It's been a little over ten years that my father has been on dialysis.
It's kind of sad, but I don't know how old he is either. Every year I guess when his birthday falls. I think it's May 23rd? I think he will be 54 this year? Wow.
We didn't officially meet, at least in my memory, until the summer before third grade, July 1987 or what is 1988? Las Vegas, 105 degrees, and as soon as I walked outside the airport to my dad's truck I nearly ripped off my pantyhose it was so hot. I'd never felt that kind of heat. I'd spent the entire plane ride annoying my uncle who had accompanied me, by sticking my tongue out and splattering my spit all over. He was not amused.
The trip lasted for two weeks. He didn't have other children but he was remarried. I watched Looney Tunes, ate Alphabet cereal, watched the turtle moving around the tank, and was babysat during the weekdays by a mexican woman in the same apartment complex a few doors down.
I met him again the summer after 4th grade when he moved to Paradise Valley, Arizona. He worked for the owner of Food Corporation of America. The fence around the property was so tall that you couldn't see over it, the entrance had a large fantastic gate that once opened showed a scene of ruins into a pond with two white swans. A guest house (hired help lodging) was immediately to the right, the guard dogs were Rocky and Tess (two rotweilers with spike collars), my dad was the chauffuer/gardener and she was the maid/server for parties.
Upon entering the house there was a million dollar rug with a grand piano and white couches. My dad gave me a tour, since no one was home, the bathrooms were tile and the showers were like a labrynth, walking in a circle to the center to reach the shower and dressing rooms the size of a bedroom.
The back of the house had a pool, with marble stools in the water, an exotic bird cage to the side of the house, and more arches and ruins, built in marble BBQ, and full size tennis courts.
I was an awe for two weeks of my life, never to see it again.
Two years later, sixth grade, my father moved back to my state to "fight the court procedings" brought on by my mother to get more child support. He was around for a while, and then moved back to Arizona.
I didn't see him again until I was 18 when he moved back yet again to fight court procedings asking that he not have to extend child support.
He didn't feel that he should have to contribute to a college education, that "she can get a job like everyone else."
(From my music stand)
We didn't speak for an entire year. Entirely of my own doing.
I decided to make an attempt at forgiveness and gave him a call and his mother answered the phone. I drove over in my 1989 silver Nissan Pulsar which I dubbed "the silver bullet" and my grandmother laid on the guilt trip, talking trash about my mother, and that would be where I ripped her a new asshole. Grandmothers beware, it is not courteous to speak about your grandchild's mothers in a certain way in front of a grandchild.
He had an accident, I suppose while working construction. Allegedly almost lost his life in the hospital when a nurse misread his chart and gave him a medication that conflicted with type 2 diabetes. (They never filed a lawsuit, they're either that dumb, or my grandmother made yet another thing up for the drama of it).
(This last November)
With one dead kidney and the other half gone, and a pancreas not working so well, dialysis three times a week for four hours at a time became his life. I visited sometimes, all the way up to college graduation.
Then, I moved nearly 2,000 miles away, and chose a different life 360 degrees different than my former life.
I don't call him. I don't let him know when I'm in town. I don't feel this sense of obligation one might feel when they have a father. But, I do at least visit once a year if I'm in town. I prefer not to go over to his apartment where he and his mother both live. I don't feel guilty about my attitude. It's more of an indifferent feeling. Sort of "whatever".
Currently, he is a man aged 54 who has the body of a man in their 80s. Brittle bones, blind on one eye and nearly blind in the other. He is fragile, has had so many accidents such as tripping and fracturing things, that he needs a walker, and his mother is 80 and can barely care for him anymore. It is a rather sad end to ones life. When someone takes an accounting at the end of it all and sees not much done and the possibilities that they squandered, I hope they understand that I am not making the same choices they did. I am taking full advantage of my life, here, in my livingroom from where I am typing this. A world they will never know, never see, and for which I will never describe to them.