Slip Sliding Away

“I’m slipping, aren’t I,” my Dad said to my Mom this past week. As edema settles into his feet and legs from what we believe to be either liver failure or tumors on his liver, he becomes more and more confused and lost. Last night, my Mom said he’s no longer able to eat without help from the nursing home aids. He is a shell of himself.

As edema settles into his feet and legs from what we believe to be either liver failure or tumors on his liver, he becomes more and more confused and lost. Last night, my Mom said he’s no longer able to eat without help from the nursing home aids. He is a shell of himself.

My Dad was never a big man. Standing at 5’7″ and combined with my Mom’s equally teeny genes (she was 5’2″ at one point) ensured I’d never have a growth spurt after the age of 14. Despite his small stature, he could absolutely slay someone with a written or verbal bitch-slap of epic proportions.

He went after the Elkhart Community School District in 1989. As a 6th-grader, I was the only member of the Safety Patrol who had served as a 5th-grader but was not promoted to team lead. When questioned, the teacher who had oversite told me I was “too shy to handle the responsibility of leadership.” I relayed this story to both parents and watched my Dad go from zero to Mel Gibson in the first two “Lethal Weapon” movies. He took to his typewriter, a device I used regularly to write. He wrote the school principal and threatened legal action for discrimination. He told them his daughter was more than capable of being a leader and shyness has zero to do with someone’s managerial skills.

Furthermore, this was judging 11 and 12-year-olds’ collective maturity. We can all agree that is barely quantifiable. The letter was hand-delivered the next day when my Dad dropped me off at school. Several days later, I found myself in the precarious position of being in the principal’s office. I didn’t act up or make trouble. Why was I in this guy’s office? The principal sat me down and informed me that he did not appreciate my father’s “idle threats.”  By the time the rather condescending conversation ended, I was more pissed than I’d ever been in my previous 11 years on the planet. Like, more pissed than when my cat accidentally strangled itself on a leash.

I would then spend the rest of the year being as loud-mouthed and foul as humanly possible. I made an enemy of my 6th-grade teacher, who even went as far as to try and fail me in health class when I was near the top of the class for grades. So, yeah, I was shy and quiet. I was not comfortable being a weirdo and I rarely said much because I just didn’t fit in most of the time. It’s fine and I ended up blossoming into an extrovert in college.

My Dad went to bat for me the best he could at every turn.

I’m trying to do the same for him as best I can right now. He is slipping away from my Mom and I and the rest of he world.

 

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