Friday, September 08, 2006

Coming to grips

When a person grows up, assuming they didn't have a dysfunctional childhood or something, they look at their parents in a variety of ways. As a toddler they are superheroes; as a teen they are fools; and upon they become parents themselves, all of a sudden Ma and Pa knew a lot more than they were letting on. At no point do you want to admit that someday the ride will end, the park will close, the weeds will grow tall in the garden because there will be no one home. We all are born and we all die... except Mom and Dad, of course. They're invincible.

This past summer it was discovered that my father needed quadruple bypass surgery. My first thought? Merde Sainte. Or as the Germans might put it- heilige Schei├če. My second thought was fix up the bed, put a blanket on the floor, put some sheets on the barcalounger- I'm coming to Michigan, gas prices be damned.

Later in the week, and especially the night before the operation, I had plenty of time to reflect. If you asked me how I thought things would go I would have said fine. Why should I have thought that anything could go wrong? Why should have even imagined the possibility that he could die? The reason I didn't imagine it is that I just couldn't. This was something that was totally beyond my ability to think of. I felt like I should be prepared for that possibility, I certainly knew it could happen, but my mind completely shut that avenue off. It's a difficult thing to face your own parent's mortality.

We spent the entire day in the waiting room, sleeping, doing Sudoku puzzles, eating horribly overpriced tiny pieces of fish in the cafeteria, and ruminating. I wasn't the only one who was making solemn vows to eat better, avoid the snacks, exercise, and lose weight. Two weeks later I decide that one Mountain Dew in the morning to wake myself up can't be that bad; three weeks later I'm sampling a brand new flavor of barbecue chip; a week after that I weigh myself and realize that I haven't lost one freaking pound. What's that saying- there are no atheists in foxholes? Well there are no fatty food eaters in cardiac unit waiting rooms, I guess.

The good news is that he came through the operation with flying colors. The bad news is... well, what bad news? Is it bad news that he has to avoid the traditional full slab rib meals now? Is it bad news that the local Chinese restaurants have lost their best customer? Maybe to them; not to us. I could give a flying rat's ass if he ever plunks down $400 at the local Japanese steakhouse again. I'd much rather he save the $400 in order that we can sit around and crack bad puns until we're redfaced.

I've seen my parents future, and it shakes out like this. My dad will live to be 95. Upon passing to the Number One Kitchen in the sky, the local sub shop will name a sandwich in his honor- the Rich MacNair; five pounds of chip-chopped ham, with colored toothpicks to hold the meat in (they're cute, but not very functional), a bowl of tapioca with pearl barley, and a side of grape juice in a little tiny cup. The Chinese restaurants will install the Rich MacNair memorial buffet line, composed of ribs and crablegs.

My mother will live to be 113. Her final moment will come when she's out driving and gets cut off, and gets mad for the very first time in her long life; she flips the guy the bird and says "Hey, cut this off!" When she finally passes from the scene they will find 122 cats in her house. The Humane Society will dedicate the neutering table to her.

But until that time comes, no more surgery! There is no health condition that a quart of fried rice can't cure :)


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