The Waiting Game
Posted on March 18, 2013
Sunday, March 17, 2013. Have you ever watched someone slipping away? I haven’t. I’m a total newbie at this, which is odd considering my real age and not my fake age. Things tend to play out like scenes from movies and television programs we’ve been watching for years. The difference is those of us here are now living it. The doctor at the hospital has been trying one last ditch effort to get things on track this weekend, but she warned us that it may not work. It’s not working. But that’s okay. My father-in-law is resting comfortably and has been mostly unconscious since Friday. Truth be told, I’m sure he’d rather have been unconscious anyway yesterday when family members came to visit. Oy, vey.
Ever the dutiful husband-who-relatives-don’t-know-I’m-the-dutiful-husband, I sat back, listened to the stories, watched them cry in each other’s arms, and saw them wondering why I was staying so long. Good friends of the family don’t stay all day like I was, not unless they thought I was hoping for a tag-along invite to a free meal out. You know the kind of person who does that, right? Well, that not be me and never will be me. And did you ever notice that there’s always one member of the family who shows up not looking quite appropriate? Oh, yes, we had one. He was disheveled to say the least. He also smelled to high heaven. And while I’m at it, I’ll point out that he was quite into hugging all the women. They weren’t overly thrilled, yet managed a brave face while the hubby and I looked at each other in wide-eyed embarrassment.
My husband’s extended family is an interesting lot and fits right in with my own. I don’t think any of his aunts have chased each other around with a pair of scissors at the age of 60 like mine, though, but name a family who doesn’t have a bit of white trash somewhere in the gene pool. They left later in the afternoon and it was just Ralph, me, my undersexed brother-in-law and his girlfriend. I’m not sure when she finally divorced her ex or why it took so long. Maybe she got tired of reading posts where I refer to her as my undersexed brother-in-law’s married girlfriend. Well, she fixed half the issue. And, okay, she was good company.
As for Sunday afternoon, Ralph arrived at the hospital a bit before I did. Per a suggestion from my brother-in-law’s girlfriend, he went over to his dad’s house and brought back his pillow and a sheet. The man’s head is now resting on his own pillow. It’s a sensory and comfort thing and we all thought was a really, really nice idea. We’re hoping it helps keep him more at ease. I arrived an hour later and brought lunch. The hubs went down to the microwave to heat it up and I took the opportunity (since I was alone) to sit next to my father-in-law and talk to him one-on-one.
This is as close as I can recollect as to what I said:
“I don’t know if I’m going to have a chance to do this later, so I wanted to say a few things to you now while we’re alone. Thank you. I’ve looked at you as a bit of a surrogate father to me over the past couple of years while my own father’s health has deteriorated. It’s not fair that your sons haven’t known you as long as I’ve known my own parents. That just doesn’t seem right. I’ve also come to see you as…well… Here’s the thing. Ralph didn’t want me telling you this, but I’m going to anyway. I’m also going to tell you that if you open your eyes, sit up or make a noise when I tell you this, I’m not above screaming like a girl. I watch too many horror movies. You know that, so don’t freak me out on purpose. It won’t be funny. Anyway, last year in February, on our seventeenth anniversary, I married your son, which makes you my father-in-law. I did it because I love him, because I plan on spending the rest of my life with him and because I’m always going to be there to take care of him. You’re not going to have to worry about his happiness.
“Thank you. You helped bring an incredible child into the world and raise him into the man he is. The other one’s still a bit of a git, but you already know that. I think we’d be disappointed if he was any different, though. And I know you’re not a touchy feely person at all and you don’t always speak with your emotions, so I’ll say it; I love you.”
Ralph came back in the room at that point, so I felt it prudent to stop.
If all goes according to the plan the doctor laid out, Monday (the day you’re reading this) will be when he goes into hospice. They’ll keep him comfortable and give him medication for the pain, but that’s all. It’s been a waiting game this entire weekend and Monday will be more of it. He’s peaceful, resting, and mentally somewhere else, so we’re thankful he’s not suffering. That’s the most important thing right now.
Finally, thank you to all of you who have reached out through social media and e-mail and offered kind words of support & encouragement. It’s appreciated more than you know and, unfortunately, more than I’m capable of saying at the moment. Still, thank you. It’s helped make the difference in us not feeling quite so alone.
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.
17 Responses to “The Waiting Game”
March 18, 2013 at 9:15 am
Those of us who have gone through exactly what you’re going through also know pretty well what you’re feeling. It’s not fun, but it reminds us that life is not a gift, and the payments can hurt.
