The Breadcrumbs widget will appear here on the published site.
A Shell of the Man that I Used to Be
He began to cry. I had seen him cry several times, but this cry was transported from an alternate dimension, I was sure of it. I asked him why he was crying, and he didn't hold back: "Because I'm dying." It didn't seem like an answer that a father would give. It didn't seem like an answer a man his age would give. It seemed like a child's answer: confused, timid, uncertain, and most of all, it was a conviction that lacked any conscience. Could this be a rehearsal for another movie? I just didn't want to believe it was real.
It's easy to be cynical about a holiday like Father's Day, amid all the corporate merchandising and the outrageously prolific power tool sales. And do all fathers deserve a brand new tie? It's no secret that some men don't deserve to be called a father.
I have learned over the years that my perceptions of the people in my life are ever-changing, and that most friendships are covered in a thin veil of superficiality. At the drop of a hat, a friend can become so unfriendly. Man, sorta makes me wonder what the point is. The phrase "with friends like these" has become so poignant.
For years I stepped away from my father. I didn't appreciate the time we had together. I thought he was a boring man with a boring life. Sometimes I took my own self-loathing out on him. Sometimes I thought he was a bully. I didn't realize that I had been brainwashed. I had been brainwashed by media, culture, and my own emotional maturity as a teenager to think that I needed anything more than the father I had.
Four years ago, he quit his career as an accountant for a printing company over an ethical dispute with his employer. Big deal. He'll get something again soon, we thought. But he didn't. He was berated and ridiculed for not having a career. Instead, he went between jobs, with stints at Papa John's and a life insurance company. He would leave unsolicited nagging voicemails to potential employers just because they didn't call him back. They must've asked, "What the hell is he thinking?" His speech was stammering. He sounded drunk. He couldn't memorize anything. His sentences fell to pieces before they left his mouth. In April 2014, he was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia (Degeneration).
"I'm the shell of the man that I used to be." He repeats this with absolute conviction, almost as if he has been believing this his entire life, and he has no reason to hide this opinion of himself any longer.
I, too, am a shell of the man that I used to be. I used to be a selfish, careless son who was only concerned with improving his own life. Now I have learned the joys of reading All-Star Superman to my father, watching my favorite movie, Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru, with him and knowing that he understands it, and doing something as simple as asking him if he is having fun in my company. "Yeah," he says. Who would have expected a single word to pack such a powerful punch?
Dad, you are not the man that you used to be, and neither am I. You have become more active than I have seen you in years. More considerate. More caring. We have become closer. And I think Scott (my brother) and I are becoming better men because of it.
Trust is a difficult idea to describe, and yet we all understand it. It's a philosophy that underpins all creeds and interpersonal relationships throughout life. If you don't trust something of 'this' nature, you don't trust anything of 'that' nature. I do not believe that any person can wholesomely believe in anything, and that identity is ever changing in a person. Some days, I am more optimistic. Some days, I am more pessimistic. I, like everyone, don't fully trust myself. As each day proceeds, I become a less trusting person. I know well in my heart how fickle my own heart is. I know well how few people there are in my life whom I can honestly call a friend. I know well that my father is the person that I trust most in this world. I know that I am incredibly lucky to have that, and I truly wish the best for people who don't on Father's Day.
#TheReal #Fatherhood #FathersDay #Sickness #Illness #Malady #MedicalStories #HealthStories #FamilyStories #Essay
Visit our shop and subscribe. Sponsor us. Submit and become a contributor. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.