elderly Asian men about their wankers.   To top things off, she kept shooting questions about Pop's mental status my way like, "is he with it?"  But, she'd say it right in front of him . . as if he were deaf.  Finally, he fired her -- sent her away with a swish of his aged-spotted hand.  As she went slinking though the curtain, she said one parting comment to me, "what's wrong with him?" and I replied, "nothing's wrong with him . . he just doesn't like you."   She went away.  My dad was chewing on the inside of his cheek.  He's had that habit since I was a little kid.  He said, "I didn't like that one much."   And we just exchanged knowing nods.

Anyway . . . I stayed with Pop for the day.

When surgery was complete, his doctor called me on my cell phone.  That's right.  His doctor is a bit of a douche-bag.  He lacked the common courtesy or bedside manner to come make eye contact with me.  He gave me a quick phone report and said he's see my dad on Thursday in the office.  That doc left a bad taste in my mouth.

In recovery, I opened crackers & held juice so Pop could suck at it through a straw.  His teeth are looking bad.  I hung with him long enough to get his discharge taken care of and get him into the transport van back to the nursing home.  By that time, he was hungry and grouchy.  I bought him a turkey sandwich and a bag of pretzels.

Surgery was weeks ago now, but I'm left with this one lingering thought and observation.  It's about holding hands.  I really, really love to hold hands.  As a mom, I hold hands with my kids a lot.  We hold hands to cross the street, in parking lots and usually when we are watching TV or driving in the car.  Hand holding is a huge show of affection and connection in our family . . . and I like it.  But, that's a definite change from my childhood.  My dad has never been one for affection.  He doesn't hold hands.  I can't recall a time EVER in my life when he's held my hand.  Not as a child.  Not in the car.  Not watching TV.  Not crossing parking lots.  Not on my wedding day.  NEVER.  Imagine my surprise when, on surgery day, my dad reached out to hold my hand.  It was one of the oddest sensations I've ever experienced.  Even retrospectively, I'm absolutely struck at two things.  One:  my dad has the softest skin I have even touched on a person who is over the age of 9 months.  His hands are smooth like silk  -- I'm talking Mary Kay Satin Hands soft.  It was amazing.  Two:  my dad's hands are toasty warm.  It was as if he'd just pulled them out of a ski mitten.  Holding hands with my dad made warmth creep my arm.  It felt like it should be glowing.


In all the world, all of the times I've spent with my dad . . . I'm glad I went to be with him on surgery day.  If for nothing else, I got to hold hands with my dad.

1 comment:

Jam said...

You're kill'n me...that is the BEST feeling in the world. Somehow, this strong, soft, tender touch does wonders for the soul. Treasure it...it's one of the last things from my Dad. xoxo