Eight Years Later

Dr. Seuss Should Have Been a Dad Blogger

Oh The Places You'll Go

Eight years later I read the words I wrote while you lay unconscious and incapable of breathing and remember how you fooled the doctors. Dad, they told me that you were going to die and that I needed to be prepared.

I remember the noises that machine made, you know the one that kept you alive. I remember the docs who told me that I shouldn’t pay attention to the bells, beeps and whistles because they would confuse me.

They weren’t trying to be mean, rude or irritating. They were just trying to help but that didn’t help me. How could it. My father lay on this bed I was standing next to. You don’t know these things the way that I do because it wasn’t you who stood there. It was me.

It wasn’t you who had to figure out what to say to everyone- it was me. I had to think about what to say to grandpa. I was the one who told him and grandpa about Uncle dying. I made him cry. I told him that his son had died and I made him cry. That is not supposed to happen.

I had to think about how to tell my sisters, mom and everyone else. I had to think about what I would tell your grandchildren. You don’t have any other sons. My sisters have lots of stories and good ones, but the male line ends with me. I am the start and the finish.

That doesn’t mean that your daughters aren’t important because they are critically important, but I am the one that everyone says is just like you. I am the one who has a million and one of your mannerisms. I am the one who will have to take on a role others won’t.

You made it. You beat the odds and you kicked death in the balls and threw his bony ass out the door. I was and still so thankful.

When I think back upon the seven months we went through I wonder how it is I still have hair. I remember taking the big lug in that photo with me on lots of walks and a run or two.

I didn’t say much of anything to anyone about what I felt. I told one person and the lug. But years later it is easy for me to say that I was scared and nervous. You had a triple bypass two days before my daughter was born.

Two days. Do you know what that was like. Do you know how crazed I felt, worried that we would end up at the hospital while some man was cutting open your chest. Talk about torn loyalties.

I did what you would do. I picked my children first because it had to be done- but goddammit dad, I was scared and angry with you. And now I am angry again.

Angry because you aren’t taking care of yourself the way you should. I know all the reasons why. There isn’t any substance abuse here, never has been. That is good but it is one more reason why I am angry because you are too fucking smart to do this.

You dropped all that weight years ago and now you are putting it back on. I told you that I won’t watch in silence. I told you that I can’t sit by but I can’t stop it either.

I am Not You

When I was younger it was important for me to say that I am not you because I wanted to prove I was my own man. I don’t have to do that now. I am you in so many ways. You have a million good qualities and I am still trying to become as good a father, but let’s not lie to anyone.

You can tell me that I have weight to drop and I will say you are right. So what. I don’t have nearly as much as you do and I am 26 years younger. I exercise more than you ever have and I don’t give up on this.

But you can do this too.

You can turn this around. You don’t have to give into the stress this way. I write. I work out on the heavy bag. I lift weights. I walk/run on the treadmill and I play basketball twice a week.

My two biggest challenges are my diet and my age. I am not old, but I can’t pretend that I am 25 anymore. So I adapt. I adjust and I overcome. There has to be more than force of will.

But the thing is that even though I know you have to make these changes- if you don’t and the worst happens I will feel guilty. I will feel responsible. I will wonder if I could have done anything different.

I won’t say these things to you because I won’t add that to your list of things to worry about. This is where I’ll let it out because I can’t carry it.

It is not hard to understand your concerns or why you feel as you do. I get it. I understand. It makes sense to me. All I ask is that you fight this battle in a different way. Don’t punish yourself this way because that is how I see it. Your are punishing yourself.

You know you don’t have to worry about me because I always land on my feet. And you know that I’ll always help mom and my sisters- not even a question. So let go a little bit.

Just start exercising again and I promise things will look different than they do now.

This was part of the just write project.Just write

(Visited 334 times, 1 visits today)


  1. bridgetstraub.com April 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Been there, done this and like everyone else I feel for you. It’s a horrible thing to have to watch. Hopefully he’ll make the right choices. It kills me that my mom never lived to see my daughters or to see my son past five. I know how much she’d have loved them.

