Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Dad

Yeah, It's time for me to write something about my Dad. I called him up the other day, and had a nice long talk with him. He didn't sound too bad, in reality he sounded alot better than he had for a while. There was some kind of white noise coming from the background, which I thought that had to do with our connection. That's to be expected when you are calling to the USA from a mobile phone in Malaysia. There was something about the way he was talking that was a bit odd. He would talk in bunches of words with a short pause in between before he would start talking again. Then I found out why- he was on oxygen. It had to be helping, as he sounded clearer and a bit more energatic than last time we talked.

Still, I am worried about him. He's 82 years old now. The last couple of years have been rough for him. He has overcome prostrate cancer, had a heart attack, and now is suffering from congestive heart failure. I think he knows that he is nearing the end of the line, but he won't tell you that.

My sister said it really affected him when his sister died a couple of years ago. She had some stomach discomfort, and went to the doctor to get it checked. The doctor found that she was in an advanced stage of stomach cancer. They didn't even think it was worth it to give her chemotherapy. They gave her three months to live. She made it halfway through before she died.

After her death, something in his voice changed, although you never would have known from his words that he was worried or hurt or uneasy. It's not in my Dad's nature to be that way. It's not the way he was raised. To him, a man is supposed to be strong, able to handle everything and to withstand everything, be self reliant, and not be emotional in the process. That can't be an easy way of life, but it is the way he's been since I've known him as my Dad. Sure, sometimes cracks show in that facade, but for the most part there could be a tornado bearing down upon him, and you would even know it. He'd probably would tell me that he had to hang up, because there was a storm coming up and he had to close his car windows.

When our relationship wasn't so good, I used to refer to him as "Big Chief Stoneface." Most of the time his face was a mask. A couple times I said a couple things just to get a reaction, and nothing happened. He just kept driving, seeming to pay more attention to the road than to what I was saying. That made me think he didn't care. What I didn't realize was that he was profoundly deaf, and part of the reason that he didn't react when I spoke to him face to face was that he couldn't hear me. Once he finally decided to give in, and get hearing aids, then things were a bit different. Maybe not much, but at least then I could tell he was listening.

I fell out of contact with him for a number of years. How many, I am not sure. After I left the USA in 2002, my sister e-mailed me he had heart problems. I called him up from Barcelona, and we talked. It felt good to talk to him, too. He said that it was the first time we had spoken in about five years. It wasn't that I was mad at him during those five years. It was that I was dealing with some things of my own, including my own health problems. It was more like I had just forgotten about him. Believe me, it wasn't out of anger, as it was previously.

Since then, I have made sure to keep in contact, at least semi-regularly. It's anice little break from life to talk to my Dad 10,000 miles away.

I can tell from his voice that he really gets a kick out of talking to me. He always makes a point of telling me he loves me before we say goodbye. You know what? I love that. It's cute, coming from the father formerly known as "Great Chief Stoneface". As for me, I always tell him I love him too. It really feels good to be able to say that truthfully to my Dad, from my heart.

God has brought real healing to our relationship. It's too bad that we are so far apart physically. Emotionally, we've never been closer.