The Three Year Marathon That Wasn’t
Posted on November 5, 2015
It was about this time three years ago when my father-in-law really started having issues with his health. It began with surgery on an impacted vertebrae in his back, escalated to a diagnosis of cancer, the search for where the cancer spread from, a tumor at the bottom of his spine that left him in rehab learning how to walk again, radiation, and then his eventual passing four months later. One of the doctors we grew to love and appreciate told us she wanted us to know that she was in it with dad-in-law for the long-term. It was going to be a marathon. “How long?” we asked. Three years. I still don’t know how three years can be considered a marathon, but those were her words. And we’re coming up on the end of those three years. I can’t help but wonder what my husband’s father would have done during this time.
I know. It’s a slightly morbid thought, but my mind is going there anyway.
Provided my father-in-law was able to walk again, or even if not, we’d have had to do some changes to the house. That wouldn’t have been easy because the man was a packrat. The funny thing he knew where EVERYTHING was. Seriously. I don’t know how he did it, but it was perfectly arranged in his mind. I imagine me and my brother-in-law would be coming over on a regular basis and helping out where we could; laundry, grocery shopping, lifting, etc. Just making sure things were maintained without making him feel as if he wasn’t in control.
He’d have gotten a couple more seasons into Arrow, Downton Abbey, started The Flash, I would have gotten him into Mrs. Brown’s Boys and Vicious, and he’d have been able to catch the next Star Wars film. Believe it or not, he was a fan of TV and movies. They brought him enjoyment. Then again, since they’re talking about future Star Wars films, he’d have been pissed off if they left the new one on a cliffhanger. Plus there’s talk of a new Star Trek series and let’s not forget those films. I’m just kind of hoping they have Cable TV in the afterlife because combined with an Outback Steakhouse, he’ll be enjoying himself.
Dad-in-law was a diehard Republican, but I think even he would be shaking his head in disgust with the debates and candidates in his party of choice. And, really, I haven’t heard too much about the Democratic debates because they’re overshadowed by the circus that’s been the other party. I bring politics up because my father-in-law would have lived to see gay marriage become legal and no matter how he felt about it, he would want his son to have the same rights as he himself had. He loved his son. It was evident. Actually he loved both his sons. But I believe dad-in-law would have fought against repealing gay marriage, going against what many of the candidates have discussed doing.
So, aside from watching TV and eating food that probably wasn’t the best for him, how would my father-in-law have spent the past three years? I think he would have been pleased to see his other son get engaged to long-term-unaffectionate-girlfriend. You know…finally. It’s possible my husband would have told his father that we got married and, provided that didn’t cause a coronary, that would made family trips up north a bit more fun. And we’d have gone up north with him so he could enjoy the new place up there. It’s quite nice and he loved being around his cousins.
I think in the end, though, being told you have three years left, knowing you might not be able to walk, that you will have to undergo chemo and additional radiation, plus go through all the discomforts associated with them, and make changes to one’s life wouldn’t have set well with him. My father-in-law wasn’t built that way. Oh, he could take discomfort and pain, but when it messed with his ability to be self-sufficient and lead a life of what he felt were ordinary pleasures, it wouldn’t have been his choice to continue. And we all feel he did make a choice not to.
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.
2 Responses to “The Three Year Marathon That Wasn’t”
Brent Seth says:
November 5, 2015 at 10:31 am
I don’t think anyone can really know what choice we would make until we are actually faced with it. I like to believe that I would choose not to live in a situation lacking self-sufficiency, dignity, or any reasonable quality of life. However, if faced with that, I might still cling to any flimsy semblance of life I have left.
No matter what; it’s a rotten place to be, and a terrible choice to have to make. I support whichever choice a person ultimately makes; knowing it can’t have come easily.
Eddie Lam says:
November 5, 2015 at 10:07 pm
Working for an Oncologist office, seeing patients come and go. No one knows how long they have. Once one diagnose with cancer, it is like having a death sentence. Cancer patients are not the only one suffering, their family as well. The only thing will let patient hold on to – Hope.
I sometimes think all of us will die one day anyway, it is matter how full we live our life and doesn’t matter how long. We could live till 100, while all people around you are gone. It end sad and lonely.
If I got cancer one day, I will enjoy the rest of my life by re-watching my favorite TV shows, “Six feet under”, “Big C” and “Sex and the City” 🙂 Before then, I will keep on do what I love to do – travelling.