Death - losing friends and family - long

---(from 2009)

I am going to talk on some areas that not all of you may want to read. If so, hit the delete button and no harm done.

I cannot speak for all of you, and I will say, clearly that is not my intention. Its been right around seven years since my dad died and it got me thinking of somethings.

My good friend Geno died in 1990 from stomach cancer. He was a year older than me and we had worked together for a few years when I was a DJ. He died slowly and for the most part in pain over a year.

The last time we did anything it was that I took him to Benihana for sushi. He was rather deep into the chemo, totally bald and couldn’t taste most foods unless they were really spicy. The only way he could keep food down was by smoking out before he ate, otherwise he got sick and that was a really bad thing.

I remember driving to the restaurant and him asking me if he could spark one up. I looked over at the guy, bald, pale, a distended stomach from the cancer and a very frail person that a year prior to this could have easily kicked my ass. At that moment he probably weighed under a hundred pounds and would have broken like a twig if the wind blew the wrong direction.

I didn’t know what to do, so I said f*ck it, let’s go do something we were not supposed to do. Because of the chemo, his immune system was shot and raw fish is not a good thing to eat because of potential bacterial problems. He said; screw them all, I know I am going to die, so let’s have fun. We flirted with waitresses, drank beer (again a No No under chemo) and ate loads of sushi. Somehow the restaurant gave us a discount and it was a good evening. The only thing he ever asked me was “…are you sure you don't mind if I smoke out in your car, because the cops don't like this kind of thing…” Funny story about that, I looked him in the eye and said, like any cop is going to give me a ticket after taking a look at you, hell, they will probably join us for a beer. He laughed. It was one of the greatest feelings I remember when he laughed, at that point in his cancer, his laughter was few and far between.

He died a month or so later. The cancer spread and simply ate him alive. It’s been a lot of years, but I do miss my friend Geno.

If you haven't lost a friend or family member, in one regard I envy you, in another, I pity you for what will eventually come.

My grandmother died in the late 90’s. My grandfather died a few years after that. My dad died in 2002 and my stepfather (my 2nd dad) died two years after that.

I didn’t really see my grandparents during their final months because of work and other BS excuses I made to not see them. I went to their funerals and spoke at both of them

My dad was a different story. He told me mid 2001 he has stage four (read: terminal) cancer (bilateral lung cancer). He asked me to go to the oncologist with him. The doctor said to him, you are going to die, there is nothing we can do about it, and it will be 12 months. So the decision is one and one only, how do you want to spend your last year.

I could see my dad was not taking this well, who would. He asked about smoking and asbestos and all sorts of things that may have been the cause and some things that may have been a cure.

The doctor, ever stoic said, you have 12 months I am sorry.

At this time my dad was healthy. Strong, active in the church and the Lions Club. He exercised daily and worked because it was the right thing to do.

Over the next year he slowly died in front of my eyes. He lost weight, he was in pain, and he started out on a little oxygen (2 liters per minute) and ended up on 20 liters per minute just to catch his breath.

We talked almost every night for months. Eventually I started going over to his house after work pretty much every day. Each day I could see a little more of him fade away.

Eventually we stopped talking because he was so drugged up to numb the pain he wasn’t there anymore.

I wanted my dad back. But that was not going to happen. He was gone and it was just a matter of time.

One day when he was feeling really good, which meant he could stand up, he said lets go get a beer and a burger, just us boys. Mind you, this whole time my brother was stationed overseas on some version of the gulf war part two and simply couldn’t get out of it.

This request to go get a burger was a logistical nightmare. He was on so much oxygen that I had to load the back of the car with these large green tanks that would last him 20 minutes, and they really weren’t enough to keep him going for long. He could also barely stand so anything other than a few feet of a walk, and he was winded.

We said, screw it, we were going. I burnt a full tank driving to the sports bar, the closest one I knew of. I changed tanks for him in the car and it started to rain. We pulled up to the sports bar only to find all of the handicapped parking spaces full, and mind you, not a one of them had the little blue thing that hung from your rear view mirror indicating you had the right to park there. We got lucky and parked around 50 feet from the door. For me no big deal, for him in the rain, holding two oxygen tanks in tow, this was a big deal.

We made it in and sat down. By the time we did, I saw his two tanks were almost depleted. I went back to my car and got two more. There were only four remaining and I knew it would take at least one to drive home.

Sadly I had to rush my dad to eat and get out because he simply needed the oxygen and I could only hold so many tanks in my car.

He got his beer, watched some obscure game on tv and ate most of his burger.

This was the last time I did anything with my dad outside. I can still picture the entire scene in my head.

Similar to Geno, for some reason the restaurant gave us a discount, it wasn’t much, but it felt good to get it. This was a really tough time for me.

It was raining harder and I got him to the car. I plugged in the last tank and said we have to go. He knew there was no denying the truth of his need of the oxygen, but played it off like, let’s go to home depot, I need to get some paint for the office. I said yea, sure, let’s do that, but I drove home just in time to plug him into the two machines that put out the 20 liters he needed and not the tanks that could push a maximum of 12 liters.

He was happy that he got to go out. He kind of thanked me, but more in the way of, let’s do this again next week.

Next week never came.

His condition turned for the worse and he became bed ridden. They put him on so much morphine that he was in an out of a coma for the final months.

I don't know to this day which is worse, losing someone right away without notice or watching them die over time in front of you. I don't want to choose, I don't want to do either. But one or the other will likely happen.

I miss you dad.