March 18, 2013 at 6:58 pm
Ralph and I were talking the other night and while we agree that this has been a horrible experience for his father, it honestly may have been the lesser of two evils. If he had started chemo, been weakened by it and then all this stuff happened, he would have been in even more pain. This may have actually been the more humane way for things to end. It’s how we have to look at it.
Jordan L. Hawk says:
March 18, 2013 at 9:49 pm
That was how we looked at things when my grandmother died. Her chances for surgery and chemo were extremely slim, and would probably have only meant months of suffering and then death. As it was, after a relatively brief time of pain, I think it was better for her to slip into unconsciousness for a few days while the rest of us waited on the end.
But it doesn’t make the end hurt any less when it comes, and the waiting is very, very hard. My deepest condolences to you all.
Julie L Hayes says:
March 18, 2013 at 9:58 am
Although I haven’t known you as long as others, I wish you all the best, and may your FIL’s passage be a safe and comfortable one. He’s lucky to have you for a SIL, and I suspect he thinks so too, whether he acknowledges it or now. You’re a special man, Kris, stay strong, and love one another always. *hugs*
March 18, 2013 at 6:59 pm
What’s killing me is I’m too sick to go there today and be with the family. I’ve been putting off coming down with this as long as I could (my parents had it a week and a half ago) and it finally knocked me on my rear end. It’s darn near impossible to get me to sit and do nothing while I recuperate.
Katherine T. says:
March 18, 2013 at 10:03 am
I knew you would tell him exactly what you did, and I am proud of you. I’m pretty sure he knew all along, deep down, but it’s nice you told him just to be sure.
I wish FIL peace and comfort in this final part of his journey, and strength, peace and love for you and Ralph as you help FIL. It is not easy to watch someone in their process of crossing over, but with love and comfort of family it will be easier for him.
Hugs for you and Ralph.
March 18, 2013 at 7:00 pm
I swear I half expected his eyes to open and his hands to go around my neck just as a final joke. Am glad he didn’t since I’d have made a mess. I’m also glad I had the chance to tell him what I did since I haven’t been able to go up there today. I’d have felt horrible if I’d missed the opportunity.
March 19, 2013 at 12:30 am
As soon as I started reading the part about you being concerned that your FIL might open his eyes, etc., I just had to laugh because I could totally picture you just about hitting the ceiling — and screaming all the way up there. 😮 ) I’ll bet you made your FIL smile and he so appreciated all that you said in that special way that you have that makes people laugh and shake their head… lol You were so right to do what you needed to do. Not only did you get what you needed, but you gave your FIL what he needed, too.
Sue Brown says:
March 18, 2013 at 10:16 am
Being there is the hardest thing in the world, but also the most important. Can’t say anything most than that. You’ve loved FiL,and you’re still doing that.
March 18, 2013 at 7:01 pm
Thank you, Sue. =) Your words are like a warm hug.
Tom Webb says:
March 18, 2013 at 10:47 am
I went through this with my mother, the hospice experience. Please know you are not alone. You and Ralph have us, me, love and thoughts and care. I’m here if you need me. I have a big hug for you when I see you in May.
March 18, 2013 at 7:01 pm
I want this to be over for them. The sooner they can start to mourn and heal, the better. And their father was never for putting something off when it came to emotions. He’s a hell of a man and I’ve always respected him.
Lloyd Songal says:
March 18, 2013 at 12:09 pm
My Father went into hospice after they discovered a huge un-operable brain tumor. He was in no pain and only semi coherent for the first day and he only had two days there so that was a blessing.
My heart goes out to you and your extended family Kage.
March 18, 2013 at 7:03 pm
It’s a learning experience and though I doubt it’ll ever get any easier, I’m learning how to help someone better than I have.
Patricia Logan says:
March 18, 2013 at 1:04 pm
I have few words to add. You are awesome and strong and so is Ralph. I think it’s wonderful that you had that time to speak to him and I hope it all got through. I won’t say anything further than I love you.
March 18, 2013 at 7:04 pm
Love you, too, Patti. And I’ll show you just how much when we’re at OutlantaCon. I ordered something today…
Vastine Bondurant says:
March 18, 2013 at 7:30 pm
I have had someone slip away, Kris. My son-in-law, to the very same disease.
Not easy at all.
One thing, though. There seems to be this storehouse of grace when it’s needed, and when the time DOES come, there’s this peace from out of nowhere. And then you know, it’s well, and it was TIME.
Doesn’t make it any easier, unfortunately, but it does grant those left behind peace.
And the FIL has been blessed to have your love.