  2. Amber April 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    I hope, even if he never sees this, that he’s listening. He’s lucky to have a son like you.

  3. Bill Dorman April 10, 2012 at 11:07 am

    I feel for you; went through something very similar w/ my dad and wanting him to quit smoking so he would be a candidate for a kidney transplant, which I would have gladly been a donor.

    As you know, sometimes you can talk until you are blue in the face and it won’t make a difference. At the end of the day we can only control our own actions.

    Good luck with your pops, he is going to have to do it on his terms as frustrating as it can be standing by and watching.

    • Jack April 10, 2012 at 4:46 pm

      You are absolutely right. Can’t make people change unless they want to. All we can do is support them and give them the occasional kick in the ass.

  4. Gina April 10, 2012 at 6:18 am

    Keep on him, Jack! Being in healthy shape will help him deal with the physical issues that arise. Actually, we all need to exercise to stay heart healthy. It’s a pain in the butt sometimes but oh so important!

    • Jack April 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm

      I am working on it, but arguing with him is like yelling in the mirror. My little sister told my oldest nephew that watching grandpa and I argue was fun because we had legendary battles.

      I never saw them like that- just monstrosities that never should have happened. But I haven’t given up here, just trying to figure out how to get him to change a few things at a time.

      Small victories are really important.

  5. Vidya Sury April 10, 2012 at 4:30 am

    I would love to write a post like this. 🙁 Except that my Mom, my best friend just never came back home. I was the one to tell everyone when my Grandma passed away and then when a couple of other relatives passed away. But my Mother was the deepest cut.

    I so enjoy reading your posts in my email.

    Stay well!


    • Jack April 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm

      Hello Vidya,

      I am sorry about your losses, they are never easy. Some of these are much harder to do than others. Thank you for your kind words.

  6. Betsy Cross April 10, 2012 at 4:22 am

    I went to see my dad on Sunday. He smoked at least a pack a day since he was a teenager. He was bloated and pale in his nursing home bed. I gave up years ago hoping he’d take care of himself. He can’t smoke there, and hasn’t smoked for almost 3 years. But the price he had to pay to get to that point is enormous.
    My friend and I were talking yesterday about recommitting to our health and how we are both make unhealthy choices instead of living with our emotions and working through them. She over eats and I just eat poorly or not at all.
    But we both concluded the only way out is through, and nobody gets you to the other side. Dealing with pressure from inside and out is so fun. Isn’t it?

    • Jack April 10, 2012 at 4:07 pm

      There is a price to be paid for how we live and sooner or later that bill comes due. I am trying to do my best not to get stuck the way others have.

      I have seen too many people go downhill so very quickly because they didn’t take care of themselves. You are absolutely correct about the only way to get out is to go through.

  7. Shelly Miller April 10, 2012 at 3:27 am

    So sorry you are going through this. This acceptance of what we cannot control in others can be all consuming. I had to let go of my mother over fifteen years ago. Pray your Dad loves himself enough to see how his not caring for himself affects those who love him most.

    • Jack April 10, 2012 at 3:45 pm

      Hi Shelly,

      Thank you. I am doing what I can to help him see that it doesn’t have to be this way. This doesn’t have to go this way, we’ll see what happens.

  8. Vanita April 10, 2012 at 12:54 am

    ah Jack, I know this hardship well. I deal with it everyday with my mother. I’m not saying our parents are similar, because mine is truly just giving up and won’t even consider the bypass, but I know that weight on your shoulders and that pain in your heart. Being an only child, it all falls to me to deal with. It’s difficult and heart breaking and I wish I didn’t know anyone else who had to go through it. Hugs to you jack. great big hugs.

    • Jack April 10, 2012 at 3:44 pm

      Hi Vanita,

      I almost didn’t write about this because this touches a different spot that in some ways feels almost too personal to share.

      But some of the people I love best in the world lost their fathers not all that long ago and I can’t help but think of the past.

      My dad come so far and been doing so damn well. I can’t say that he has given up because he hasn’t but he is slipping and I know how easy it is to just let go and say I’ll do this another day.

      Sorry you have to deal with this with your mom, it is not easy.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You may also like